WHERE THERE’S OAK
BARREL-AGED GINS REVEAL THE SPIRIT’S DARKER SIDE.
Ordering a dirty martini is one thing—seeing brown gin is quite another. For the past decade, distillers have been experimenting with aging the famously clear spirit in ex-bourbon or rye casks for several months to mellow out the juniper (or its predecessor, genever, which was traditionally barrel-aged). The oak adds whiskeylike flavors such as vanilla or caramel to the gin, and when wine or sherry barrels are used, there are fruitier notes. The result is a spirit that can be enjoyed neat or on ice. Better yet, barrel-aged gins are complex enough to use in place of whiskey for a Manhattan or an old-fashioned. As for that martini, try serving up its darker cocktail cousin, the Martinez.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: RABBIT HOLE LONDON DRY GIN KENTUCKY RYE BARREL FINISH ($34); CITADELLE RÉSERVE ($45); BEEFEATER BURROUGH’S RESERVE EDITION 2 ($70); BOLS BARREL AGED GENEVER ($49).