A playful spin on “Old Tom” gin, Barr Hill’s Tom Cat takes its standard Barr Hill Gin and ages it in bourbon barrels for six months. For those unfamiliar, the Barr Hill brand is part of Caledonia Spirits, based in Hardwick, Vermont. Like Barr Hill’s other spirits, a touch of local honey is used in the mix to give the gin a unique character.
Surprisingly dark, almost whiskeylike, in color, the nose surprises with a bright juniper and lemon note, with only the slightest indication that any kind of barrel is involved with this spirit’s production — with hints of cloves and a light, oily leather character. A hoppy note here that builds with time in the glass evokes IPA more than bourbon.
The palate is quite different, clearly the product of a barrel regimen, with an intense licorice and clove note immediately hitting the roof of the mouth, followed by notes of burnt caramel, orange peel, and a more general gingerbread/baking spice character. On the tongue, juniper all but fades away as the sweeter, darker elements take over. The finish is actually quite chocolaty, more reminiscent of a flavored whiskey than anything from the gin world.