Waterloo Antique is the darkest Barrel Aged Gin we’ve seen yet. It’s dark brown, almost root beer or cola hue sets it apart. (Is this really an aged gin?) Another aspect of Waterloo Antique that is rare among aged gins is both the length of the aging and the methodology. It is composed of a blend of gins, each which have been aged different lengths of time, and in some cases as much as two years.
Wow, what a nose on Waterloo Antique— Sweet, caramel, brown sugar and pecan pie, even a slight touch of dark rum. There’s some citrus and honeysuckle in the background, but this one is a stunner. Unlike any gin I’ve ever nosed before. It presses the buttons of what exactly you think an aged gin can be.
On the palate, Waterloo Antique begins a little quiet than expected, with hints of rosemary, grapefruit. There’s a pronounced rich honeysuckle notes in the mids, rich and syrupy before the palate seemingly turns over itself, with a roar of spice and citrus, you’re getting hints of clove, allspice, nutmeg and then some tart lemon rind. The finish is unrepentant with long charred note, smoked cedar and grill, a touch bitter. Dry wood, faintly nutty, with intimations of pecan and burnt molasses. The low notes are rich and complex here.
As I took subsequent sips though, I found the finish of Waterloo Antique overwhelmed the nice balance present on first sips. The lows are complex and long, and as they linger long after you’ve swallowed the spirit, if you don’t clear the palate with some water, it seems to multiply. So that I found myself tasting more of the cedary, toasted wood notes and less of the honeysuckle and citrus. Its unabashedly powerful and has a strong perspective. I already find myself thinking that there’s no doubt that simply neat, Waterloo Antique will not cultivate ambivalence: this is “love it” or “hate it” sort of spirit.
Aged Gins are a bit of a challenge in order to appreciate their mixability. Each one is a snowflake worthy of its own set of cocktail recipes, and since very few are bar standards. its hard to say what might work or not work in your bar or your home. That being said, we tried it in several different ways, and I’m picking three which I think best highlight what it does well, and where it comes up a touch short.
I started with the Negroni as that’s my go-to Aged Gin cocktail of choice*. Spicy and more traditional up front, it gets woody and smoky on the finish. It’s long, robust, and complex. It probably has more in common with a Boulvardier cocktail when all is said and done. Recommended.
So how about a Martinez? Subtle in the high notes, before you get a burst of smoked and cherry, which once those cedar and oak notes come in on the mids and finish, you get this warm, smoked cherry wood sort of finish. Really highlights the dark wooden notes, and somewhat obscured some of Waterloo Antiques more gin-like character. I liked it, but within its own right. This was as far as you can get from what a Martinez is expected to taste like and still be called a Martinez.
So capping off our run of “is it really still a gin cocktail?” and therefore “should the cocktails really be called the same name?” we put our foot down. The Aged Gin Alexander is so different from the Gin Alexander that we think its completely different altogether. Here we introduce the Alexandria Cocktail*. It simply is an Alexander with aged Gin. But it really is something different enough to warrant a new name.
The cocktail is quite nice, and I really like it. It begins with a little bit of a rich egg nog [think egg nog as properly served at the holidays, with some whiskey in the bottom], but it fades before a rich, sharp and spicy mid-palate takes hold. You’re getting a touch of the creamy floral honeysuckle, some lemon rind, and lots of clove and coriander. There’s moments where it reminds of pecan pie, with its smoky, woody, molasses and caramelized nut notes, and then others where I feel like I’m drinking a rich chai tea or a rich egg cream. Highly recommended.
Overall, Waterloo Antique
It’s an aged gin that pushes the buttons and the boundaries of what we expect. That being said, there’s some good and some bad. I love the way it compliments cream in a cocktail or works in a Negroni. I’d probably like it a bit more if there was more restraint in the charred/smoky notes which allowed more of the other botanicals to have their moment in the sun
*Should the Barrel Aged gin Negroni have a different name? Does that beg the question, are all aged gin cocktails completely different than their unaged gin cousins?
**Yup, different names for all.
*** I lost the photos I took when the bottle first arrived. So please humor my sad, nearly empty bottle photo.