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Old Tom Gin

Gintleman - The Name Old Tom

There are many theories about the origin of the name Old Tom. What we know for sure is how it was sold - it happened using the world's first gin "vending machine". In the 18th century, London was in full swing, as a result of which a law known as the Gin Act of 1736 was introduced in 1736. This law imposed a very high tax on producers of gin.


To catch those who engaged in illegal sales or production, they relied on informants who pointed out those who engaged in such activities. These fines were imposed went straight to the informants. A slight ingenuity in the legislation meant that the police at this time did not have the opportunity to enter a house to search or go after criminals. The police were therefore completely dependent on informants who identified the perpetrators.

An enterprising gentleman named Captain Dudley Bradstreet refined the law and circumvented the law by installing a cat sculpture in the door. The customers put money in the cat's mouth and got gin out through a tube under the cat's paw. Behind the door stood Captain Dudley Bradstreet accepting money and pouring gin. As no one could identify the seller, he was never caught. Similar establishments spread around London. These cats were eventually referred to as Old Tom. The original cat can today be found at Beefeater's museum in London.

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