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.
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.