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Top 10 barrel-aged gins

Despite being far from a new concept, there is plenty of innovation in our list of the top 10 barrel-aged gins.

There aren’t many on the market, but these are our top 10 barrel aged gins

The idea of sticking gin in a barrel dates back to the 18th and early 19th centuries, when oak was used to ship and store the spirit rather than use breakable or more expensive containers.

As the gin sailed overseas or waited in basements for a buyer, it picked up some of the oak’s sweet, spiced qualities, as well as a little colour.

Also known as “yellow gin”, the spirit was even sold in barrels prior to the Single Bottle Act 1861.

Now, with the gin category enjoying a resurgence thanks to a renewed interest in classic cocktails and the boom of craft distilling, producers are turning to the barrel-rested practice as a means of revisiting the past or simply experimenting with their stock.

What started as a craft distilling movement has now attracted a few entries from some of the largest gin brands in the world, sparking a debate on whether barrel-aged gin will remain a niche category, or grow to become a formidable sub-category.

Right now there appears to be around 50 barrel-aged gin brands available in various markets around the world, but these are our top 10. For more on the barrel-aged gin trend, see the July issue of The Spirits Business, out now.

Have we missed any out? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


FEW Barrel Gin

Aged by the Chicago distillery for up to 18 months in new American oak barrels, as well as used Bourbon and rye whiskey barrels, FEW Barrel Gin has a heavy wood influence, but then again distillery founder Paul Hletko has created a unique botanical recipe designed to complement the oak’s sweet, spicy and vanilla flavours.

Ransom Old Tom

Developed in collaboration with spirits historian David Wondrich, Ransom Spirits’ Old Tom Gin is a “historically accurate” interpretation of the style of gin predominant in the mid-1800s. The gin is created from a base wort of malted barley combined with an infusion of botanicals macerated in corn spirits that’s distilled in an alembic pot still and aged for 3-6 months.

Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve

The first major brand to enter the barrel-rested/aged gin category, Beefeater launched its Burrough’s Reserve in the UK and Spain last year. Recreated from brand founder James Burrough’s original 1860s recipe, the gin undergoes a short maturation process in Jean de Lillet barrels. At the time, master distiller Desmond Payne said: “I expect Burrough’s Reserve to appeal to free thinking individuals who enjoy challenging convention and exploring new sensory experiences with gin.”

Citadelle Reserve

Cognac Ferrand has been producing a barrel-aged gin under its Citadelle brand since 2007, but founder Alexandre Gabriel changes the recipe up every year to experiment with the emerging technique. The first batch was not sold for general consumption, but the second batch, released in 2008, was very well received. Since then, Citadelle Reserve has been tweak constantly to find the best outcome. In 2009 Gabriel focused on delicateness; in 2010 he discovered the original gin recipe needed tweaking; in 2011 he introduced new botanicals like yuzu; the 2012 release included genepi, a botanical that grows in the Alps; and 2013 used a solera vatting process for the first time.

Hayman’s 1850 Reserve

Launched in 2009, Hayman’s barrel-rested gin was created to reflect the absence of stainless steel in gin storage in 1850, when oak barrels were the transportation vessel of choice. The gin is rested in Scotch whisky barrels for 3-4 weeks, giving the spirit a smooth and mellow flavour with hints of spice and pepper.

Chief Gowanus

Chief Gowanus was initially created by the New York Distilling Commpany to resemble “Holland Gin”, a rye-based spirit crated by Dutch imiigrants to New York over 250 years ago. The gin includes just two botanicals: juniper and cluster hops, which deliver a spicy note to the spirit, before being laid down to rest for around three months.

Bombay Amber

Bacardi waded into the barrel-aged gin scene in April this year, with its French vermouth barrel-rested Bombay Amber. Currently only available in travel retail, the 47% abv gin is vapour-infused in the traditional Bombay Sapphire way with nutmeg, black cardamom and orange zest before resting.

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth Bathtub Cask-Aged

Online retailer Master of Malt produces a cask-aged gin under the Professor Cornelius Ampleforth brand, which is rested in tiny “octave” casks for between three to six months. The result is a spicy, rich gin with powerful vanilla, wood notes but with a strong presence from the juniper, cloves and cardamom in the gin itself.

Hernö Juniper Cask

Swedish distillery Hernö has been experimenting with its own, unique barrel-aged gin since 2013, when it launched the world’s first gin rested in a cask made from juniper wood. The small casks, which hold less than 40 litres, are said to impart more flavor than oak, including an obiovusly complex juniper profile. The gin is left to mature for 30 days before being bottled at 47% abv.

Wire Works Special Reserve

Boston distillery GrandTen released its Wire Works Special Reserve in March 2013 as a successful experiment it continued pursuing. The guys at GrandTen mature their Wire Works Gin, which features nine botanicals including Cape Cod cranberries, in ex-Bourbon barrels for up to 12 months.

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