As enthusiasm for craft spirits has swept through Fort Lauderdale, clear distilled gin from Prescribed Spirits has been par for the course for a little more than a year. But now owner A.J. Fazendin is changing it up with barrel-aged gin.
Fazendin produced the gin using his own recipe and the distilling system at South Florida Distillers, then filled 30-gallon virgin American oak barrels with the spirit on December 12 and aged it for roughly 90 days.
The barrels, which were previously used to age whiskey, impart a dark-brown, or, as Fazendin describes it, an “apple juice,” color to it. If you’re a clear-gin imbiber, a brown gin may not be something you expect to see — or want to drink. But don’t give up yet; Fazendin may be on to something.
Gin in barrels isn’t exactly a new concept. A handful of distilleries in the United States has been making it for the past decade or so, although Prescribed may be the first to do it in South Florida. Dutch distiller Bols claims to use a barrel-aged genever (a juniper-flavored spirit from which gin came) recipe dating back to the 19th Century.
Between the wood and juniper characteristics, it’s a recipe for complex flavors. Spiciness seems to be a common denominator.
“Barrel-aged gin will have a mellow spiciness to it, and then you’ll start to pick up the whiskey flavor,” Fazendin says.
He’ll soon have 15 to 16 cases, or roughly 150 bottles, for the taking at the end of March. He plans to sell the gin only to craft cocktail bars across Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties, although he hasn’t entirely discounted the idea of retail stores.
Don’t expect to see “barrel-aged” on the label, though, since the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the U.S. agency in charge of approving alcohol recipes, labels, etc.) doesn’t consider gin to be an aged product and will not allow it on a label because it could be considered misleading.
But do expect to see more local cocktail menus that carry Fazendin’s barrel-aged gin. Taurus Beer and Whiskey House in Coconut Grove briefly experimented with an Aged Perfect Martini made with Nolly Pratt sweet and dry vermouth and Prescribed Spirits gin aged for 45 days.
“I’d like to see some of these guys get their hands on it and make more aged cocktails,” Fazendin says.