The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Barrel Aged Negroni takes sophisticated aperitif to a new level

Having created organic versions of each component of the noble Negroni – delicious East Block 200 gin, hibiscus-infused L’Opera and the deeply rich, red Rubis vermouth, the duo behind Hastings Distillers have crafted something new.

Kate Galloway and David Ramonteu have just released their Barrel-Aged Negroni – an exquisite, complex aperitif aged in French oak.

Distiller and co-founder Kate Galloway, who – like partner David – has a background as a winemaker, says while ageing wine in oak is relatively commonplace, crafting spirits in this way is less well understood. “We are one of only a handful of distillers worldwide ageing their Negroni,” she begins, “and there are very few who are doing so using their own handcrafted products. We are definitely unique in that respect.”

Certainly, for the Hastings Distillers Barrel Aged Negroni, the flavours are transformed by 18 months resting in a bespoke 300L oak barrel. The bright orange of the popular L’Opera deepens into marmalade and candied peel, the vermouth is darkened and ripened, while the juniper, lavender, kaffir lime and feijoa leaf of the gin contribute dried herb and savoury notes.

It’s an experience unlike any other Negroni on offer in New Zealand currently, and with only 500 bottles produced, it makes a special gift or treat for oneself, promising to become a highlight of the home cocktail trolley. “Negroni is really having a moment,” Kate says. “When we first opened our tasting room here in Hastings, we might have mixed around four Negronis a month. Now we’re making them four at a time.”

Kate puts the drink’s popularity down to a number of factors. “It’s an elegant pre-dinner option, not too sweet, and looks impressive served in a short glass over a large format ice cube.”

She also notes that the Negroni has long held a reputation for being “sophisticated, complex and a little bitter – much like the people who drink them”.

Uniquely, each ingredient in the Barrel Aged Negroni is created 100% organically. “We source our botanicals from gin gardens around Hawke’s Bay,” says Kate, “and we’re committed to growing using the holistic principals of biodynamic horticulture.”

For the uninitiated, biodynamic growing is organics, but taken a step further, “because we firmly believe that aside from the environmental benefits of growing and cultivating in this way, what we are harvesting is truly superior in terms of flavour and energetics.”

The oak aging was an idea that struck both Kate and David as a pathway to infusing their Negroni with interesting char, toffee and mocha characteristics. “As winemakers, it was only natural to us to try the method of using French oak, and it was interesting to strike that fine balance between ageing it too much, and not enough – finding just the right balance of flavour. We feel the result is a sophisticated aperitif with a refined structure and excellent persistence that is just as delicious pre-dinner as it is to conclude an evening.”

Hastings Distiller Barrel Aged Negroni, available to buy now at

• Biogro certified organic
• Non-filtered or fined
• Containing no animal products
• Alc/Vol: 27%
• Vol: 500mL

RRP $95

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