February 7, 2009

LiV Vodka

Bill Dowd photo

Long 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.]

Go back to Dowd On Drinks


Polish At Heart said...

Potato-based vodkas are, hands-down, the best of the lot. I'm glad to see Long Island still trying to cash in on its famous crop. Best of luck!

Thirsty Upstater said...

This is great news/ I ran out of my last bottle of Peconika a few months ago and wondered where to go for my Long Island vodka fix. Now if I can just find it locally ...

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? I was given a bottle of LIV by a friend who knows that I like good vodka. It was without a doubt the worst vodka I ever had. In fact, I had to pour most of the bottle down the drain because it was just plain undrinkable. The problem with LIV is that it reeks of potatoes in both taste and smell. Even the company's description says so: "Loads of astringent potato skin aroma works well with the supple texture and high acidity, creating an elegant bouquet. In the mouth, the flavor profile includes delicate toastiness and a nutty aspect. Satiny texture. Liquor."

Here's my gripe. Good vodka will not have any taste or smell. The word vodka comes from the word vada, which is Russian for water. As such, vodka is supposed to be odorless, tasteless, and colorless, just like water. Also, for those of you that don't know, traditionally vodka is made from wheat. The potatoes came in to play when there was a wheat famine or if people couldn't afford to buy the wheat. This doesn't mean that there' aren't good potato vodkas out there. A potato vodka called Titan Glacier, which is made in Idaho, is one of the best vodkas' in the world.

As long as the LIV people keep duping unsuspecting consumers in to thinking that vodka should smell and taste like potatoes, they will continue to sell a subpar vodka at a premium price. Hey, some people might like the potato taste of LIV and to each is own, but please don't call it vodka, because it's not. The only people that would choose to drink LIV are people that don't know anything about vodka or how a good vodka is supposed to taste.

To the previous poster, potato vodkas are not the best out there. The best vodkas in the world (as per the beverage tasting institute) are wheat, especially those made with good quality wheat, a superior distillation mechanism, and a good filter medium (like charcoal).

Jack Trainham said...

I tried the LIV vodka, it's absolutely the worst that I have ever TASTED! When I was a kid I siphoned gasoline out of a car tank, it's very similar.