Bill Dowd photoLong Island lost the vast majority of its farms when the post-World War II housing boom sent streams of people east from New York City and in from other states in search of affordable housing from the late 1940s well into the early '60s. Luckily, the famous Long Island potato survived on the still-agricultural far eastern points of the island. Here's one reason I use the word "luckily."
• LiV Vodka
LiV rhymes with "5," and has that many influences. Not the vodka itself. That's 100% Long Island potatoes, which immediately puts it into the super-premium category, as well as the gluten-free category an increasing number of consumers look for. But it does have (1.) German-made stills, (2.) tamper-proof tin wrapping caps from Portugal, (3.) a brushed aluminum-topped Italian cork, (4.) a bottle made of French glass with painted labels, and (5.) branded, custom wooden shipping cases made of Western pine.
Those are a combination of positive conceits and marketing strategies. But, as always in this game, it's what's inside that in the final analysis trumps everything else.
Company founders Richard Stabile and Dan Pollicino have nothing to be concerned about. LiV gets your attention immediately with its slightly citrusy nose, its pleasing oiliness and its hints of grapefruit and rose petals. No need even to chill LiV as one tends to do to other vodkas to bring out its nuances. Properly crafted potato vodkas tend to stand on their own without a lot of temperature tweaking by the drinker.
I'd put LiV right into the top echelon of potato vodkas I've sampled in recent years -- Chopin from Poland, Cirrus from Virginia, 44˚North from Idaho.
Suggested retail price: $38 for the 750ml bottle.
[Note: This review originally was posted in August 2008 when LiV was available only in a very limited area. It is being re-posted because the distiller has just announced a distribution deal with Winebow Inc., the third largest distributor in New York State, to sell LiV not only in New York, but also in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.]
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