Bourbon Barreled Big Gin. 100% Corn base spirit, with a relatively traditional botanical bill buoyed by Tasmanian Pepperberry and Cardamom, the folks at Captive Spirits Distilling rest their flagship gin in barrels formerly used by Heaven Hill Distillery for their Bourbon. After six months in those barrels, the spirit emerges with only a surprisingly light straw hue.
But about that flagship gin. Longtime readers of this site likely remember Big Gin. Let’s take a journey back to 2012….
About Big Gin
Big Gin made a big splash in 2012 when it launched, helping to turn the tide against the notion that all American gin-distillers were enamored of producing spirits which didn’t taste like classic gin. Big Gin was a revelation and it made mine, and many others “best of” lists that year, and it has endured as a favorite in my personal home bar.
For More on Captive Spirits Distilling and Big Gin
We interviewed Big Gin distiller Ben Capdevielle in GIN: THE ART AND CRAFT OF THE ARTISAN REVIVAL. To read more about what the team at Captive Spirits Distilling does and Ben’s thoughts on the future of gin, check out the book!
Peppery with animated spice on the nose, and soft, mellowed wood [picture sitting on a backyard deck after a summer rain… that aroma]. Beautifully blended, the aroma is perfectly synthesized into a perfume-like accord. The individual notes don’t reveal themselves readily, pepper, cardamom, some citrus, intimations of angelica, juniper, etc. It’s the magic of the combination that creates the unique and inviting nose.
Letting it sit [and I mean really, why would you… but science!] an interesting transformation occurs as some of the top notes begin to volatilize and the spirit warms. You still have the delightful accord from the nose, but you get some buttery, more vanilla tinged notes as well. There are layers of complexity within Bourbon Barrel Big Gin which reward the patient sipper. Have I mentioned the taste?
Initially, quiet with the spice building and juniper coming through mid-palate. Spice-laden cinnamon, a bit of pine bough, a noticeable modicum of heat, ushers in a medium-long finish with citrus and a delicate coda of charred oak and butter cream. As beautiful on the palate as it is on the nose. Highly recommended just on its own.
The Hot Toddy emphasized the spirits’ warm vanilla and buttery notes, while revealing nuances that didn’t come through as strongly neat: lemon at first, coriander, orange peel and muted wood. Nice and warm, perhaps ideal for sipping around the fire.
But damn, that Negroni is something special. Bright spice, pepperberry, cinnamon, grains of paradise, juniper, and orange zest. The finish is clean and slightly bitter, perhaps one of the best ones I’ve had.
Finally, I tried an Old Fashioned with a dash of both Celery Bitters and Orange Bitters. Caramelized notes at first, with spice and wood at first, and seemingly more juniper on the mid-palate than even I picked out neat. The finish is distinctive in that all of the above mentioned qualities of Bourbon Barreled Big Gin emerge unmistakably reminding you what you’re drinking. But make no doubt, you’ll remember.
Bourbon Barreled Big Gin is among my absolute favorite barrel aged gins. It has all the great things about Big Gin, all somehow made even better by six months resting in a bourbon barrel. As good in cocktails as it is on its own, I can’t recommend it highly enough. From the harmonious accord on the nose wherein the sum is much greater than its parts to the delicate oak notes that grace the finish, there’s plenty of juniper to go around. Bourbon Barreled Big Gin is a gem in the emerging world of aged gins, and if you’re still holding out from picking up an aged gin for your home or bar, this is where you should start. Highly recommended.
Read more about Captive Spirits in my latest book!
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What other cocktails can I make with aged gin?
The first cocktail book dedicated to barrel aged gins is now out! Featuring 25 Cocktails!
Including historical re-interpretations like the Fallen Angel cocktail from 1941 (which originally featured barrel-aged Booth's Gin).
...and completely new creations like the Cola Approval, the best way to make a gin-and-tonic like drink with aged gin.