Unlike the rough-and-tumble frontier legacy of bourbon or whiskey, gin connotes a more rarefied vibe, one that feels rooted it British colonization rather than a rugged character braving westward expansion. But what started as an herbal medicine has since evolved into a wide variety of playful interpretations, all of it anchored by the distinct juniper flavor. And the latest trend in gin-making—barrel-aging the spirit for several months—may make the drink more palatable to those who’ve been dismissive.
Of course, just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s good. But if the Imperial Barrel-Aged Gin from distiller Roundhouse is any indication, this will be more than a fad. Their small-batch Roundhouse Gin serves as the foundation for this light amber colored spirit. The Boulder, CO-based craft spirit-makers use a modest hand crank to pulp the botanicals, a heady mixture of traditional gin ingredients like juniper berry, coriander, citrus peel, star anise, angelica, and orris root, along with a few unique ingredients (green tea, lavender, hibiscus and chamomile blossoms) to craft a distinctively complex, smooth gin with delectable floral notes.
The gin is distilled from neutral-grain spirits in a handmade copper pot from Spain, and then aged in oak casks for at least ten months. In addition to adding shades of caramel colors to the spirit, the aging process imbues the gin considerable depth. It starts off sweet, followed by hints of cinnamon and whisky-like spiciness from the oak. Yet unlike some barrel-aged gins that seem to strive to become whisky, Imperial still carries the characteristic taste of juniper, with a smooth, clean finish. To non gin-drinkers, it’s a revelation. And as for gin-lovers, their world just got a lot more vibrant. On the rocks, it’s almost too drinkable. In a Negroni, the smoky earthiness from the wood combined with the Imperial’s floral highlights practically transforms the cocktail.
Distillery: Roundhouse Spirits
City: Boulder, CO