Last week’s release of ‘Old Smokey‘ by Rosewood Estates Winery in Niagara has us seriously craving the warming, spicey notes that only barrel-aged brown liquor provides.
Old Smokey is a Bourbon-barrel aged bochet, a type of caramelized-honey mead, that is really the result of a handful of happy accidents. It’s unfined and unfiltered, and is expected to continue aging gracefully for many years to come.
It’s just one of many delicious liquids made better be a barrel.
Have you heard of barrel-aged gin?
Malty, lightly tannic, with a subtle sweetness, barrel-aged gin is pushing us to re-imagine what we thought gin was. Dark gins are distilled the usual way, then spend months or even years resting in barrels.
New to the scene, Willibald offers up a version of this unique spirit, straight from the farm. It’s made with 100% Ontario grains, a secret blend of botanicals and is then left to age in American oak barrels.
The minds behind Toronto-based Yongehurst Distillery Co. also offer up a barrel-aged gin. It’s a juniper-forward dry gin, flavoured with locally foraged juniper and angelica, that was left in a Canadian Oak barrel used to age a small batch of Apple Brandy.
Make it with Moonshine
Another bold way to use barrels in Ontario: moonshine! The smooth, sweet notes of wood make moonshine as rich and complex as any whiskey.
At King’s Lock Craft Distillery in the 1000 Islands, they double distill organic cane sugar before aging it in oak-barrels for months on end. It’s so delicious,
it won the Bronze medal at this years International Spirits Challenge!
The ‘Darker Side Of The Moonshine’ from Last Straw Distillery is another great example of barrel-aged moonshine. It’s made with 100% Ontario corn and, from the distillers themselves: smells like a dripping wet bourbon barrel. We’ll take two please!
Big Barrels, Bigger Whiskey
One of our favorite Ontario made, barrel-aged whiskeys is being made and aged in Guelph. Batch 3 Whisky from Dixon’s Distilled Spirits is aged only so-slightly in used bourbon barrels. It’s easy and refined, perfect for a cocktail.
Another barrel-forward bottle you need to get your hands on is from the folks at North of 7 Distillery in Ottawa. They age all their whiskey in 53 gallon oak barrels from Independent Stave Company (the coopers behind some of the finest American whiskies). Plus, they source their grains from the Ottawa region, including a heritage purple corn grown by Against the Grain in Alexandria.
BONUS: It’s not all about the alcohol. Other things are better in barrel too; things like Whisky Barrel Aged Maple Syrup from Kinsip Spirits. Being aged in Kinsip whisky barrels gives the Prince Edward County maple syrup from Nyman Farms a robust, smoky flavour. It’s perfect on pancakes and ice cream, in cooking, and in cocktails!
Most of these barrel-aged bottles are available in select LCBOs, but we encourage you to visit the distilleries themselves! It’s the best way to try new products and learn about Ontario’s rich distilling history.