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Barrel-Aged Gins That Will Change The Way You Think About The Spirit

Gin is one of our favorite spring spirits. The juniper and various botanicals pair beautifully with the bright citrus, effervescent tonic, and ripe fruit flavors that the season calls for. Seriously, if you don’t love a g & t in May, what cocktail do you love?

But gin neophytes may not realize that this bright spirit has a dark side. Over the past decade, the classic practice of barrel-aging gin has returned in full force.

Tracing its history back to the 18th century, barrel-aging gin is nothing new. In fact, gin was aged in oak casks all way up until the middle part of the 20th century, when the practice fell out of fashion. The technique started as a way to ship gin. Instead of bottling the gin and risk the bottles breaking in transit, distilleries would add their spirits to barrels for the commute. Since sea voyages took a while, the gin would sit in barrels for months at a time.

The effect was noteworthy. When most of us imagine gin, it’s the un-aged spirit flavored with juniper, coriander, citrus peels, and various other herbs and botanicals. It’s floral and crisp in nature. But when gin is aged, its flavors evolve to resemble more of a botanical whiskey.

With its avowed love for old-timey shit, timeworn techniques, and nautical lore, it’s no major surprise that the modern spirits world has resurfaced this practice. Suddenly, it seems like every few months a new herbal, botanical, subtly oaky, and caramel-flavored wood-matured gin hits the market. So we figured it was well past time we run through some of our favorites.

Check our picks for the best barrel-aged gins below and click the prices to buy a bottle for yourself!

Koval Barreled Gin

Koval

ABV: 47%
Average Price: $50

The Story:

This award-winning gin was created to bridge the gap between whiskey and gin drinkers. It starts with the same recipe as the brand’s well-known Dry Gin. The botanical flavors are enhanced by aging in barrels that previously held Koval whiskey. The result is a truly multi-dimensional gin that you won’t soon forget.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find the usual gin aromas of wildflowers and juniper, but there’s also a background of caramel and sweet honey. On the palate, this barreled gin is filled with unique flavors. There are obvious juniper berries as well as vanilla beans, caramelized sugar, and botanicals peeking out at the very end. The finish is a nice combination of charred wood and spice.

Bottom Line:

Instead of using this gin for a classic gin and tonic, we prefer to use it as a base for a floral, ramped up old fashioned.

Watershed Distillery Bourbon Barrel Four Peel Gin

Watershed

ABV: 44%
Average Price: $45

The Story:

Like many of the distilleries on this list, the folks at Ohio’s Watershed produced both gin and whiskey. They wondered what would happen if they took their popular Four Peel Gin and matured it in bourbon barrels. The result was a dark, wood-aged gin that retained its floral flavors while adding rich, whiskey-like flavors.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the scents of candied orange peels, citrus zest, a field of wildflowers, and subtle vanilla beans before taking your first sip. When you do, you’ll find flavors of caramelized sugar, orange peels, toffee, and just a hint of spicy cinnamon. It all ends with a nice mix of citrus and sweet sugar.

Bottom Line:

While whiskey drinkers and gin drinkers don’t seem to have a ton in common, they can both come together to embrace the floral, citrus, and caramel flavors of this unique spirit.

Citadelle Reserve Gin

Citadelle

ABV: 44%
Average Price: $41

The Story:

French brand Citadelle is a big name in the gin world. So when it released a barrel-aged gin back in 2008, we were pretty excited. It was one of the first barreled gins to hit the market in almost 100 years. Along with juniper and the usual botanicals, the gin is made up of yuzu, genepi, and bleuet. It’s rested in five different wood barrels (Acacia, Mulberry, Cherry, Chestnut, and French Oak) for five months.

Tasting Notes:

Give this gin a proper nosing before taking your first sip. There you’ll find notes of juniper berries, botanicals, candied orange peels, honey, and wood char. Sipping this gin reveals hints of citrus zest, subtle peppery bite, caramel, and a nice, nutty sweetness. The ending is long, warming, and ends with a pleasing bite of pepper.

Bottom Line:

This is as complex as barrel-aged gins get. You might want to mix some of these other matured gins into a cocktail, but we suggest sipping this one neat to enjoy all of the subtle flavors.

