For their Tom Cat Gin, Vermont-based Caledonia Spirits takes their Barr Hill Gin and rests it in New American Oak barrels.
The gin itself is a rather simple gin whose ingredients work to great effect. It starts with grain neutral spirit. It adds only juniper as a botanical. It is then sweetened with raw honey. That’s it.
The sweetening invokes an old style of gin known as “Old Tom” wherein gin was sweetened. Traditionally this adulteration was performed because the distilling equipment of the time wasn’t capable of making the clean, truly neutral grain spirits that we are familiar with today. The flavor of the base was— to be charitable— not always great. Therefore distillers used botanicals, sweetening or whatever else they could to make it palatable.
Fortunately, in the 21st century and in the case of Tom Cat Gin, this is no longer true. Tom Cat Gin is made with high quality modern products and the use of sweetening and barrels are done purely for the effect and flavor.
Tom Cat Gin has a deep amber hue to it. Among aged gin, it’s one of the most beautiful colors I’ve seen on the shelf.
We are reviewing Tom Cat Gin, Batch 2.
The juniper is bold on the nose. Bright and coniferous, it has resinous spruce character as well. This is a bold piney aged gin. Certainly amidst the terpey aromas are tannic oak, cedar plank and other woody aromas; however, they are all secondary to the juniper on the nose of Tom Cat Gin. Unusually, after all that time in a new barrel the juniper is almost more prominent than it is in their unaged Barr Hill Gin.
It is moderately sweet to the palate. With a buckwheat honey flavor, the juniper is creamy and piney. Hints of orange butter, pine blossom, vanilla, butterscotch and toffee all emerge. Tom Cat Gin is rich and unctuous.
If you chill it in the freezer, the honey adds a creamy, thick viscousness. It envelops the tongue and almost has a light dessert sauce flavor. Among all aged gins, the honey makes Tom Cat Gin the only one I’ve yet tried that creates this effect. The cold does mute some of the other notes— juniper and resinous pine with a hint of orange are all that remain. But it is still delicious.
Tom Cat Gin is a tough mixer, even for an aged gin. While a dash of cardamom bitters can help transform it into an excellent Aged Gin Old Fashioned— my favorite is the Alexandria.
Overall, Tom Cat Gin
Beautiful, rich and flavorful. Juniper and honey star—Caledonia Spirits’ Tom Cat Gin is one of the most delicious creations that the Aged Gin explosion have given us.
2 thoughts on “Tom Cat Gin (Batch 2)”
I’m Rob from Long Island, I try to look up instructions on how to make a gin Alexandria and nothing comes up. How do you make it and what’s needed. Thanks.
The recipe is in Aaron Knoll’s book on Aged Gin Cocktails.