Napa Valley’s recently restored Edge Hill Estate Winery is the source for the Chardonnay barrels where No. 209 Distillery’s Chardonnay barrel rested gin lies. Quote their website, “We carefully select the best used Edge Hill Bacigalupi Chardonnay oak barrels.” Fans of Chardonnay might know this is a pretty pricey Chardonnay we’re talking about.
Unlike many barrel rested gin, there is an age statement— of sorts— on the bottle. Batch No. 2 of No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Gin was rested for 123 days. The barrel is described as having a “medium toast.” The spirit itself is a dark goldenrod in hue.
The nose is gently toasty with warmed oak and toasted toffee bits. Reminiscent of the toffee in a Heath Bar, it echoes toasted brown sugar and burnt butterscotch. Lovely and quite inviting.
No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Gin is surprisingly sweet on the palate, especially at first. On the tip of the tongue, we get toasted toffee again. Mid-palate it tastes and feels like a gin. Cardamom, coriander, juniper and a hint of vanilla (as if a spice cake mixture baking in gently warmed butter) warm the palate and evolve towards the back of the palate where crisp, dry oak and a hint of the wine. Coriander and tannins on the finish. Exceptionally long with a finish reminiscent equal parts Chardonnay, Whiskey and Gin. Sipped neat No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Gin is quite exceptional.
Personally, I think No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Gin is best enjoyed neat. However, if you must mix it, please let me suggest the Negroni. Go 2:1:1 with the gin in double the usual, and instead of garnishing with an orange rind, go with a lemon. For me, it helped bring out some of the butterscotch and Chardonnay notes. The gin shone in this application. It’s fine at 1:1:1 but you lose some of the Chardonnay kissed tannins on the end— as well as some of the coriander and juniper mid-palate.
I also enjoyed No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel in an Old Fashioned. I liked it both with a traditional aromatic bitters and Scrappy’s Orleans Style Bitters. Though that’s not even the most surprising drink I enjoyed this gin in. Try it in a Sazerac— swap the usual brown spirit for this brown spirit. No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel absolutely sings alongside Absinthe; the Absinthe seemingly adds the missing anise note that this gin wanted all along. Really delicious stuff.
The team at No. 209 Distillery have done it again. No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Gin is a delicious barrel aged gin that despite being a gin aged in a wine barrel— it may well be the gin to persuade whiskey aficionados to give aged gin a chance.
For existing fans of Aged Gins, I really love how this gin is smooth, tasteful, and adds a wine element without incorporating a note of oxidized wine. No. 209 Chardonnay Barrel Gin is a lovely gin that mixed well— when treated as a whiskey— but is worthwhile just on its own.