In this week’s blog we are exploring the golden tinted delight that is barrel aged gin. We find out more about how this liquid sunshine is made and give some delicious recommendations to try for yourself.
Barrel aged gin has been established for a very long time, with Genever being a prime example. Back in the 18th and 19th century, gin would have been stored and transported in wooden casks, a much more cost effective way due to the sturdiness of the barrel leading to fewer breakages. It also contributed to a colour change and different flavour characteristics being introduced to the drink.
Fast forward to the present day and many companies are now experimenting with cask aging, using a range of different woods and types of barrel that contribute to the taste of the final product. The aging time is something that can affect the flavour, with gin we are looking at a short aging period in comparison to whisky as you want to compliment, not mask the flavours of the gin.
When it comes to aging spirits in oak many producers use barrels that haven’t been influenced by other spirits. For example, whisky can be aged in a range of different barrels; American oak can impart flavours of vanilla, toffee and caramel, with European oak adding intense woody flavours. Gin distillers are focusing more on smaller barrels as they can be more innovative and experimental with flavours they are introducing.
Distillers can call upon a range of different casks such as sherry, port, wine, brandy, vermouth and beer. The list is endless and as you can imagine each one will bring a range of flavours and styles to the gin during the ageing process.
When it comes to serving traditional gin you can turn your hand to the classic tonic, but with aged gins it can be slightly jarring. So how would you drink it? First of all it is great for sipping straight, over ice and with orange zest. But where it comes into its own is in cocktails, try it in classics such as the Negroni or especially a Martinez. A delightful blend of gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Angostura Bitters.
The flavour profile of the gin also lends itself to cocktails originally made with whisky. It makes an outstanding Old Fashioned and a smashing take on a hot toddy with orange and honey.
If you are fascinated by the prospect of aged gin and want to give it a try then we recommend Cuckoo Cask Aged Gin. They have aged their Sunshine Gin in ex-bourbon casks for 60 days to produce this limited edition tipple. The short barrel aging works beautifully alongside the honey sweetened gin, bringing elements of vanilla from the barrel to enhance and give an extra element to the gin.
This gin is perfect for those with a more experimental taste so if you fancy trying it you can purchase a bottle online or in-store.