Barrel-aged gins have a rich history, tracing back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries when wooden barrels were used to store gin, imparting not only a distinctive color but also a unique, mellowed flavor with subtle sweet, and spicy notes. However, the 1861 Single Bottle Act disrupted this practice, leading to a decline in barrel-aged gin production until the resurgence of the trend in the late 2000s, fueled by the growing craft distillery movement and the renewed interest in cocktails.
Today, the market offers an array of barrel-aged gins, each with its own distinct characteristics and production processes. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy offerings that are worthy of both sipping and mixing, from their intriguing stories to their complex tasting profiles.
What Are the Best Traits Of a Barrel-Aged Gin?
The best traits of barrel-aged gins lie in their ability to infuse traditional gin flavors with complex, mellowed notes acquired from the aging process in oak barrels. This infusion results in a unique and sophisticated drinking experience, often characterized by a harmonious interplay of juniper, botanicals, and subtle woody undertones.
These gins stand out due to their enhanced depth, offering a richer and more nuanced flavor profile compared to traditional gins. If you’re a gin lover, trying barrel-aged gins can provide an intriguing exploration of familiar botanicals in a new context, adding layers of complexity that can elevate your appreciation for the spirit.
Our Top 7 Barrel-Aged Gins
KOVAL Barrel Gin
A bridge between whiskey and gin, this award-winning gin transforms barrels previously used for KOVAL whiskey. Offering a multi-dimensional experience with aromas of wildflowers and juniper, accompanied by hints of caramel and sweet honey, it provides a rich, nuanced palate with vanilla, caramelized sugar, and a delightful charred wood finish.
WATERSHED Bourbon Barrel Four Peel Gin
Ohio’s Watershed experiments with their Four Peel Gin, infusing it with the essence of bourbon barrels. Expect a delightful fusion of candied orange peels, citrus zest, and vanilla, followed by a medley of flavors ranging from caramelized sugar to a subtle hint of spicy cinnamon, culminating in a satisfying blend of citrus and sweetness.
CITADELLE Reserve Gin
Hailing from France, Citadelle’s barrel-aged gin stands out for its intricate composition, featuring a blend of botanicals like yuzu, gene, and blue, resting in five different wood barrels. Offering a sensorial delight with juniper berries, candied orange peels, and wood char on the nose, it presents a nuanced palate with citrus zest, a hint of pepper, and a long, warm finish with a satisfying bite.
FEW Barrel Gin
Illinois-based FEW brings forth a spicy, sweet, and rich expression with its Barrel Gin aged in American oak barrels. With inviting scents of citrus zest, juniper berries, and cinnamon sugar, this gin boasts a palate rich in juniper, cloves, almonds, and caramel, culminating in a lingering, flavorful finish adorned with dried fruits and spice.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Reserve
Offering a harmonious blend of juniper-based old tom gin, raw honey, and new, charred American oak barrels, Barr Hill delivers a nuanced drinking experience. Discover aromas of wildflowers, vanilla, and honey, leading to a palate featuring notes of charred oak, clover honey, and buttery caramel, with a floral finish that lingers with oak and caramel flavors.
Ransom Old Tom Gin
Ransom’s barrel-aged gin takes a unique approach by maturing in French wine casks, resulting in a captivating blend of toasted vanilla beans, orange peels, sweet malts, and botanicals. This gin offers a long, mellow finish, combining the richness of malts with the herbal essence of gin, appealing to both whiskey and gin enthusiasts.
Corsair Barreled Gin
Known for its innovative spirits, Corsair’s Barreled Gin stands out with its unique aging process in barrels previously used for spiced rum. Expect a complex interplay of juniper, cloves, and botanicals intertwined with the richness of rum, molasses, and toasted vanilla beans, ending with a subtly sweet and spicy finish.
Barrel Aged Gin Versus Old Tom Gin
In the world of spirits, the aging process plays a pivotal role in shaping the flavors and characteristics of different alcoholic beverages. Surprisingly, while the production regulations for whiskey aging are stringent, gin distilleries have the flexibility to cask their gin at a robust 145 proof, facilitating a substantial flavor transfer during the resting phase. According to Alex Laufer, Co-founder and CEO of District Made Spirits in Washington, DC, this high-proof results in significant extraction from the barrel, culminating in a uniquely intense and rich product. Laufer’s team opts to bottle their aged gin at a potent 102 proof, a choice made after careful tasting and consideration.
