What is Barrel-Aged Gin?
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What Is Barrel-Aged Gin? The Elegant Link Between Whiskey and Botanical Spirits

After a barrel is emptied of its whiskey, it can be reused to age gin! (Photo: Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

Ah, whiskey, the sophisticated, complex and mature amber-hued spirit. Having been around for more than 1000 years now, whiskey will continue to live in our liquor cabinets, bar shelves and cocktail glasses until the end of time. And speaking of time, for whiskey to be whiskey, it needs to spend a good portion of it hanging out in a big barrel, where the well-loved spirit acquires most of its signature flavors like wood, smoke, caramel and vanilla.

On the other end of the spirit spectrum, we have gin. Gin is, of course, different, and the list of these differences could go on and on. However, one key distinction worth noting is that gin typically isn’t completed in barrels like whiskey is. Defined simply by its inclusion of juniper as an ingredient, gin has no formal requirements or regulations for aging.

Barrel-aged gin breaks the mold on standard gin expectations. It’s a style of gin that comes to the party wearing a full suit when everyone else is in Hawaiian shirts.

What Is Barrel-Aged Gin?

Barrel-aged gin can be defined, simply, as gin that has spent time in a barrel. These barrels are usually ones that have been previously used to make whiskey but other spirit barrels, such as wine casks, are also used.

The time a gin needs to age in a barrel to be considered barrel aged is unregulated since, at the time of writing, there are no legal definitions for this style of gin. Still, distillers of barrel-aged gins typically rest it for a few months up to a year. Phrases such as “barrel-rested” or “barrel-finished” can also describe gins of this style.

Barrel-Aged Gin Is for Whiskey and Gin Fans

For whiskey lovers, barrel-aged gin is going to be an exciting spirit to sample. Anticipate barrel-aged gins to taste of wood, vanilla, malt and other whiskey-associated flavors. After resting in a barrel, the gin also takes on the color of whiskey, albeit toned down to light honey colors instead of deep golden browns.

If you’re interested in some excellent barrel-aged gin recommendations, here’s a list for your perusal.

For gin drinkers, it’s still worth your time. Barrel-aged gin is, after all, still gin. While juniper may take a back seat, coriander, citrus, pepper and roots are going to peek their heads up in the rear view mirror.

Whether you’re a whiskey fanatic or gin diehard, it’s worth it to branch out and try some barrel-aged gin!

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Candie Getgen is the managing editor for Gin Raiders. Before immersing herself in the world of spirits journalism, Candie has been many things: a bartender, a literary journal editor, an English teacher — and even a poet. Now, Candie shares her passion for gin with the world and hopes to help others fall in love with it, too (if they haven't already!). When not writing, Candie enjoys sipping a Negroni while drawing or relaxing by the pool with a campy mystery novel.