The world's oldest gin sings in an Old Fashioned cocktail
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This week I tasted what is thought to be the world’s oldest gin. Launched by the House of MacDuff in Renfrewshire, Fifty/50 Gin has been aged in casks for a mind-boggling 20 years.
For the first 10, they chose virgin oak casks; this infused sweet vanilla, ginger and strong oak flavours. Then, for the second 10 years, they chose ex-whisky casks, which allowed the wood to impart greater depth of flavour.
As a result of this whopping 20-year maturation, the aged gin turned a deep golden colour and the juniper was on the down-low. So, to bring back that piney juniper vibe, the team combined the aged gin with newly distilled London Dry at a ratio of 1:1. (Hence the name Fifty/50!) And the result is a little cracker.
Up front there are rich caramel notes, followed by very mellow juniper with a creamy, almost velvety, mouth-feel. This got me thinking about the new wave of barrel-aged spirits and how to drink them.
With all the botanical richness of gin, plus a honey colour and notes of wood and vanilla, it can be hard to know what to do with aged gins, but the truth is it’s entirely up to you. Sip them neat or over ice, drink them with a light tonic or ginger ale, or – my personal favourite – really let them sing in an Old Fashioned cocktail.
Aged gins have the body and maturity to hold their own in this drink, but with a fresh botanical end-note. This stuff is good, people.
How to make an Old Fashioned
1 Drop one Demerara sugar lump into the bottom of a glass and splash 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters over it. Muddle the two together until you’ve formed something of a paste.
2 A dash – the smallest dash – of water will help quicken up this process along. Add about 20ml of aged gin to the glass, then stir until the sugar has dissolved. Fill the glass with ice, then top up with another 20ml of the gin, give it a quick final whirl and add orange peel to garnish.
Chrissie Fairclough is tastings director for Gin Club Scotland, which runs touring and distillery-based tastings, as well as offering tasting kits for people to run their own events. www.ginclubscotland.com