When I say the word “gin,” what comes to your mind?
Colorless? Dry? Refreshing? Tastes like juniper? Or maybe grass, depending who you ask…
Forget all of that for now. Barrel aged gin is a whole new, well… barrel of monkeys.
The two gins I tasted for this post were Tom Cat Gin from Barr Hill, and Chief Gowanus New Netherland Gin, made by New York Distilling Co. Both are not what you would probably think of as the classic gin we all have come to know and love.
Chief Gowanus is based on the old, Dutch, ancestor of gin, genever. You can learn more about the history of genever here. This barrel aged gin is the color of apple juice. It smells partially like the juniper, but the American oak barrel aroma is definitely present. The taste is initially of rye whiskey, but the more I drank, the more I tasted the fresh juniper. When I first tasted Chief Gowanus in the Brooklyn-based distillery where it was made, I was so taken aback. Before then, London dry gin was my favorite liquor– when I left New York Distilling Co., barrel aged gin was my new favorite. Seriously. New fave type of booze.
That discovery led me to try Tom Cat, the second barrel aged gin on today’s agenda. If someone served you Tom Cat without telling you it was gin, you would be sure that it’s rye whiskey. Well, I would be. I’m by no means an expert, but to me, this looks and tastes like whiskey. Made in Vermont, Tom Cat is darker than Chief Gowanus — clearly it’s been aged longer. It smells of the American oak casks and has a rich flavor. It’s also slightly sweet because it has been distilled with honey.
Right. So. If you ever find yourself with a bottle of Chief Gowanus, shake (or stir) yourself a martini. I used 2.5 parts of Chief Gowanus, to 1 part of dry vermouth. Mine was with a lemon twist (delicious!) but, hey, I’m all for experimenting with booze, so try it with an olive or an orange twist or less vermouth– go crazy, it’s good stuff, and it’s hard to go wrong. [Optional: Try it straight from the source at the distillery in Brooklyn. There are free tours on the weekends, and the in-house bar, called the Shanty, features really amazing cocktails with their own booze.]
For the Tom Cat… ahhh. I like drinking it straight. But, as far as cocktails go, I’d suggest taking any of your favorite whiskey-based cocktails, and use Tom Cat instead. The combo I tried was a gin-fashioned. I used 2 parts Tom Cat, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, a big square ice cube, and an orange twist. The honey in the gin makes it sweet enough, so I skipped the simple syrup. Also, make sure to stir well, so the bitters are thoroughly mixed.
Don’t forget to check back next week for a new post.
***Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post! I just really like barrel aged gin.