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Unread 2015-08-20, 10:20 PM   #1
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Default Retired Tanqueray distiller starts making his signature gin in KC

[IMG]http://media.bizj.us/view/img/6753052/tom-nichols*750xx5096-2872-0-446.jpg[/IMG] Enlarge
Andrew Grumke | KCBJ
Tom Nichol, former master distiller for Tanqueray, is at J. Rieger & Co. in Kansas City… more

After retiring as the master distiller for Diageo, the owner of Tanqueray gin, Tom Nichol got offers from huge distilleries all over the world to develop new products and refine their processes. But he chose to work with a small Kansas City startup.
Nichol flew in from Scotland this week to visit J. Rieger & Co., where he's using his 40 years of distilling experience to create a brand new gin that he's always wanted to make. He said his signature gin is not going to be anything like Tanqueray gin.
"I've been making gin for a long time for other people, so I'm basically making this one for myself," Nichol said. "I really needed to refine the recipe based on the size of the stove and things like that. As long as the guys brought in the right botanicals and ingredients for me, it wasn't going to be too hard."

J. Rieger & Co. distiller Nathan Perry ensured they bought the best ingredients possible. He's working with Nichol, so he can learn from the gin master and continue to produce the recipe. He's also worked with Dave Pickerell, former master distiller for Maker's Mark.
Nichol said he's having fun working with the guys at J. Rieger & Co. That's why he picked the business as the place to make his signature gin. He likes the people there and he called Kansas City "a brilliant place, where everyone has just been so nice."

He also picked the Kansas City distillery because he wanted the gin to be a regular feature and not just a limited release.
"I've done limited editions before and people just kept them," Nichol said. "I don't want to make a gin to keep, I want to make gin to drink. That's what I'm giving the guys. Something that is going to be great for making cocktails."

Andy Rieger, co-owner and operator of J. Rieger & Co., said he feels fortunate to have someone like Nichol create a gin that will have instant credibility.
"It's not normal for a guy to leave Tanqueray in his home of Scotland and say he wants to make the signature gin he's always had in his head at an old distillery in Kansas City that is being revived," Rieger said. "We want to make sure people fully grasp the massive importance of that. Who knows, we could become a gin-dominant distillery and we'd be totally fine with that, because we know we've got the juice and the name behind it to allow us to be successful."
Each batch of gin takes about four hours to produce, and Rieger thinks they'll have enough inventory to launch the gin in October. All the regulatory hurdles have been cleared and it's just a matter of getting the packaging and marketing put together. They couldn't make the labels until they knew the proof of the gin, which will be 92.2 proof or 46.1 percent alcohol.

Co-owner Ryan Maybee, who owns The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange at 1924 Main St., said he can't wait to have the gin on his back bar and see customers ordering drinks.
"Having someone like Tom Nichol, who is such a master of his craft after having been the master distiller for one of the finest gins in the world, having him come in is a huge honor," Maybee said. "It also gives us the opportunity to make quite possibly the best gin ever made in America, and to make it right here at Kansas City's hometown distillery. It's a chance to tell the Rieger story to a much broader audience that is coast to coast and maybe even beyond. That part is really exciting."

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