Don't get us wrong – we love a good barrel aged whiskey; the complex interaction of the spirit with the wood, the dramatic sacrifice of “the angel’s share” as we trade quantity for flavour, the ongoing journey and unexpected results... However, when it comes down to it, barrel aged gin is the superior spirit – here's why.
The History of Gin
Although gin is now the premium choice of alcohol for modern day spirit lovers, it began as a medicinal liquid called genever. Back then it wasn’t produced using the refined distilling process that we use today – instead, they soaked juniper berries in wine to create a liquid which one could consume to treat certain ailments.
It's unknown who officially invented gin. One theory is that Gin was created by a Dutch chemist, Dr. Franciscus Sylvus, during the 16th century. Originally Dr. Sylvus had intended to make an elixir that would treat kidney disorders. Following his invention, many iterations of Dr. Sylvuse’s recipe were used to make what we now know of as gin.
What is gin made from?
Gin is made by distilling a neutral grain spirit and then redistilling using juniper berries and other botanicals. Unique to our production is the use of hemp which adds to the taste and purity level of our Natural Distilling Co Gin. The ingredients of gin and the use of botanicals is what makes it different from other spirits. The juniper berries create a well-rounded flavour. In fact, juniper berries must be used for it to be classified as gin.
There are several types of gin, all of which have their own unique taste. Of course, we have pioneered Victoria’s first barrel aged gin, a relatively new invention of the early 2000s. This is gin that has been distilled and aged in wine barrels, bourbon barrels, and rye barrels amongst others. The other most common types of gin include London dry gin, Plymouth gin, old tom gin, and classic style gin.
Benefits of using hemp
Hemp is the key ingredient that separates our gin from others. It perfectly combines with other gin botanicals to create exquisite taste unparalleled by other gins on the market. In addition to taste, hemp has a multitude of benefits that cannot be ignored. Hemp is free from carbohydrates, safe to consume, sustainable to produce and has anti-inflammatory properties – and that’s just the start of it, as the list goes on!
Another key detail to mention here are the terpenes that hemp contains. Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds derived from plant species. The aroma and pigmentation of plants are largely due to the terpenes which they contain. Terpenes are the key factor here in how we produce some of the best Australian gin.
Terpenes also have several health benefits which you can find here.
How barrel aged whiskey is made
Whiskey is made through a process of malting, mixing & mashing, fermenting, distilling, and then ageing. Malting is used to extract sugar from the grains. These malted grains are then mixed with warm water. After several hours this mixture transforms into a thick liquid called mash. Once the maximum amount of sugar has been extracted from the mash it goes into the fermentation process.
Next comes the distillation. Normally, whiskey is distilled at least two to three times as this helps purify the liquid and increase the alcohol levels. Usually, whiskey is distilled using either a copper pot still or column still.
Finally, the distilled whiskey is put into the ageing process where it is poured into barrels, which gives barrel aged whiskey its distinct flavour and aroma.
Whiskey must go through several steps in order to get the liquid to a level that’s consumable. Gin on the other hand doesn’t require as many steps as its composed using natural botanicals.
Victorian innovations, Australian spirits
Victoria has some great local whiskey distilleries, with Starward and Bakery Hill producing an excellent drop – we absolutely support their endeavours (we hope you do too!), but we’re here to talk about gin.
We at Natural Distilling Co focus on supporting grassroots communities through growing locally, distilling our recipes and employing people locally – keeping everything as close to home as we can. And as a matter of fact, Victoria is very well suited for barrelling spirits – the extreme fluctuations in weather here in Victoria may be harsh on the human spirit but it is perfect for barrelling spirits of the liquid variety – the rapidly changing temperatures and humidity interact wonderfully with the barrels, accelerating a process that can take over a decade so that you will see similar results within mere months.
Health benefits of gin
Because gin is made from the super fruit juniper berries, it is considered one of the healthiest spirits to drink. The berries in gin contain antioxidant, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. It’s also very low in calories. Add the super plant hemp to the mix and you have yourself a winning combination!
The antioxidants in the juniper berries also help boost the regenerating cells in the human body which aids in healthier looking skin. Further, juniper berries fight against water retention which allows the body to flush out toxins faster. The oils within the juniper berries can also help with coughs and other chest & lung ailments.
Although Whiskey is a much harsher spirit, it does have some healthy properties. Whiskey contains polyphenols, which are plant-based antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, over time the consumption of whiskey has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. In contrast to gin, whiskey is high in calories at roughly 110 per standard shot.
Natural Distilling Co Barrel Aged Gin
Our barrel aged gin is unlike any other on the market. The combination of uniquely Australian botanicals and special distillation techniques has achieved an unparalleled character due to the aggressive barrel ageing techniques which only Victoria provides. It's earthy, bold, and sophisticated. An assertive yet distinctive spirit, providing a truly local flavour with notes of toasted oak matched by a smooth rich colour and deep aroma.
Our Award-Winning Limonene barrel aged gin is aged in American ex-bourbon casks, while our Silver Medal Winning Beta-Caryophyllene Gin is aged for 6 Months in Toasted American Oak Ex-Bourbon Casks. Both make for excellent base spirits for barrel aged gin cocktails such as barrel aged gin negroni, gin old fashioned, or a simple gin on the rocks.