The new beverage is only available at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery for now.
You’ve likely heard of whiskey aged in wine barrels. The process enhances the flavor of the liquor, and gives it an imprint unique to the distillery where it was created. It seems as though Starbucks is adopting that technique with their newest beverage: cold brew aged in gin barrels.
Starbucks has used this method before: Last year, the coffee chain released a whiskey-barrel aged Sulawesi coffee. This time, Starbucks partnered with the Seattle-based gin distillery Big Gin to age their small batch Rwandan coffee beans in its oak barrels.
Over a period of several weeks, the coffee beans are “hand-rotated in the barrel,” in order to absorb the flavors of pepper, cardamom, and vanilla from the gin barrels, which previously held bourbon. Then, the beans are roasted, during which time the alcohol from the barrels burns off the beans, leaving behind the aroma and flavors of the gin.
According to a statement from the company, the final version of the coffee is complimented by citrus notes and a distinct caramel aftertaste derived from the bourbon
“The beans absorb the botanical essence of the gin, bringing out its bright citrus notes with a sweet caramel finish,” Jennifer Galbraith, Starbucks manager of product development said in a statement. “The resulting cup is rich, nuanced and unlike anything we’ve tasted before.”
At the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, the cold brew is served as a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage mixed with a dash of lime bitters and garnished with lime. It’s a coffee-based spin on the gin and tonic.
The new drink goes on sale today, and is only available at the Reserve Roastery for now, so if you’re in Seattle and you're just dying to find out what a gin and tonic would taste like if it had coffee in it, this is the drink for you.