FEW have taken their gin and rested it in charred barrels for around four months.
Price: ~ £50
So, as it is a year today since my first gin review (happy birthday me!) I though, now that the blog has aged a little, I’d review my first ever (barrel) aged gin!
FEW are probably better know for their bourbon and whiskeys, but they actually have a few gins under their name too! My understanding is that this is a slightly different recipe to their American Gin, which is why I can’t say for sure what any of the botanicals are! The only tasting notes I can find are ‘fennel & peppery spices’. Obviously we’re going to be expecting oak, and some smokey tones from the barrel too.
I picked this up a long time ago as I was intrigued and hadn’t heard of barrel aged gins before (they’ve since become much more popular as you’re no doubt aware!), so without further ado, let’s get quaffing!
The bottle is their standard rectangular shape and their labels are all very similar, but with different colours and images along similar themes. This one depicts what I think is a pier, or carnival street with a large ferris wheel at the end. The design is an oldey-timey one, and stands out nicely. It’s definitely hard to miss that it’s made by FEW! Down the side is a neat little label with the signature of the master distiller, and the hand written batch number. On the back is a little blurb about the contents and info on the distillery. It’s a heavy, functional bottle that would probably look better in a collection!
First impressions on the nose are surprisingly fruity, with a woody fennel aroma creeping up along with a measure of alcoholic burn. There’s a lovely aromatic sweetness, almost akin to sandalwood and other such things, and everything seems to undulate in a very interesting way. Take one sniff and you might get a heavy wood note, on your next it’s overtaken by a sweet red cherry, only to be quickly replaced by a slightly herbal, caramel aroma. It’s very interesting.
Neat there’s a lot more wood, and less sweetness than the nose suggests. The peppery fennel is absolutely what you get at the fore, fresh and bright, but with an earthy kick to it. The oak brings with it a sour, aromatic and smokey flavour that’s obviously reminiscent of whiskey, but by no means heading too far in that direction. Eventually that gives way to a sweeter, peppered vanilla, still heavily charred, but interesting nonetheless!
Water tempers the alcohol and brings out an almost medicinal taste, with plenty of fresh, sour, green flavours. I’d have to say it’s tastes more like whisky (not whiskey) now, which is not my ideal direction, but there’s a whole lot more going on too. Herbal notes spring forth, and those earthy aromatic flavours are still there, along with a more subtle pepper.
Now, I think we can all agree, this isn’t a gin for a G&T. So Though I (almost) always serve one up for consistency, this time I’m going to go for a Negroni (1:1:1 Gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth). Now, I might get some abuse for this from some people, but I don’t usually serve mine in a 1:1:1 ratio as I prefer mind with a bit more gin and a bit less Campari, but for you, I’ve done it as it should be! It works wonderfully, which should be expected given this should be able to bridge the gap between a Negroni and a Boulevardier. Those aromatic, woody notes pair perfectly with the Campari, enhancing the bitter tones without making it more bitter. There’s definitely a medicinal element to it, though I’m enjoying that a lot. It may sound a bit mad, but the taste is more blue than green now and all the fluidity of the aroma I was getting on the nose has come back to make this drink really interesting. The flavours really dance around and change as the long aftertaste remains. A great drink!
This is obviously not a standard gin, so I’m not going to rate it the same way I would a regular one, but for what it is, it’s good. That said, if you’ve never tried a barrel aged gin before, I recommend you do so before committing to a whole bottle as I think they’re less versatile than their ‘virgin’ equivalents. There are some really great ones out there, and I’ll be reviewing the ones I have in good time, but I digress. FEW Barrel Gin has some interesting flavours that I think would work best in cocktails, and I think it could make some classic gin drinks very interesting (I’m actually thinking this could make a killer Bee’s Knees!), but it’s also pretty expensive (the additional cost is for obvious reasons). It’s good, for sure and worth tasting if you can.
FEW Barrel Gin is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.