Cocktails with… Barr Hill Gin (from Vermont)

During my recent trip to New York, I tried 40 new gins and, of these, two really stood out. One was BIG Gin and the other is Barr Hill, which causes me to come over a touch nostalgic whenever I think of it. So what’s so great about this gin?

The premise is simple: Barr Hill is a single botanical gin (juniper, of course!) that is infused with raw honey after distillation*.

On its own
Colour: Given the honey infusion, the gin has a light straw colour.
Nose: Juniper, pine and beeswax. Very strong and very intriguing.
Taste: Plenty of fresh, green and piney juniper, just like walking in a forest. This is followed by a touch of sweetness (although not much) and the flavour of the honey. The finish is a combination of the two, which reminds me of the piney/honey scent of beeswax wood polish. This may sound unpleasant, but I thought it was lovely and incredibly interesting.

Gin & Tonic
BRILLIANT! Juniper and pine up-front, with a touch of floral notes, herbal honey and a beeswax finish. This is so unusual, but very, very tasty. Rustic, but balanced and, overall, a flavour that is decidedly morish.

Superb. Unlike any Martini I have ever had before, but this is as good as the best of them. If you like your Martinis with a punch of juniper, then you’ll like this. The honey does not detract from this too much and simply adds a dash of silky sweetness on the finish.

A very classic Negroni, with both bitter and sweet aspects and a smooth honey finish. Packed full of flavour, with hints of cedar wood and very satisfying. One of my favourite Negronis.

In Conclusion
This was a clear favourite for the whole panel, who like the contemporary innovation whilst keeping with the very classic characteristic of strong juniper. In each drink that we mixed it in, it brought its own flair, whilst remaining true in part to the more traditional varieties of those drinks. If you get a chance to try it, I’d highly recommend it. It is expensive, at $45 a bottle, but I think it’s worth it. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Don’t just take my word for it, check out the review at TheGinIsIn (America’s Gin Website).

* Yes, this technically makes it a “Distilled Gin”, which some argue is inferior to the precious “London Dry Gin”, but wait until you have tried this before judging. It’s also worth noting that gins that are often cited as people’s favourites (Hendricks and Martin Miller’s) are also distilled gins. These are also two of the most successful new gins to have been released in last ten years (another being Tanqueray No:10).

** Interestingly, some authors have suggested that this is something of an Old Tom style of gin, which I find to be a fascinating premise that requires more attention.


This entry was posted in United States of Gin and tagged , , , , , , , by DTS. Bookmark the permalink.

About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

2 thoughts on “Cocktails with… Barr Hill Gin (from Vermont)

  1. I will stand by the assertion that this is an Old Tom style. The origin of the meaning of “Dry” was to differentiate “unsweetened gins” from the predominating “sweetened style” in the mid 19th century. As the honey is a sweetening agent, albeit non-traditional, this indeed qualifies as “sweetened gin.” Of course the term Old Tom is ambiguous, weird, and subject to some bizarre historical rumors as to the name’s origin, I think it’s rather well agreed upon that by the turn of the 20th century, its use in early cocktail books was simply to differentiate between the sweetened/unsweetened variations of gin and which cocktails required which. All the other parts of the modern day Old Tom archetype is adding things to a style that I think is differentiated by only one key trait- the fact that is sweetened.

    Of course, interested to hear more as you venture forth into the liquor library….

  2. Pingback: What’s Your Home State’s Signature Cocktail? |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s