When I spoke to Ben Ellefsen (a close associate of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth) at a tasting last summer and he hinted that there were more innovative aged gins in the pipeline, I was excited. Master of Malt have already created some superb gins under their “Batshit Mental Range”, including Old Fashioned Cask aged and Anglo-Scottish-American gin.
After a six month wait, the new year kicked off in splendid form with the announcement that a series of four aged gins were to be released, all based on their Bathtub Gin and bottled at 43.3% ABV; the only variation between them is the cask that they are stored in.
The gins are aged in casks which were previously used to finish their Darkness! Single Malt Whisky range (these are Scotch whiskies that are finished in ex-sherry casks).
Abelour (43.3% ABV) Darkness Aged Bathtub Gin
(Bathtub Gin aged in an ex-Pedro Ximenez barrel previously used to finish an Abelour whisky)
Colour: Warm amber
Nose: Dry elements towards the end, with a touch of nutmeg and vanilla.
Taste: A good, dry flavour and a woody bitterness towards the finish. There is also a slightly sour, briney quality and a slight astringent note. Quite intense, but different from the wood and winter spice of many other aged gins. The dryness of the base spirit really comes through. There’s a good, long finish that is quite excellent, unlike much as the marked, minimal sweetness.
Clynelish (43.4% ABV) Darkness Aged Bathtub Gin
(Bathtub Gin aged in an ex-Oloroso barrel previously used to finish a Clynelish whisky)
Colour: Dark amber/gold
Nose: Sweet orange, marmalade, and warm spice, with hints of dark fruit and jam; almost a touch of vermouth.
Taste: A full texture, rich and fruity, with plenty of citrus that reminds me of Dundee marmalade. There’s a warmth on the finish and a little heat; this is brighter, bolder, and spicier than the Abelour version, as well as being more like a mainstream aged gin. More wood notes come through, too.
Macallan (43.3% ABV) Darkness Aged Bathtub Gin
(Bathtub Gin aged in an ex-Pedro Ximenez barrel previously used to finish a Macallan whisky)
Colour: Straw yellow
Nose: Woody with some crisp juniper; dry and piney, with some light, floral notes from coriander and then some warm spice and woody notes: vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Taste: Some sweet bourbon-esque character, before a more balanced flavour with dry gin and juniper notes that move towards a nutty finish with a hint of marzipan. Well-integrated and a lovely introduction to the category of aged gin.
The use of unusual casks to age gin are an identified trend for the spirit in 2015 and these examples certainly qualify. I was genuinely surprised at how different the spirits were and all were rather tasty, the folks at Master of Malt and Maverick Drinks have done it again!