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What appears to be the world's first bottled in bond gin is due this month from Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee.

Great Lakes Distillery releases world's first bottled in bond gin

Great Lakes Distillery, the state's first distillery to open since Prohibition, is also pioneering the new, uncharted waters of bottled in bond gin, creating what appears to be the world's first example.

Rehorst's bottled in bond gin, aged four years in oak casks and bottled at 100 proof, will launch on July 10, in the Walker's Point tasting room and around Wisconsin.

The release appears to be the first bottled in bond gin in the world.

The 1897 federal Bottled in Bond act set standards for age and quality that were meant to protect bourbon and rye whiskey, which until that point could be – and were – adulterated with all manner of other ingredients.

The bottled in bond rules now stipulate that a spirit must be distilled at a single distillery in a single season, aged for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof.

A May update to federal regulations and definitions, says founder Guy Rehorst, has been a fortuitous one for Great Lakes, which already had its gin aging in barrels.

Previously, gin could only be bottled in bond if it was stored in non-reactive wood containers, such as barrels lined with paraffin.

"It's something I don't believe anyone did," says marketing director Ross Salchow of the idea of non-reactive barrel-aging. "The new laws states that gin placed in reactive wood can be both 'aged' and 'bottled in bond' as opposed to words like 'rested' or 'oaked' to describe the process of resting in reactive barrels."

Rehorst adds, "With the increase of craft distillery innovation and consumers' evolving taste, the federal government periodically needs to update the standards and definitions.

"Aging gin in a barrel has become quite popular, and the government responded by updating the laws to better define it."

As luck would have it, when the rules changed, Great Lakes was ready to go.

"When we laid down the gin over four years ago, we had no idea it would turn into this, we just tucked the barrels away to see what long aging would do," says head distiller Nate Newbrough.

Those years in the barrel have added qualities that one associates more with whiskey than gin – vanilla, charred oak, cinnamon – alongside the more familiar notes of juniper and other botanicals, including the sweet basil hint that distinguishes Great Lakes' gin, says Salchow.

"It's aged like whiskey, it has flavors found in whiskey," he says. "People who enjoy gin or whiskey will certainly enjoy this product."

For more information, visit greatlakesdistillery.com.


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