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A Used Barrel is an Abused Barrel: Roundhouse Imperial Barrel Aged Gin

T. Edward Wines, Craft Spirits distributor, Roundhouse Imperial Barrel Aged Gin

Ted Palmer doesn’t make spirits by accident. The distiller at Roundhouse Spirits in Boulder, Colorado is deliberate with his craft and so his decision to produce a barrel-aged gin was one that came after much consideration before it was first released at the start of 2011. Imperial, the name of Palmer’s unique spirit, was available first in Colorado and more recently in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which makes it a true pioneer in the recently burgeoning category of barrel-aged gins.

And though Roundhouse might not have been the first to craft a contemporary domestic Barrel Aged Gin (that honor goes to Ransom Old Tom Gin from Oregon, which was first released in 2008) they do stand apart from their peers in terms of ingredients and process.  Using 11 certified-organic hand-ground botanicals, Roundhouse Imperial Barrel Aged Gin spends 11-12 months in new American oak barrels with #2 or #3 char, while most others tend to max out at three months in repurposed barrels. “A used barrel is an abused barrel,” said Ted. And as Robert Simonson recently wrote of barrel-aged gins in The New York Times, “the choice of barrel is a crucial issue. Most companies use old whiskey barrels.” Not Imperial. Palmer insists on using only new freshly charred barrels (ranging in size from 5- to 15-Gallons), a decision that originally had him describing Imperial as a “Ginskey.” The resultant spirit is unparalleled both in its uncannily complex aroma and seemingly unique hybrid style.

T. Edward Wines, Craft Spirits Distributor, Roundhouse Imperial Barrel Aged Gin, Karen Ulrich for T. Edward Wines

While conducting his botanical research in Holland, Ted said that he “absolutely loved the Oude gins, which are barrel aged.”  At Roundhouse, “The age is determined by the barrels; only new, small barrels are used at the moment and these barrels will age the spirits to perfection in less than a year.  I use only Missouri American White Oak for my barrels,” he added, “as it has a smoother and sweeter taste compared to other southern oaks.”

What’s it like? Well, we think Nathan Borchelt of Paste Magazine summed Imperial up nicely when he wrote, “to non gin-drinkers, it’s a revelation. And as for gin-lovers, their world just got a lot more vibrant. On the rocks, it’s almost too drinkable. In a Negroni, the smoky earthiness from the wood combined with the Imperial’s floral highlights practically transforms the cocktail.”

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