When you think about Singapore, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t gin. That’s something that Tim Whitefield, Andy Hodgson, Charlie van Eeden and Chris Box set out to change when they created Tanglin in 2018.
The Western expats were sat on a Singapore rooftop enjoying a selection of gins when they realised that the area didn’t have a gin to call its own. Considering Singapore’s recent surges in the hospitality and bar scene, they saw a perfect opportunity to change that.
After successfully pioneering the Singaporean spirits industry, Tanglin is now expanding and has chosen Australia as its first export market.
Tanglin is currently available in two unique flavours on our shores: Orchid, and Mandarin Chilli. Both expressions are a mix of Eastern and Western botanicals, combining traditional gin with the taste of Asia.
The Orchid Gin, Tanglin’s first release and signature product, has traditional typical notes of European gins, combined with whole Indian vanilla beans, java pepper and amchoor (a fruity spice power typically used in Indian and Pakistani dishes). There’s also the addition of whole organic oranges, straight from Whitefield’s garden in Victoria.
Meanwhile the Mandarin Chilli Gin, as the name suggests, combines citrus flavours with chilli and young ginger to give it “a little zing.”
Whitefield, who is also Head Distiller, said these flavours in a gin have rarely been experienced by Australian palates, and reflect his desire: “to capture in the spirit the five main cultural groups that have made Singapore what it is today – Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, Indian and European.”
“Our brand is as much about celebrating Singapore as it is about celebrating gin. Singapore is unexpected, just like our gin,” Whitefield said.
The unique flavours, combined with Singapore’s distinctive climate of high humidity and consistent temperature have given Tanglin an edge on the world stage so far, already winning silver medals at the 2018 International Wine and Spirit Competition in Hong Kong and the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Like all good ideas, Tanglin Gin came to be over a round of drinks two years ago. Founded by Briton Andy Hodgson, the processes and organisation guy; Charlie Van Eeden from Holland, who handles branding and marketing; Aussie Chris Box, who deals with the finances and fellow Australian Tim Whitefield, the botanicals whisperer and chief distiller, Tanglin distils the first ever made-in-Singapore gin over at the industrial Mandai Foodlink. While he likes to joke that he learnt how to distil by watching YouTube videos, Tim has spent the past 10 years researching, talking to distillers and experimenting with gin. For Tanglin’s first expression, he’s created a gin using 11 botanicals, each selected because they represent Singapore.
There are the usual suspects like juniper, coriander seeds, angelica roots and orris root but what makes Tanglin Gin stand out is its use of orchids. Specifically, it utilises the dried stems of dendrobium orchids, which is also known as shi hu, the immortality herb used in traditional Chinese medicine that’s sweet and slightly salty. Other unique touches include the addition of vanilla pods and amchoor, a powder made from dried unripe green mangoes. The combination results in an audacious gin with a heady floral aroma that’s punchy when sipped neat. We recommend having it with a swig of tonic and a dash of orange juice to highlight its creamy sweetness. Here’s what Tim Whitefield has to say about his unprecedented creation.