Buried in the labyrinth of often silly norms surrounding spirits is one in which there is a kernel of wisdom: it should taste like what is it. In other words, bourbon should taste like it's made mostly made from corn, beer from barley, wine from grapes, and so on. It's these conventions that offer signposts for what you're getting into before you're in too deep. As somewhat of a traditionalist, I have gravitated towards these norms for comfort, for benchmarking, and to avoid morning after-mishaps: I just like to know what I'm getting into.
But every now and again something comes along that is so completely irreverent, it barely resembles the mold its name attempts shoehorn it into. Barr Hill's Tom Cat Gin is one such animal.
Aged in oak casks and doctored with raw honey, the botanical package is so mind-boggling as to leave you questioning whether this is gin at all. Is it a mead? A liqueur? Digestif? What the hell is it? But those questions never find purchase thanks to the dizzying, captivating luge ride of a drink this is. It's like catnip for adults.
It is so unusual to find something so complex, so departed from what its core set out to be, without distortion and caricature, and without becoming a tangle of confusion. But here it is. You can't help but dive into it again and again to drink up more of its beautiful kaleidoscope of sensations.
Bottled in both 375 and 750ml, you can find it online and in around ten states for between $40-55, making it an exceptional experience for a more-than-reasonable price. 96 Points.