Barr Hill Gin Review
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Simple but elegant, a two botanical gin that is absolutely elite.
Review Barr Hill Gin
Made in: Montpelier, Vermont, USA by Caledonia Spirits Inc
Method: Extraction still.
45% alcohol/90 proof
Botanicals 2 : Juniper, raw honey,
Style: Old Tom, modern gin
This review is for batch 15, 2020
Well 2020 clearly had a few good things come out of it. One of them is this batch of gin.
This is honestly one of the simplest gins, and most complex gins on the market. The total botanical list is two ingredients. Juniper and raw honey. But that’s also where it gets incredibly complex, because the local honey in Vermont takes on seasonal flavors based on what flowers the bees are sipping from.
And that was the story of the makers, a partnership between a distiller, Ryan Christiansen, and a beekeeper Todd Hardie, who joined together to produce one of the more unique gins available on the planet. While there are a handful of other excellent gins that use honey as an ingredient like Himbrimi, but no one offers a gin which is both so simple in terms of ingredients, but so complex in terms of taste.
Categorically this is an Old Tom gin as it’s a sweetened gin (the honey is added after distillation), but as a modern Old Tom, the sweetness is not meant to hide imperfections, but this is a premium gin, with a natural sweetness. That said Barr Hill produces a gin they call an Old Tom which is darker and a bit richer.
Those who like sipping gins will find that Barr Hill (like many Old Tom gins) is a great sipping gin. It’s absolutely delightful with ice.
Scentwise you’ll find strong notes of juniper, pine sap,and grass on the nose of this gin.
On the tongue, this gin is really simple and extremely elegant - there is sweetness, and juniper at the fore, behind that there are faint notes (from what the bees carried back to their hive), mere whispers of pine, grass and flowers.
Viscous, slightly syrupy, and long lasting on the palate.
The complexity of this gin, or should i say the simplicity of this gin, is made a bit harder to mix due to the added sweetness.
That makes trying to balance this in a gin and tonic very difficult. With most tonics this tends to be too sweet, almost sickly sweet - and thus undrinkable, but it’s not impossible to pair it with a less sweet and more bitter tonic. I found it mixed well with the Fever Tree Aromatic tonic water - in that it still wasn’t excellent but it was good. I suspect with a seltzer water it would be a better mix than tonic.
In a martini I found I liked it, especially a dry martini, where the juniper was tempered well by the sweetness of the honey. This would be excellent in a Vesper.
In cocktails this is good mixing gin. It worked well in an Aviation, Bees Knees and was excellent in a gin Old Fashioned, Martinez, and in an Amaro Sour. A good mixture of juniper and sweetness makes this flavor come though rather than being drowned out in most cocktails. It’s an excellent old tom in how that goes.
This is a true elite overall gin - and it has enough juniper to be enjoyed by even the majority of gin purists - that said, it won’t mesh well for those who can’t handle the sweetness that a touch of honey added to the gin brings.
Because of that you’ll certainly need to adapt some of the recipes for classic cocktails to handle the sweetness intrinsic to the gin itself, but it’s a gin that justifies the effort.
Rating (Sipping): 97 - This is a wonderful sipping gin.
Rating (Mixing) 94 - This one does everything you could hope for from a gin - except perhaps make and gin and tonic, but I think that’s more a problem with the tonic than the gin.
Overall rating: 96 - a really elite gin.
What you need to know about my reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.