Captive Spirits have already riffed on their quite excellent Big Gin, letting it rest for six months in ex-Heaven Hill Distillery bourbon barrels to product the outstanding and award winning Bourbon Barreled Big Gin.
What would happen if we let that same gin rest three years?
Unlike with whiskey, a longer time in the barrel isn’t automatically going to improve your gin. The volatiles that make gin taste like gin (think the molecules that bring the citrus flavor, the juniper flavor, etc) tend to volatilize and evaporate over time. In some cases a gin that is aged for am extremely long time, might have no residual gin character left. It’s a delicate balance— one that Captive Spirits certainly struck with their bright and beautiful bourbon barreled gin— and one that they push with their 52.25% ABV Barrel Reserve Big Gin.
First I’m struck by the color of Barrel Reserve Big Gin. It’s a pale golden straw. Other gins with long aging periods like Lockhouse, Treaty Oak’s Waterloo or Vapor Distillery’s Ginskey have a much deeper color. Secondly I’m struck by the nose— Barrel Reserve Big Gin still retains a lot of gin character. There’s some wood notes peering around the edge. But it’s still a gin.
Cloves and black pepper highlight the botanical side of things, while dry cedar, oak bark and a slight hint of brown butter round things out. Barrel Reserve Big Gin has a balance of gin and aging right at the get go.
The higher proof does mean that Barrel Reserve Big Gin brings the head when sipped on its own. Spruce buds and radiant menthol come on early. The heat from the spirit’s overall proof adds to that menthol effect, almost multiplying it on the back of the palate. Melissa and sage notes come through here. There’s a bit of tannin towards the end, Barrel Reserve Big Gin has an intense and almost unusual dryness. Cassia pokes through on the finish, slightly dry and a tad roasty.
Long and very warm, moderately astringent finish.
I mixed a few cocktails with it. It’s intensity and dry finish makes it a great gin for adding a float on top of a What is Dead May Never Die. But more traditionally, I preferred Barrel Reserve Big Gin sipped as an Aged Gin Old Fashioned complemented by a sweet-type bitters, like Fee Bros. Walnut or a Cherry bitters.
Overall, Barrel Reserve Big Gin
Barrel Reserve Big Gin is big— almost immense. It’s beautiful in the way it adds all of this wood character adding to the longer aging time while still retaining a heavy botanical character. Fans of a lighter barrel aged gin are best advised to stick to Bourbon Barreled Big Gin. If that wasn’t big enough, and you don’t mind a touch more astringency and dryness— Barrel Reserve Big Gin is another winner from Captive Spirits.