In the whiskey world, barrel proof spirits are all the rage. But it appears this trend could be gaining some traction in the gin category as well, as evidenced by the release of the new Barr Hill Tom Cat Kingdom Strength.
Barr Hill Gin is produced at Montpelier, Vermont’s Caledonia Spirits distillery, and stands out from the many entries in the American gin category in that only two ingredients are used as flavoring—juniper and honey. The former is the key component that defines any gin, but the use of the latter as a finishing element is the secret to why this particular gin is so good. The raw honey actually captures the spirit of the many botanicals encountered by the bees that produce it, so it’s sort of a one-stop shop for natural flavors. The Tom Cat version of the distillery’s gin is aged for six months in new American oak barrels, the same way that bourbon is aged, and this new expression is bottled at barrel proof.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Kingdom Strength is the first in the distillery’s new Distillery Selection series, so presumably there will be more spirits added to this collection in the coming years. The gin is bottled at a hefty 113 proof, much higher than its counterpart’s 86 proof. Official tasting notes include “sweet, brown aromatics, hints of vanilla and smoky oak, as well as a touch of juniper that cuts through the bright citrus and cedar notes.” Try this in a cocktail, or sip it neat with an ice cube if you’d like to tamp down the ABV a bit.
There are just a few other examples of American barrel proof gin out there, such as Tommyrotter Distillery Cask Strength Bourbon Barrel Gin. Then there are navy strength expressions like NY Distilling’s Perry Tot Gin, and from across the pond you can find Plymouth Gin Navy Strength and Sipsmith V.J.O.P. These are high ABV, but not barrel proof because in order for a gin to be classified as such it has to spend some time inside a barrel. All that being said, if you want to try the new Kingdom Strength Gin for yourself, you’ll have to head north to the distillery as it’s only available to purchase there are the moment (SRP $79.99).