Review: Stonecutter Single Barrel Gin
Distilled and aged by Stonecutter Spirits and bottled at 45% ABV.
Located in Middlebury, Vermont, Stonecutter Spirits was co-founded by Sivan Cotel and Sas Stewart. Before Cotel and Stewart began making gin, Cotel got a masters degree in psychology and then went to work in finance, while Stewart worked in fine dining and branding. Through a series connections, Cotel started working at WhistlePig early on in the company's life and helped them build their brand and became fascinated with the process of maturing spirits. After leaving WhistlePig, Cotel worked as a consultant in the spirits industry but he and Stewart decided that rather than give away their best ideas they would use to build their own distillery.
Both Cotel and Stewart love gin and whiskey so as they developed the idea for their company they focused in on making the types of spirits that they would want to drink. Combining their passions for whiskey, gin and the barrel aging, Cotel and Stewart decided to make an aged gin.
Some aged gins on the market are essentially made as an afterthought, a distiller makes gin so they put some in a barrel an bottle what comes out. In contrast, Cotel and Stewart started thinking about the common barrel notes that come from ex-bourbon barrels and what botanicals would pair well with those. After a number of trials Cotel and Stewart settled on a botanical mix that includes juniper, cardamom, orange peel, green tea and a few others. The botanicals are distilled in a pot still with a neutral spirit made from corn. Fresh off the still, Cotel says the botanical are not quite all in sync but after spending four to five months in once used Kentucky bourbon barrels they harmonize and compliment each other in a new way.
The intentionality that Cotel and Stewart demonstrate in their aged gin makes it one of the best I've ever had and makes me excited for their whiskeys.
Nose: There is no hiding that this is a gin. The nose has clear aromas of juniper, and citrus such as orange rind, lemon zest and lemongrass. These are supported by more subtle herbal notes like coriander and tarragon floating on a bed of sweet vanilla.
Palate: Even at 45% the gin is soft, with a medium body and while it warms the tongue it is not hot. Juniper and rosemary like flavors are complemented by barrel notes of oak and sweet caramel.
Finish: The finish is bright (read acidic) with a dry minerality, and a lingering herbal character that makes you want a second drink. After swallowing there is a slight bitterness and zing from the alcohol that holds onto the back of the tongue.
Conclusion: In my mind there are two ways to approach aged gin: one, to use a short maturation which adds a little color and some barrel character to complement the botanical mix; and two, to do a long maturation so that the gin picks up a lot of color and has time to breath and transform the botanical character. In my opinion Stonecutter Spirits Single Barrel Gin is one of the best examples of how a short period in oak can complement and enhance the gin rather than being dominated by it. The gin is well balanced and overall a very nice gin. Because the gin isn't dominated by oak I could see it working very well in a Martini, G&T, and even a negroni. Stonecutter's Single Barrel Gin can be purchased in Vermont or online through DrinkUpNY.