I am a gin girl. Given the choice of spirit, I will always pick gin.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the men behind Salt Lake’s Beehive Distilling—partners Matt Aller, Erik Ostling and Chris Barlow.
With the success of their first product, Jack Rabbit Gin, jumping off the shelves around the country, Beehive Distilling is now also aging small batches of their gin in a style similar to fine whiskey.
Beehive recently released their first barrel-aged gin, called Barrel Reserve, taglined “wood, fire and patience”. It’s been aging in hand-charred French oak barrels for the past eight months and is now ready to tickle your tastebuds with their traditional gin flavors enhanced with vanilla and honey scents from the barrel that ultimately results in a smoky, spicy finish.
With only 30 cases of Barrel Reserve produced per 60-gallon barrel, it’s possible that just a few gin lovers in Utah will get to taste barrel 1 of Barrel Reserve outside of local restaurant’s liquor lists since it’s being scooped up by out-of-state distributors and on extremely limited release by DABC. The downtown wine store had 23 bottles in stock the day before Thanksgiving and you’ll be ever so thankful if you can get one.
With a price tag of just $38.99, it very reasonable for its smooth, sipping qualities just in time for the holiday season.
The DABC does have a handy product look up feature which I encourage you to use before shopping and even if Barrel Reserve is out of stock, don’t give up hope. Beehive’s distiller Chris Barlow is now putting up about a barrel of gin a month for aging so hopefully supply may eventually lead DABC to fill demands.
To entertain you while we wait, I had the chance to learn, firsthand, how Barlow chars the barrels as the first step in the aging process.
Since Barrel Reserve is in super limited supply, I’ll instead share with you a classic cocktail recipe for a martini featuring Beehive’s Jack Rabbit Gin—widely available at all Utah liquor stores. If you haven’t yet had a chance to taste this local treasure, it’s a good one. Juniper is still king on the palate but floral notes of rose petals and fruity hints from lemon peel complement sage leaves, coriander seeds, orris root and grain of paradise as their trademark flavor. This holiday season, drink local!
- 1 1/2 oz. Jack Rabbit Gin
- 1/2 oz. Ransom dry Vermouth
- optional lemon twist (or two olives and juice to taste for dirty)
uncharred French oak barrel
Used French oak barrels are purchased from California wineries by distiller Chris Barlow for aging Beehive Distilling’s Barrel Reserve gin.
Each French oak barrel used by Beehive Distilling will come from a different winery and may display slightly different characteristics so each barrel of Barrel Reserve will be distinct.
charring the head
The head of the barrel was removed for charring as well as the rest of the barrel. Distiller Chris Barlow learned the barrel charring process by watching You Tube videos.
charring the barrel
The 60-gallon barrel is heated with a propane torch until it begins to smoke and crackle and finally ignite into flames. A few moments of fire and the process is finished with a spray of water.
placing the head post char
The charred head of the French oak barrel is carefully replaced after charring so the barrel returns to its water-tight shape. It’s a messy, sooty job, but distiller Chris Barlow loves it.
reassembling a barrel after charring
Chris Barlow reassembles the barrel just after charring so it will regain its water-tight shape. He also seals in the smoky, charred scent that adds character to the Barrel Reserve gin.
Barrel Reserve bottles will be numbered with the barrel number they were produced from. This is barrel 1 still in the distillery getting ready for shipping.
Barrel 1 Barrel Reserve
Each bottle of Barrel Reserve will be marked with the barrel number from which it came. This is the first release of the new product–hence it’s barrel 1.
Barrel Reserve from Beehive Distilling
Cases of Barrel Reserve are beginning to ship out of state and to DABC for in-state distribution. The downtown wine store (store 35) typically received their shipments from the warehouse on Thursdays.
Jack Rabbit Gin martini
Beehive Distilling’s Barrel Reserve Gin is tough to find here in Utah still so here’s a recipe for a classic gin martini made with Beehive’s Jack Rabbit Gin.
1 1/2 oz. Jack Rabbit Gin
1/2 oz. Ransom dry Vermouth
optional lemon twist (or two olives and juice to taste for dirty)