StateWays - May/June 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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37 StateWays ■ ■ May/June 2016 FL AVORED VODKAS Flavored vodkas are not without their detractors, who con- tend suppliers are fi lling the marketplace with youth-oriented fl avors that lack pedigree and sophistication. Have vodka pro- ducers gone too far by introducing confectionary fl avors? Do these vodkas contradict to the contemporary mixology trends? Levi Walker, craft spirit specialist for Young's Market Com- pany in San Diego, says in this age of healthful lifestyles that dosing vodkas with artifi cial fl avors has run its course. "I think vodkas laced with natural fl avors are what's needed, such as lavender, rosemary or hops," he says. "These are products I make for cocktails and they are delicious. But then again you have to ask the question, 'what's wrong with an adult wanting to enjoy a beverage that makes them feel like a kid again?'" THE ART OF FLAVOR Don't let their simplicity fool you. Creating a genuinely re- markable fl avored vodka is challenging and requires striking a delicate balance between man—technique, science and pas- sion—and nature—water, grain and fl avor. It's far from a straight- forward proposition. An artisanal fl avored vodka is especially unforgiving. Any fl aws or missteps are immediately apparent in the glass. Yet when done really well, fl avored vodkas are sublime treats for the senses. Americans have made fl avored vodkas one of the most suc- cessful spirit segments in the beverage business. In the event you missed the initial fanfare surrounding their release, here is a scouting report on some of the best and brightest new fl avors on the market. Absolut Tune — One of the recent offerings from an early pioneers of fl avored vodkas, Pernod Ricard's Absolut Tune is a break from conventionality. It is a blend of Absolut Vodka (40%) and Sauvignon Blanc (60%) from the New Zealand's Marlborough region. Fine carbonation is added before it's bottled at 28 proof (14% alcohol by volume). The fusion is clear with a silky body, generous fruit-laced bouquet and a dry palate of white wine and dried fruit. Cold River Blueberry — Made in Freeport, Maine, Cold River Vodka is a handcrafted, pot-distilled spirit made from lo- cally grown potatoes, spring water and Maine blueberries. The vodka's essential purity out of the still means that it requires only minimal fi ltering before bottling. The crystal clear vodka has a medium-weight, lushly textured body and a brilliant bou- quet. The fl awless fi nish is like the holy chorus of blueberries. It's an 80-proof homage to nature. Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso — Made in Bend, Oregon, Bendistillery's acclaimed Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka is a small-batch spirit distilled from local grain and spring water from the Cascades. The vodka is aged in oak barrels and fi l- tered 10 times through lava and charcoal before being infused with hazelnut espresso beans and a small amount of brown sugar. The vodka has the look and enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee with light nutty notes. Domaine Charbay Green Tea — This artisanal vodka is handcrafted once a year in Napa Valley from Midwestern grain and spring water. It is then infused in Zen-like harmony with four varieties of fi rst growth green teas, each of which is se- lected for its individual fl avor and aroma. The 70-proof vodka has a light amber hue and appealing fl oral and herbal notes. Its lingering fi nish is imbued with the fl avor of freshly brewed green tea. It's a delightfully understated spirit. Hangar One Fraser River Raspberry — This seasonal offer- ing is produced each June from Washington State raspberries. The freshly picked berries are macerated in vodka, after which it is redistilled in the alembic still. Before bottling, raspberry juice is added for complexity and a touch of natural sweetness and color. The Proximo Spirits vodka has the focused aromas of sun-drenched raspberries warming on the vine. Its palate is a

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