Tom Cat is many things to different people! A male cat. A Grumman F-14 Tomcat, a military fighter jet. A DC Comics character, son of Wildcat to name but a few. It is also now the name of an awesome barrel-aged gin from the craft distillers Caledonia Spirits, Hardwick Vermont.
The Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin is the single most interesting and completely awesome gin I have tasted period. This is the first-ever release of an aged gin from master distiller Todd Hardie and is currently an exclusive to New York City. It is created by ageing the already well established and multi award winning Barr Hill Gin. This gin is created from a pure grain spirit distilled from corn. This pure base serves as a canvas to showcase locally sourced juniper berries. The key and very unique ingredient comes courtesy of Todd’s special little friends his honey bees, that he has been cultivating for the last 49 years. Raw honey is added just before bottling. This raw honey imparts unique floral qualities and a delicate yet intense touch of sweetness.
But why called a gin Tom Cat? The sweetness of this gin puts it firmly in the category of an Old Tom Gin, popular in 18th-century England. It is sweeter than London Dry and drier than Dutch Jenever and has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity mainly due to the craft cocktail movement. The name Old Tom Gin purportedly came from wooden plaques shaped like a black tom cat mounted on the outside wall of some pubs above a public walkway in 18th century England. Gin had been forced underground by scandalous journalism that had blamed gin for a murdered family! These plaques would conceal a tube held between the cats paws which would dispense a shot of the now outlawed gin once the cats mouth had had the required penny deposited for the bar man waiting inside!
Now Spring is firmly with us and as my Mom says most sunny Sundays “It’s Gin-o’clock!” and this great gin is perfect sipping neat on ice and a citrus slice excellent in many number of cocktails. I had it this weekend in a flute topped of with a champagne. A take on a Kia Royal except with gin.
The Nose: floral juniper, sweet lemon citrus, fresh wood and honey
The Palate: clementine, caramel, sweet vanilla and sawdust
The Finish: too good to be true!
Enjoy this special spirit and raise a glass to the bees, oh and the Caledonia team for thinking of it a making it!