The UK’s gin revolution has opened up a whole new world to those of us who enjoy a drop, on account of the fact that virtually every town in the British Isles now seems to be home to a boutique distillery.
But, despite having tried the products of many such “small batch” gin-makers, I feel I have only scratched the surface of what’s available – and until recently, was reluctant to try the “cask-aged” stuff that acquires a golden hue as a result of being stored in wooden barrels. To my mind, the extreme clarity of a really good “conventional” gin is all part of the spirit’s purity (illusory or otherwise), meaning I have always regarded any that’s cask-aged as being tainted, both literally and metaphorically.
But that all changed a few months ago, when I discovered that my favourite maker of all, Martin Miller’s, had gone the cask-aged route with a release of around 2,000 bottles of high-strength gin (£45.75 for 35cl) that has been left to rest in a single, unused Bourbon whisky cask for nine months – hence its 9 Moons name.
The result is a 40 per cent spirit that tastes unmistakably of gin, but which benefits from the added characteristics of an extremely subtle, woody undertone and, of course, a delicate colour (that often leads to bemused expressions on the faces of uninitiated guests who request a gin and tonic and get something that looks like whisky).
I’m told that supplies of 9 Moons are running somewhat low, but the lovely squat, cube-shaped 35cl bottles are still available at Thewhiskyexchange.com – and the good news is that co-founders Andreas Versteegh and David Bromige are currently experimenting with ageing further small batches in a variety of oak barrels over different periods of time.
At first, I couldn’t help wondering what Martin Miller himself – the third (and now sadly late) co-founder of the eponymous brand – would think of such tinkering. But when I raised a glass of 9 Moons in his memory only last night, I took the lack of grumblings from the great distillery in the sky to indicate that he would probably have approved…