Imperial Barrel Aged Gin

Imperial Barrel Aged GinHearkening back to the Barrel Aged Gin tasting a few weeks ago, I’ve become acquainted on a rather intimate level with several quite excellent aged gins.

Roundhouse Spirits of Colorado has created a barrel aged version of their mainline Roundhouse Gin. It has a gorgeous golden brown color, similar to a nice mead, and crystal clear. Imperial comes in at 94 proof [47%] and a message on the front of the bottle says aged in new oak barrels for at least 6 months.” So we know that we have here is an aged gin which is longer aged than most other aged gins out there.

Tasting
The nose is a bit sweet, but overall rather heavy on alcohol. A little bit of caramel, candied orange rinds, and a bit of burn.

Upon tasting neat though it begins rather sweet. Similar to Roundhouse Gin, there’s a floral character here. Primarily chamomile, but a little bit of violet too. The floral rolls kindly into a wave of rich spice. Spicy notes of cloves and nutmeg, hints of roasted allspice and quiet cinnamon. There’s a deep rich earthiness here, a but the oak is rather less prominent than it is in some other gins, which have even been aged less. Rich and warm, I’d say that the overall character reminds me of a slightly burnt fruit pie. Rich and fragrant, full of warmth and spice, but a little bit of heat and burnt citrus. Its good, its smooth and quite drinkable. But unlike some aged gins which I’ve said reflect a certain “whiskey like” character, I can’t say the same for Roundhouse. The character of the chamomile and bright juniper gives it a distinctly “gin-like” feel.

Mixing with Imperial Gin
I think that one of the best ways to test how well an aged gin works as a gin is to mix it up in a classic Negroni. As Roundhouse Gin I felt was excellent in a Negroni, I was anxious to see how Imperial could live up to the high bar set by its peers.

Negroni with Roundhouse aged gin

Immediately, I’m struck by how much the chamomile and floral notes shine through even in this Negroni. Warm with a bit of smokiness, but never quite hiding its floral side. The bright juniper comes through in a muted fashion, but this might be one of the most floral Negronis I’ve had. And yet, that smoky earthiness is intoxicating. It pushes the Negroni to a whole new level.

Mixed Negroni with Imperial Gin

Overall, Imperial Gin is quite impressive. Its a smooth, very drinkable neat or on the rocks aged gin, that doesn’t taste as if it takes inspiration from other barrel aged spirits as much as it takes its inspiration from gin.

Price: $30/ 750 mL
Origin: 
[flag code=”US” size=”16″ text=”no”] Colorado, United States
Best consumed: 
In a Negroni or on the rocks. A fine sipping gin.
Availability: Colorado only, and in very limited quantities
Website: http://roundhousespirits.com/
Rating: An excellent aged gin and a shame that it has only a rather limited availability. Clearly an aged gin that hasn’t forgotten that it is supposed to be a gin first.
[Rating:4/5]

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated September 26th, 2012 by Aaron

4 thoughts on “Imperial Barrel Aged Gin

  • September 26, 2012by Ted Palmer

    Great blog Aaron!
    A buddy just turned me on to your reviews as I never have time anymore to surf being a slave to the still.
    Some info for you to round out particulars on Imperial, the age statement was forced upon me by the TTB, so I said “at least 6 months” to appease big brother. In reality the age is much greater, and depends very much on the size of the barrels. I am excited that you noticed the cinnamon note! I don’t use any cinnamon in this recipe, it comes from the chemistry of the barrels. SCIENCE RULES!! oh yeah.
    The availability has increased! Imperial can now be found in Maryland, DC, pockets of Texas and Missouri and will be in Nevada very soon. I’ve been filling barrels as fast as I can!!

    I also have a cocktail suggestion for you,
    The Lower Manhattan:
    2oz Imperial Gin
    1/4oz Kijafa cherry wine
    shake with ice
    garnish with cherry and cinnamon stick, let sit for a minute to infuse the stick.

    Ted, Roundhouse Spirits

  • September 26, 2012by AaronPost author

    Ted, Great to hear from you. It sounds like every distiller has a different experience with the TTB and the labeling requirements for aged gin. I’ve heard some say that gin can’t even have an age listed on the bottle since gin isn’t defined by age! How many months do you think on average your gin is aged? During our aged gin tasting we noticed that even at 6 months, your gin is among the longest-aged gins out there [excluding the rather eccentric 13 years and 10 years aged gins which are outliers].

    And no Cinnamon?! Well. I think that is one of the really fun things about aged gins, just like good whiskey, the barrels can do some rather incredible things to the spirit inside.

  • September 28, 2012by Ted Palmer

    HA! ya got that right! Most distillers think they just make it up as they go along, kinda like Calvin ball.
    Anyway, let me give you and your readers the dirty secret behind age statements.

    They are meaningless.

    Yes, that’s right, meaningless. There are so many variables in the equation that the statement you see on the label has no real basis in telling you anything about the quality of the spirit.
    First variable is the age of the barrel, is it new, used, and if so how many times, and with what? A good analogy is chewing gum, fresh out of the wrapper it tastes great, but it quickly loses flavor the more you chew it. Wood is depleted of its flavor with time and each use, what you are left with is a cardboard box that imparts tannin bitterness, ok, that is extreme but you get the idea.
    Next is the size of the barrel. The smaller it is the greater the surface area for that volume. A 5 gallon barrel will give you in 5 months what a full sized 53 gallon barrel will in 2 years for color and taste. Has it been used before? then it will take longer because the alcohol and water need to travel further into the wood to get anything from it besides just tannins.
    Others are temperature, humidity and changes in barometric pressure, all have effects on the ageing process, as do the percentage of water and any physical movement the barrel gets.

    Does the age statement tell you any of this? Nope. So just what does it tell us?

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