Debunking the Myth - Terrior Belongs to the Oenophile
by Juan Vega
One word that is most often associated with the sophisticated wine palate is terroir – the smell and the sense of the place where the grapes were grown. Terroir is an oenophiles word. It doesn’t belong with the brewer or distiller. Not so. Taste the Barr Hill gin from Caledonia Spirits.
Based in Hardwick, VT, Caledonia Spirits bases their production on honey and founder Todd Hardie has spent the better part of 50 years forming a long and healthy relationship with the land, honey bees, and the crops that are used: local elderberries, corn, barley, and rye. Honey can be a very inconsistent sugar source, and so every batch made will exhibit the distinct characteristics of that source. These spirits truly speak of their time and place, the ingredients used and the environment that is their birthplace. The Barr Hill Line of spirits from Caledonia Spirits defy the notion that terroir only applies to the world of wine.
Recently, Alex Weiss joined us and poured through the line of Barr Hill spirits. First up was Barr Hill Vodka. Local raw honey is fermented into mead, or honey wine. They then distill this twice, sometimes three times (but never any more) to produce vodka. This allows the vodka to retain the unique qualities of honey. Barr Hill Vodka is neutral in flavor but holds a soft, creamy mouth feel. Its rich and sweet aroma carries through to the taste, providing the subtlest resemblance to the honey base.
The base for Barr Hill Gin is ethanol produced from local grain crops. This base is distilled twice, like the vodka, then run once through a custom built botanical extraction still. The juniper flavor is extracted in the vapor path as the alcohol travels through the still. Just before bottling, raw honey is added to the final product. Barr Hill Gin is a remarkably smooth spirit, unmistakably gin but at the same time uniquely round and soft. The honey addition hues the liquid to a pale gold.
The last spirit pour was Barr Hill Old Tom. This spirit is made by taking the regular gin from above, then aging it in charred American white oak barrels for six months. The char gives the spirit a golden amber hue. The oak flavors meld with the honey notes in the gin, and they create a mellow spiciness and a rich, complex flavor. It’s amazing.
All three Barr Hill items are now featured here at Nicholas Roberts. We are excited to have them in our portfolio of fine spirits. We think you’ll be excited too with your first sip. You can order directly on our website or you can call 203-656-9463 to speak to any of our expert staff. Terroir is only an oenophiles word - a myth debunked.