Prior to the Single Bottle Act of 1861 gin was stored in wooden casks. Even after the act allowed distillers to sell their gin by the bottle, wooden casks were often used to transport gin over larger distances, particularly internationally. This meant that historically gin was barrel rested, or cask aged.
This had the impact of mellowing the spirit, but as glass bottles took hold as the way to store and transport gin that influence was lost to the majority.
In recent years, the renaissance of gin has seen distillers experimenting with all aspects of production to find their specific flavour and style. Fortunately, this has seen a number of distilleries experiment with barrel resting for flavour and experience, not necessity. Some talk about days in the barrel (rested) whilst choose to allow their spirit to evolve for years in wooden, generally oak, casks (aged). As well as time spent in the cask, distillers have a wide range of pre-used barrels to effect the final flavour of the gin.
Bringing back this art adds a whole new dimension to our gin choices, makes drinking gin new experience and changes gin’s contribution to a cocktail.
Try replacing your standard gin with an aged gin in your gin cocktail, for me a Smoky Martini is a particular favourite for a rested gin...a Red Snapper too. Thereafter, give your gin a go in place of other aged spirits, for example an Old Fashioned.
Neat over ice is also a great way to enjoy these gins, allowing your to fully savour to subtlety that ageing a spirit in wood imbues.