I like gin, but I’m usually more of a whiskey kind of guy. Those delicious barrel maturation flavors — vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, baking spices — can’t be beat. And all of these are flavors that you don’t normally see in a gin. But the folks at You & Yours Distilling have done a bit of experimentation and matured some of their London Dry style gin in a previously used whiskey barrel, making for an amazing combination of gin and barrel maturation flavors.
Laura Johnson is a woman driven by the desire to be a distiller.
She first was bitten by the distilling bug when on a trip to Cuba with her father when she was 18 years old, standing in awe at the Havana Club distillery when Johnson says everything just clicked for the first time. Since then, she has devoted her life to learning the craft and the business of distilling spirits, graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in business and subsequently training at Dry Fly Distilling, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and the Distilled Spirits Epicenter Master Distiller’s program.
Even after all of that education and training, she found it difficult to get an apprenticeship at a distillery and break into the industry. So she said the words that every great entrepreneur says at some point: “F*** it. I’ll just learn everything else along the way.”
Johnson decided to simply open her own distillery, and in 2017 after three years of planning and fundraising, she opened the doors of You & Yours Distilling in San Diego, California. Her vision was to create a distillery that combined the quality of the products with the quality of the experience at the distillery to make a truly unforgettable brand. The brand has flourished in their downtown San Diego location, and Laura has even started a scholarship to help other women get their start in the field of distilled spirits.
- Learn More: What Is Gin?
The flagship gin for You & Yours is an American style spirit they call their “Sunday Gin”, but this is proof that they also know how to make a good traditional London Dry with a heavier hand on the juniper berries. As such, there are a bunch of elements you’ll see on the ingredient list but there’s at least one or two elements on the list that you might find interesting.
This gin takes a distinctly Californian twist straight off the bat — instead of using grains, the base spirit for this gin is made from grapes. The grape juice is pressed from the fruit, fermented to convert the natural sugar into alcohol, and then distilled to make the initial batch of neutral spirit for this gin.
As is traditional, that spirit is then steeped with a bunch of botanical elements to create an alcoholic version of a tea, infusing the flavors of those elements into the spirit. Specifically, for this style of gin, those elements are:
- Pink peppercorn
- Orris root
- Spruce tips
- Blood orange
Once properly flavored, the spirit is then re-distilled in the single hybrid still that the distillery operates in their back room to create their standard London Dry gin.
For this bottling, that gin is then placed into previously-used single malt whiskey barrels for a little extra flavoring and maturation for 60 days and then bottled for sale.
The overall shape of the bottle is a common design we’ve seen from a couple newer distilleries (and for good reason — it looks pretty great). The straight cylindrical walls of the body curve sharply inward at the shoulder, leading to a medium length neck and capped off with a wood and cork stopper. It’s a modern take on the traditional spirits bottle, and one that perfectly accompanies the modern chic ambiance of the distillery itself.
I’m not a huge fan of their front label here, mainly because I’ve seen them do better on their other products. In this case, they’ve gone with an illustration of their Sunday Gin logo, only now it’s on a paper label with the illustration in black and metallic silver ink. The effect is cool and I like their illustration, but the whole idea here is that the barrel aging alters the color of the gin in a striking way. I want to be able to see that color, and the label covers up a good portion of it.
Along the bottom is a handwritten tag detailing the batch this bottle came from, what bottle number it is, the source gin, and how it was matured. This is an excellent personal touch, but it could have been accomplished with a much smaller label.
The very first thing you’ll notice is that this spirit isn’t the typical crystal clear color that we usually expect from a gin. Instead, there’s a pale yellow hue to the spirit; a light gold color that comes from that brief contact with the oak barrel.
It seems like the barrel resting has also done a good job of dialing down the intensity of the juniper in the aroma. A London Dry gin will usually make me feel like someone shoved an entire Christmas Tree up my nose, but in this case it’s much closer to the pleasant wafting aroma of pine trees in a forest on a winter’s day. Softening that juniper even further is some of the clove and orris root providing an earthy aroma, and the orange citrus adding a touch of levity and brightness.
While the orange citrus might have been a minor component of the aroma, it is the predominant flavor that comes across almost immediately as soon as you take a sip. There’s a touch of vanilla and brown sugar initially, and those flavors provide a nice cushion for what comes next, but as soon as that bright and tangy blood orange makes an appearance it’s the clearest flavor you’ll get. Competing for dominance is the pine flavor from the juniper and spruce, but the orris root and clove provide enough depth and earthiness to balance out the pine.
On the finish I finally see some of that black pepper spice from the actual black pepper that they used, and the tangy blood orange is the predominant lingering flavor as everything else fades into the background.
With the addition of a little bit of ice this becomes a completely different spirit.
When taken neat, the blood orange and juniper flavors were battling for supremacy. But that battle completely disappears as soon as the ice hits the drink. Instead, the most predominant flavors are the earthy and rich components like the clove and the orris root, which almost gives this a root beer flavor profile when combined with the vanilla and brown sugar hints (which are likely a result of the barrel aging).
That’s not to say that the herbaceous and citrus notes have disappeared — instead, they are more subtext for the main components. You can see them most clearly on the finish as the tangy blood orange is still the most predominant flavor there, and they do add some levity and brightness to what might otherwise be an overly earthy profile.
It’s a more moody and complex take on a gin.
Fizz (Tom Collins)
I had some high hopes for this as a cocktail… and while I think it shows some promise, I don’t think it’s quite right.
What works here is that the flavors in the gin absolutely do make an appearance, and aren’t simply drowned out by everything else going on. The clove and orris root provide a good earthy and rich foundation that helps to balance out the lemon juice, and the citrus from the blood orange is bright and cheerful in the cocktail as well.
Where this goes a little off the rails is in creating a positive feedback loop with the citrus in this cocktail. The earthy flavors would have been enough to balance the lemon juice on their own, but with the addition of that blood orange it falls squarely in the “tangy” area of the flavor map. It makes this a bright, citrus-forward drink which might work for those wanting something a little different. But to me it is just a bit too unbalanced, resembling a margarita a bit too closely for my liking.
Normally, I’m not a person who likes a negroni. I find them a little bitter, and the mixer components tend to cover up the flavors of the gin too much. But in this case, there’s actually enough of the gin coming through that it at least makes for something interesting to sip.
Of all the flavors in here, I feel like y’all can probably guess the two that really make an appearance (and for all those who said “clove and blood orange”, you’d be right). These flavors are just enough to add a bit more earthiness and richness to bolster the vermouth and provide some good balance to the drink, and on the finish the blood orange kicks in with that tangy citrus flavor and makes for a crisp, flavorful finish.
It’s far better than most Negronis I taste.
I think there are some really good things going on here. The brief stint in an oak barrel seems to have mellowed out some of the flavors that can make a London Dry style gin less appealing, and added a bit of softness in the form of some subtle vanilla and brown sugar notes as well. But I feel like that hasn’t gone quite far enough. There’s plenty of tangy blood orange left here that can be a bit of a shock in cocktails, and I’d love to see more saturation of those oak maturation flavors to balance things even further.
What we have here is an experiment that, on balance, I think is worth checking out. The gin is interesting and definitely useful in cocktails, but might need a bit of tweaking to accommodate the unique components that it brings to the table.
|You & Yours Provisional Whiskey Barrel Rested London Dry Gin|
Produced By: You & YoursProduction Location: California, United States
Classification: London Dry Gin
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 94% ABV
Price: $85 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 3/5
Pine trees, blood orange citrus, and a bit of clove with just a wafting awareness of vanilla and brown sugar. A good experiment that I would love to see taken a bit further.