WHAT IS BARREL AGED GIN?
Up until only recently, gin was not considered an aged spirit, and as such, there was no class for this in terms of label categorisation. Which is why you’ll see creative varieties such as barrel rested, barrelled, yellow gin, barrel reserve…but barrel aged gin, and all its variants are just that – aged in barrels, so that the flavour enriched staves impart flavours on the gin inside.
A VERY STRANGE HISTORY:
Even though barrel ageing gin might seem pretty new; a closer look at the history of gin sheds a bit more light into the relationship between barrels and gin. Barrel ageing gin goes right back to the very origins of gin itself – in the very first gin, jenever. When you unravel the early history of gin, you’ll find that even the first ever gin was in fact infused (unintentionally!) with the flavours from old barrels!
Way back when, gins among many other spirits, were often stored and transported in wooden casks and barrels as a matter of necessity. Distiller’s would use whatever was available at the time (often these were used bourbon barrels, because Bourbon must be aged on new barrels). The resulting barrel infused flavours then were actually a by-product of storing – not through the intention of adding more flavour to the spirit.
And barrel ageing at that time was kind of just stumbled upon. People used what vessels they had at the time for storage and transport, and then happened to realise they actually could improve or transform a spirit.
The barrel aged gins of today are different in that they are made with intention, and barrels are picked based on the flavour they’ll impart over time from the flavours in the staves.
Most people credit Ransom Spirits in Sheridan, Oregon as the first American distillery to experiment with purposely barrel aging gin around 2008 in order to replicate Old Tom gin – a sweeter gin, popular in the 1800’s, that they figured would have had to travel in casks. And with their quick success, more distilleries followed…
WASHHOUSE BARREL AGED GIN:
Washhouse Distillery Barrel Aged Gin was born through a desire to create a mellow take on our award winning citrus gin. We believed that with the right chardonnay barrel (and a bit of luck and magic), we could infuse two different citrus profiles together with the added buttery tones of chardonnay. And it just so happened to evolve into something pretty special along the way…
We rested our award-winning citrus gin within a former chardonnay barrel, sourced from one of New Zealand’s oldest boutique wineries in the beautiful Ararimu Valley. During the ageing process, our signature botanicals evolve as the French oak flavour enriched walls impart both character and depth to the recipe through infusion of wood flavours, flavours from that years’ vintage, and often, from the infusion of fresh fruits.
The result, is a delectably smooth but drinkable gin that allows our botanicals to shine and the citrus aromas to carry through with buttery infusions of toasted hazelnut and light hints of cream on the palate.
It’s definitely barrel aged. So that’s what we called it.
*While we love reading and sharing the history of gin, we’re gin makers, not historians – so if you think what we’ve said might have a few porkies in there, let us know!