OLD NO. 176™ Barrel Reserve
Old No. 176™ Barrel Reserve is a special version of our “railroad” gin. It is an unusual gin, distilled directly off of the same corn mash used for our whiskey, but with the juniper and other botanicals, and then rested used bourbon barrels.
No. 176 was the first custom built engine for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. The CB&Q RR ran along the same tracks on which today the Burlington Northern Railroad runs through Riverside, Illinois, just yards away from the distillery.
Old No. 176™ Barrel Reserve Railroad Gin is made from a unique formulation: a historical experiment. An 1819 treatise, written by a Frenchman attempting to sell his patented stills to the Kenturcky Bourbon industry, described how to make a single-distillation gin from a grain mash, as a way of diversifying the products that could be made with the same base ingredients as their whiskey. He proposed that the botanicals could be added to the last of the “thumpers” that condense and reflux the spirit as it is distilled, resulting in a product resembling the Dutch Old Genever gin that was an expensive import at the time.
The gin produced by this method is a far cry from dry gins in the English style; the corn whiskey base carries sweeter notes than the neutral spirit that underlies a standard American Gin. Some bourbon distillers made gin by a similar process before prohibition, and moonshiners continued this practice to make what was known as “railroad gin.” This inspired us to name our gin after engine no. 176, the first custom-built for the Chicago-Burlington-Quincy railroad that connected the village of Riverside to the city of Chicago. Since prohibition, gin in America has been the dry, English-style gin we know today, but Old No. 176™ Barrel Reserve marks a return to the sipping gins of old. Like many of the “Old Toms”, the Barrel Reserve has been rested in used oak barrels until it has taken on color and flavors from the barrel.
The mash bill for Old No. 176™ is 83% corn with the balance barley malt and rye malt, same as for our Water Tower White Lightning™ unaged corn whiskey and Bourbon Spring™ young rested Illinois bourbon whiskey. It is fermented and distilled on grain after mashing. The gin is traditionally handmade with a single distillation in our copper pot still. While still juniper-forward, our gin marries the traditional piney flavor of juniper with coriander, elderberry, orris root, and angelica root, and finishes with the nuanced bitter-sweet of licorice root. The time the Barrel Reserve has spent in oak barrels previously used to age our Bourbon Spring™ whiskey mellows out the juniper and adds color and subtle flavors. The result is a very unique spirit, with some of the characteristics found in both gin and whiskey.
Old No. 176™ Barrel Reserve is sipping gin, not dry, that can be enjoyed on its own or in your favorite cocktail. We also enjoy it neat or on ice. But you might try substituting it for gin or whiskey, let your imagination guide you!
We use 7 different botanicals for making Old No. 176™ Barrel Reserve Railroad Gin. Juniper berries provide the dominant flavor, as it would be for any gin, but we also include coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, licorice root, and elderberry.
Handmade just a short walk away from the original location of the train tracks where its namesake engine ran for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, Old No. 176.™ Barrel Reserve Railroad Gin is a most unusual gin, as wonderful sipped neat or with ice as it is mixed in a cocktail.
THE FINE PRINT
Distilled and bottled by Quincy Street Distillery in Riverside IL 60546. 750ml at 44% alcohol by volume (88 proof), single distilled gin from grain.