It’s spring, which means it’s time to shelve our boozy winter cocktails for something lighter and more refreshing. But with a nip still in the air, make the transition go down easier by choosing a heftier version of gin to warm up summer-time classics, such as a Gin & Tonic.
Though the Dutch have aged genever gin in wood barrels for centuries, it’s only relatively recently that the concept has caught on stateside. Gin is typically revered for its bright, citrusy, juniper infused flavor, but American craft distillers have recently been experimenting with aging gin in wood barrels—to great success. Barrel aging tends to add notes of vanilla and spice and a smooth, rich texture, and the best craft distillers have found a way to blend those characteristics with dry gin’s exuberant botanical mix.
Barrel aged gin works especially well in something simple, such as a Tom Collins, where you can really pick out distinct flavors. But it can also be substituted for regular gin in boozier fare too, such as a Negroni.
Try these bottles:
St. George Dry Rye Reposado Gin (stgeorgespirits.com)
Bottled at 99 proof, this limited quantity gin from well-respected craft distiller St. George is made by setting aside a small amount of its popular Dry Rye gin for 18 months of aging in oak wine casks. The base of rye grain lends an earthy flavor to the spirit, while the botanicals lean toward the peppery end of the spectrum.
Try it in a Boulevardier.
Few Spirits Barrel Gin (fewspirits.com)
This Evanston, Ill. distillery specializes in spirits made with grains grown less than 100 miles away. The barrel aged gin, which finds balance between a boisterous botanical mix of juniper and citrus peel with a mellow notes of vanilla and chocolate from oak aging.
Try it in a Negroni.
Spirit Works Barrel Gin (spiritworksdistillery.com)
This Sebastopol, Calif.-based distillery may be more famous for its signature plum-infused Sloe Gin, but the barrel aged gin is a yummy find too. Made from organic California winter wheat and infused with classic flavors of juniper and cardamom, this gin gets notes of vanilla and baking spices from barrel aging.
Try it in a Bee’s Knees.