Sivan Cotel and Sas Stewart are building a dream. Co-founders of Stonecutter Spirits, an award-winning craft distillery located in the town of Middlebury, Vermont, they are venturing into the rarefied realm of barrel aging their light spirits. Few craft distillers are following suit. Not only is barrel aging light spirits an expensive, time-intensive practice, but it's a strategy that requires far greater skill and tremendous patience.
Stonecutter Spirits Single Barrel Gin is just such a spirit. It is made on a base of neutral grain spirits, which is then distilled with carefully selected botanicals, such as juniper, cardamom and orange peels. It is a recipe devised to accommodate the added flavors induced naturally from the wood. Little wonder it took them dozens of test batches to perfect the recipe. When the gin exits the still, it is transferred to charred, American white oak barrels previously used to age bourbon for maturation. It is bottled at 45% alcohol (90 proof).
Stonecutter Spirits Single Barrel Gin is elegance personified. It has a light golden appearance with pristine clarity, a lightweight body and a broad, juniper-forward nose. On the palate, the gin expands and delivers a balanced offering of tart citrus and earthy juniper. The caramel, vanilla and toasted oak flavors are most prevalent on the long, lingering finish.
The distillery has also garnered critical acclaim for its Stonecutter Spirits Heritage Cask Whiskey. About the best description of the whiskey comes from its back label…distilled like a bourbon, aged like an Irish Whiskey and finished like a Scotch. The whiskey is made from predominately corn and distilled twice in traditional pot stills. The whiskey is then transferred to charred, American white oak barrels for a minimum of four years. After the initial aging the whiskey is finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The whiskey is lightly filtered and bottled at 45% alcohol (90 proof).
The whiskey is a spirited tour de force. It has a red/copper hue, a medium-weight, velvety textured body and an expansive bouquet featuring the aromas of citrus, spice, vanilla, caramel and toasted oak. Like most complex spirits, this whiskey benefits greatly from some extra time breathing in the glass. Your patience will be rewarded tenfold. The Heritage Cask has a spicy warm entry, due in part to its elevated strength. The long finish features a skillfully produced flavor extravaganza, an elegant blend of chocolate, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, freshly brewed coffee and red wine.
This extraordinary whiskey should be first sampled neat, or served chilled with a single cube of ice. After that, reach for the nearest cocktail shaker and get moving.