Tallinn-based Distillirium was one of the first craft distilleries in Estonia. It was founded in 2017. Metsis (Wood Grouse), a big bird that lives in the Estonian forest, has given the name to the brand and is also featured on the bottle’s label. Metsis Gin is the company’s flagship product and is also a base on several other products, such as hemp-flavored Hemp Gin and Attitude gin, which has an extra burn of chili pepper. Barrel Aged Gin has also the same base, where the main spices are juniper berry, coriander, angelica root, grain of paradise and lemon peel. The raw alcohol is distilled from organic rye in Estonia. Metsis Gin is distilled once in a small pot still. After distillation, the gin is matured in oak barrels for a few months (the maturing time is not specified by the manufacturer). Metsis Ginit is widely available in Estonian stores and also in a few other countries. A 20 cl bottle costs about € 15.
Barrel maturing may have taken away the sharpest aroma from the herbs. The aroma is smooth and balanced, slightly herbal. There is a nuance of olive oil or similar. The mouthfeel is also slightly oily and the taste is smooth and rich. The taste is very similar to the traditional Metsis Gin, but the barreling has softened it and brought in a little fruitiness and vanilla. The taste has flavors of juniper berries, coriander and nutmeg, but none of these really stand out, it is very well balanced. The aftertaste has a slight aroma of oak wood, but mostly a sweet, spicy and peppery aroma remains in the mouth.
Metsis Barrel Aged is a good gin for neat sipping. Of course, the 44% strength comes out quite sharply, so a drop of water or a couple of ice cubes in the glass might be needed. I also made a few traditional cocktails of it, which does give a nice taste, although the sharpest peak of the herbs is cut in the barrel. Especially long cocktails made of barrel-matured gin somehow feel like a waste. For them the traditional Metsis Gin is a more natural choice. The few months that the gin has matured in the barrel have not brought so much to the taste, but just a bit more of sweetness and softness. If you never sip gin neat and and just make cocktails with it, it’s maybe not a good idea to buy a Barrel Age Gin at home. Rather grab a traditional Metsis Gin, which is also a few euros cheaper.