Monday, May 17, 2010

Some Finds Among the Micros

I attended a tasting of micro-distillery spirits on Sunday at the East Village restaurant Butter. The event was part of this week's Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Some by-now-well-known micros were in attendance, such as Catdaddy moonshine, Tuthilltown's line of boutique whiskeys and Square One vodka, but I did find a few things that were new to my eyes.

Philadelphia Distilling, known for its Bluecoat Gin, which is carried in 27 states, is now producing a vodka called Penn 1681 Rye Vodka. It's made from organic rye which, master distiller said Robert Cassell said, comes entirely from Pennsylvania farmers. Though Cassell emphasized the smooth, neutral character of the vodka, the spark of the rye base is easily detectable when you taste it. For now, it's only available in Pennsylvania and Delaware. $20 is the reasonable asking price.

Harvest Spirits is now producing what they say is the only applejack being made in New York State. The Hudson Valley distillery is on a 200-acre apple farm and almost everything they do uses those apples. In addition to the Cornelius Applejack—which has a real bite to it, and, at $40, is on the steep side, especially when Bonded Laird's only costs $20—they make Core Vodka, the apple base of which is unmistakable. It's tastes unlike any other vodka. No need to make an Appletini out of this; it's already halfway there. They also make an Apple Brandy and Pear Brandy.

On its way is Redemption Rye, which is distilled in Indiana and comes from Dave Schmier, the same guy would produces Orange V orange-flavored vodka. Two things you need to know about this rye: it's distilled from 95% rye (the legal requirement if 51%) and its bottled at 92 proof, a good notch above typical alcohol levels. So you have a relatively hot, spicy tipple here. What's more, Schmier plans to come out with a Barrel Strength Bottling in July, at 120-125 proof! A single barrel rye is also on the way. The price on Redemption isn't bad: $25.99. The Barrel Strength will be $39.99.

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