Bill Dowd photoThis potato-based product of Maine is a marketing success story, dreamed up by brothers Lee and Donnie Thibodeau just three years ago and already with a demand that has gone beyond its New England roots.
• Cold River Vodka:
My preference in vodkas lies primarily with potato-based spirits. Despite the contentions of some people that there are no real differences between vodkas, there are. Maine has been known for centuries for its quality potatoes, and that and the pristine local water combine for a smooth, elegant product in Cold River.
The company also is smart enough to realize the demand for gluten-free drinks -- recognized primarily in the brewing industry so far -- is growing and makes a point of noting that, unlike grain-based vodkas, its vodka is gluten free.
My standard test for a vodka is to try it three ways: straight at room temperature, straight right out of the freezer, and in a basic vodka martini. Cold River works best, well, cold. Chilling seems to bring out some of the sweetness of the potato base, a nuance that holds up well to a splash of dry vermouth in a martini. A truly excellent product.
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