FEW Barrel Gin

FEW

ABV: 46.5%
Average Price: $30

The Story:

Illinois’ FEW is well-known for its whiskeys. But its regular gin is nothing to scoff at. Then, if you really want to unify the two spirits, grab a bottle of the brand’s Barrel Gin. Aged in American oak barrels, this truly unique expression is spicy, sweet, and rich and is referred to as “The Midas Touch of Oak and Time” according to the brand.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll note scents of citrus zest, juniper berries, light vanilla, and cinnamon sugar. The palate is swirling with more notable juniper, botanicals, cloves, almonds, and caramel. The finish is long, warming, and ends with dried fruits and spice.

Bottom Line:

This is what barrel-aged gin should taste like. All of the juniper and botanical flavors remain, but the oaky, caramel flavors of whiskey are there too.

Barr Hill Tom Cat Reserve

Barr Hill

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $52

The Story:

Barr Hill begins with your typical juniper-based old tom gin (a style that sits between London Dry and a sweeter Dutch Genever). It’s then aged in new, charred American oak barrels before raw honey is added to complete the complex flavor experience. Designed for drinking neat or for mixing into your favorite cocktail (gin or whiskey-based), it’s a perfect combination of botanical, sweet, and oaky.

Tasting Notes:

Before sipping, breathe in the aromas of wildflowers, vanilla, honey, and subtle spice. Take a sip and you’ll find notes of charred oak, clover honey, buttery caramel, slight juniper, and botanicals. It finishes with a mixture of oak, caramel, and floral flavors.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy an old tom gin with a pronounced juniper flavor as well as a nice glass of whiskey, you’ll love this barrel-aged gin that bridges the two nicely.

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Ransom

ABV: 44%
Average Price: $42

The Story:

Old tom gin doesn’t have to mature in whiskey barrels. Technically, the title refers to a less juniper-driven, sweeter gin. But Ransom’s version is barrel-aged and a little more complicated than most. The worst used is malted barley (similar to a single malt Scotch), but it’s infused with botanicals, like a gin. Then it’s distilled in a copper pot still before being matured in French wine casks for as long a year.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of toasted vanilla beans, subtle botanicals, slight juniper, and just a hint of oak. The palate is filled with flavors of candied orange peels, buttery caramel, sweet malts, spruce tips, and vanilla. The finish is long, mellow, and ends with a nice mix of malts and botanicals.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a whiskey fan, there’s no better option on this list than Ransom Old Tom. It has the sweet, malty flavor of a great single malt and the herbal quality of gin.

Corsair Barreled Gin

Corsair

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $38

The Story:

Corsair is well-known for its envelop pushing spirits like Triple Smoke American Single Malt Whiskey and its use of lesser-known grains. But its real winner is its Barreled Gin. This pot-distilled gin was made with juniper, clover, orange peel, and other botanicals before being rested in barrels that previously held spiced rum.

Tasting Notes:

This complex gin deserves a proper nosing. Upon doing so, you’ll be treated to aromas of juniper, cloves, and botanicals that move into charred oak and vanilla fairly quickly. Sipping this gin reveals more clove, juniper, as well as sweet rum, molasses, and toasted vanilla beans. The finish is subtly sweet and spicy.

Bottom Line:

It seems like most barreled gins are matured or rested in whiskey barrels. This expression is perfect for fans of spiced rum.

New Riff Kentucky Wild Gin Bourbon Barreled

New Riff

ABV: 47%
Average Price: $38

The Story:

New Riff has made a name for itself in the whiskey world over the past few years. But you definitely shouldn’t sleep on its Kentucky Wild Gin Bourbon Barreled. The gin features twelve botanicals sourced from Kentucky, including wild juniper berries and American spicebush. It blends in some new make rye whiskey before aging in New Riff Bourbon barrels for five to seven months.

Tasting Notes:

The first thing you should do with a complicated spirit like this is to give it a nice nosing. You’ll note aromas of toasted vanilla beans, charred oak, juniper, and subtle peppery rye. Take time to revel in the flavors of candied orange peels, wood char, botanicals, and more cracked black pepper and citrus at the finish.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a whiskey (specifically rye) drinker and you only try one expression on this list, make it New Riff Kentucky Wild Gin Bourbon Barreled. No other spirits toe the line between gin, bourbon, and rye quite like this one.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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