The distinction is key when comparing barrel-aged gin with the classic Old Tom gin, often leading to confusion among enthusiasts. Old Tom gin, a revived classic, typically incorporates sugar or other sweeteners and can be produced in both aged and unaged variations. However, the selected golden-hued barrel-aged gins distinguish themselves by offering softer botanicals and oak-infused profiles without the heightened sweetness found in aged Old Tom gins or other barrel-aged brown spirits.
Current Market Trends for Barrel-Aged Gins
- Rapid Growth in Demand: The market for barrel-aged gins has witnessed a significant surge, with a notable increase in consumer demand globally, fueled by the growing interest in craft spirits and innovative flavor experiences.
- Emerging Craft Distilleries: The past decade has seen the rise of numerous craft distilleries specializing in the production of barrel-aged gins, reflecting a shift towards small-batch, artisanal spirits catering to the evolving preferences of discerning consumers.
- Diverse Flavor Profiles: Distillers are experimenting with an array of botanical blends and aging techniques, leading to the introduction of barrel-aged gins with diverse flavor profiles, appealing to a broader consumer base seeking novel and complex taste experiences.
- Premiumization of Offerings: The market trend leans towards premiumization, with distilleries focusing on high-quality ingredients, meticulous aging processes, and innovative packaging, catering to a consumer segment that values craftsmanship and unique, sophisticated flavors.
- Mixology Innovation: Bartenders and mixologists are increasingly incorporating barrel-aged gins into innovative cocktail recipes, leveraging the nuanced flavors and depth offered by these spirits, contributing to their growing popularity in the vibrant cocktail culture worldwide.
Your Quick Guide to Enjoying Top Barrel-Aged Gins
- Sipping Neat with Caution: When sipping barrel-aged gin neat, be mindful of its higher alcohol content. Take small sips to fully appreciate the intricate flavors without overwhelming your palate.
- On the Rocks for Refreshing Nuances: If you prefer a slightly diluted taste, consider serving barrel-aged gin over ice. This method can enhance certain botanical notes while offering a refreshing and chilled drinking experience.
- Crafting Elevated Cocktails: Utilize the rich and complex flavors of barrel-aged gin in cocktails that complement its nuanced profile. Experiment with classic recipes like the Old Fashioned or Negroni, allowing the gin’s unique character to shine through in the mix.
- Balancing Ingredients Carefully: When using barrel-aged gin in cocktails, balance it with other ingredients judiciously to maintain the integrity of its distinct flavors. Consider complementing it with vermouth, bitters, or citrus elements that enhance rather than overpower its intricate profile.
- Selecting Appropriate Glassware: Opt for a tulip-shaped or wide-bowled glass to enjoy the nuanced aromas of barrel-aged gin fully. These glasses allow the complex bouquet to unfold, enriching your overall drinking experience.
- Temperature Considerations: Pay attention to the temperature at which you serve barrel-aged gin, as excessive warmth can dull its intricate flavors. Aim for a slightly chilled serving temperature to ensure that the spirit’s complexities remain vibrant and distinct.
- Appreciating the Finish: Take a moment to savor the lingering finish of barrel-aged gin, allowing the rich, woody notes to unfold gradually. Notice how the flavors evolve on your palate, offering a satisfying and memorable conclusion to your tasting experience.
Now Go Home, And Experiment!
These top 7 barrel-aged gins showcased here exemplify the pinnacle of craftsmanship, each boasting a unique character that can be savored either on its own or as a key component in elevated cocktail creations.
By delving into the distinct profiles of these gins, you open the door to a world of rich, multifaceted taste experiences that have been carefully curated through meticulous aging processes and innovative botanical blends.
Don’t miss the opportunity to try out these exceptional spirits that stand as remarkable examples of the artistry and dedication embedded within the contemporary distillation landscape.
We encourage you to dabble in these barrel-aged gins further, experimenting with different serving methods and cocktail recipes to uncover their full potential. Share your thoughts and experiences with us, and let us know how these gins have enriched your palette.