Cocktails with the new Barrel Reserve and Peat Barrel BIG Gins – from the USA!

As 2016 approaches, I thought that today I would share with readers two 2015 releases from one of my favourite distilleries; not only do they make delicious, award-winning products, but the owners are a hoot! I speak, of course, of Captive Spirits: Ben Capdeville, Holly Robinson, and the entire Big Gin family.

In 2014, Bourbon-Barreled Big Gin won Best Contemporary Gin at the IWSC and now the folks at Captive Spirits have released two new aged gins.

Barrel Reserve Big Gin is aged for Three Years in Ex-bourbon (Heaven Hill casks).

Peat Barreled Big Gin is rested for 3-4 months in Westland Distillery’s American Single Malt Peated Whiskey barrels (which previously held Wild Turkey) and is bottled at 47% ABV.

Barrel Reserve BIG Gin

BB-BarrelReserve

On its own
Colour: Light gold
Nose: Light fruit and vanilla. This is sweet and inviting, before a hint of pine blossom towards the end.
Taste: Delightfully smooth and sippable, this has a lovely balance of the complex, sweet wood spice and the dryer, piney gin notes. It also has a thick texture that fills the mouth and the menthol pepper of the Tasmanian Pepperberry on the finish.

Frozen
This gin chills down well, adding a lovely viscosity to the texture. Upfront, there are notes of toffee and spice, with some crisp pine and citrus, too. The finish is more floral, with sweet spice and wood; it’s creamy, before a peppery finish.

Gin Soda
Herbaceous and woody; this is quite resinous, but the lengthening of the soda gives the gin a lighter, refreshing character without compromising on intensity or quality.

Sweet Martini
Sweet, fruity, and jammy, with a touch of bitter herbal notes. Then comes some spice and vanilla, and a lovely, creamy finish.

Negroni
Wow! Simply fantastic – there is an excellent synergy between the gin, the wood, and the other ingredients. Smooth, mellow, and relaxed, the gin takes the drink to another level, with beautiful vanilla wood and maple notes in the middle. A must try!

Peat Barreled BIG Gin

BB-PeatBarreled
On its own
Colour: Pale straw
Nose: Light spice with a wisp of dry, smoked wood, then a little citrus and cedar. This is complex and evolving with a few subtleties kept back for the palate.
Taste: The wood creates a very dry, light smoke that lingers and builds as you sip. The dry wood notes work well with the fundamentally dry character of the gin. After the wood comes some juniper, angelica, and a little citrus. The finish is of spice and the slight menthol pepper of the Tasmanian Pepperberry.

From the Freezer
Dry, with flavours of apricot kernels, followed by flavours of fragrant cedar. Excellent, cooling, and sippable.

Gin Soda
The woody notes are dry, adding to the refreshing nature of the drink and complementing the other botanical notes, whilst the spice adds complexity. This is, without a doubt, an aged gin made for soda.

Sweet Martini
Superb – light and dry, almost as if it was made with dry vermouth. Despite that, there’s a lovely sweetness at the end, along with delicious, rich orange notes. This is truly excellent and sets itself apart from other Sweet Martinis.

Negroni
A wonderfully woody Negroni: the smoky wood works really well with the bitterness of the cocktail and here is a touch of very dark chocolate thrown in, too. All of this is balanced by the sweetness of the vermouth and the extra bitterness of the Campari. Another excellent drink.

In Conclusion

It’s great to see the folks at BIG Gin not rest on their laurels after their big win at IWSC with their first Bourbon Barreled Big Gin. These two new additions are no fly-by-nights and have obviously been well thought through before their release.

The Barrel Reserve adds smoothness and complexity to what was already a great gin and really starts to bring aged gin in line with some of the better whiskies that are great to sip and explore neat.

The Peat Barreled Gin achieves a fine balance between gin, wood, and smoke and, whilst the peat is certainly there, it does not overwhelm the gin’s character; in addition, the extra woody, smoky dryness that it adds is – I think – fantastic. I highly recommended trying both.

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Cocktails with… BIG Gin from Washington

~Introduction~

When I first tried BIG Gin, over two years ago, I was blown away – it ticked all the boxes and mixed well in so many drinks – such was my excitement about telling people about the gin it turns out that I never actually posted the review, despite having written it – sincere apologies to Ben, Holly and all the BIG family. The good thing about this is that I have had the chance to try the gin time after time again and my opinion hasn’t changed. I have re-read and re-tasted the gin – made the odd tweak here and there but largely my conclusions remain the same.

~

You have probably picked up that a few weeks back I embarked in the wholesome project of trying to taste as many gin, each distilled in a separate US state as possible with my US counterpart Aaron of TheGinIsIn (America’s Gin website).

He’s written a rather good round-up of the event here. But has kindly omitted my favourite, which I shall look at, in detail, today.

The gin in question is BIG Gin from Washington State.

Big Gin Final

Big Gin is made by Captive Spirits of Ballad (North-west of Central Seattle) and their master distiller is a third-generation distiller. BIG Gin is designed as an Old World (or Classic) style of gin; that said the text on the bottle and some of the racy cocktails subtlety hint at touch of intrigue behind the products design.

Rarely do I comment on packaging (we almost all about taste here at SummerFruitCup) but I do really like the bottle of BIG Gin. Whilst the actually glass is relatively standard (but comfortable to handle) the labelling (a mix of very light green and black) has elegance and grace and reminds of the Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling.

The BIG gin is made with corn neutral grain spirit and contains a mix of 9 botanicals:

On its own
Nose: Bright, fresh citrus notes upfront, mixed with coriander, a little vanilla, and then a little menthol and black pepper.
Taste: A good amount of spiciness – cinnamon and cardamom – that moves onto juniper and angelica. Then, like the nose, there is some bright citrus, before a dry finish with hints of pepper and menthol from the Grains of Paradise and Tasmanian Pepperberry.

Gin & Tonic
A spicy little number, with its fair share of zesty citrus. This is fresh and full of flavours that come together in rather a saucy way. After the ice has melted a tad, this reaches the spot that some drinks miss. It’s delightfully satisfying, with excellent balance, making you reach for another as soona s this one is gone!

Martini
Pure and crisp, as a Martini should be, but also full of flavour. There is a lovely harmony between the piney juniper and the menthol notes. A little citrus also pops up in the middle, followed by a long, dry finish with a touch of vanilla.

Negroni
The first thing that I notice is a lovely dark chocolate flavour that is followed by some of the richer spice of the gin botanicals such as cardamom. There is then some bitter citrus and the more herbal bitterness of the Campari, which matches well with the pepper/menthol notes. As you drink, a dry, piney juniper note builds, along with a touch of the more floral angelica.

This is a drink that I can easily savour again and again, and that is ready to reveal new characteristics with slight modifications of garnish or vermouth.

In Conclusion
Big Gin is a superb spirit and quickly becoming a firm favourite across the US and far beyond. It adds it’s own charcater to each drink it’s mixed in whilst holding to true to gin routes. My favourite drink is the Negroni, fantastico.