|Bill Dowd photo|
New York's fledgling craft distilling movement is gaining momentum as well as expertise. At a recent seminar and tasting held in Saratoga Springs, I had the opportunity to try several flights of products.
• LiV Vodka: This spirit, utilizing the region’s signature potatoes, gets your attention immediately with its slightly citrusy nose, its pleasing oiliness and its hints of grapefruit and rose petals. I’d put LiV right into the top echelon of potato vodkas I’ve sampled in recent years. From Long Island Spirits.
• Harvest Spirits Core Vodka: This apple-based clear spirit is true to its origin with a vaguely apple note and a hint of spice. Smooth, warm and clean finishing. From Golden Harvest Farms in Columbia County.
• Hidden Marsh BEE Vodka: A honey-based spirit with a bit of a sting. Not that acrid sharpness lower-priced vodkas have, but a pleasant note on the tongue, and a warm, smooth finish. From the Montezuma Winery in Seneca Falls.
• Mazza Chautauqua Plum Eau de Vie: This is a delicate spirit, with floral notes and touches of cardamom and orange. An excellent product. From Mazza Chautauqua Cellars in Chautauqua County.
• Seneca Drums Gin: This is an extremely distinctive gin, with botanicals that provide the imbiber with clover, menthol and spice, all things that will hold up to a dry vermouth or a fruit juice when mixed into a cocktail. From Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett.
• Tuthilltown Spirits New York Corn Whiskey: A delightfully robust and smooth product, not at all the “moonshine” its name might connote. Powerful alcohol notes, typical of the genre. From Tuthilltown Spirits in Orange County.
• Tuthilltown Spirits Manhattan Rye Whiskey: Spicy, floral, a great nose. At once robust and clean on the palate. An excellent addition to the category.
• McKenzie Rye Whiskey: A pronounced caramel and clove yin-and-yang that makes this rich spirit distinctive. From Finger Lakes Distilling.
• Harvest Spirits Cornelius Applejack: A nicely old-fashioned style to this recipe, which results in touches of apple, cloves, caramel and violet.
• Hidden Marsh Queen’s Flight Honey Brandy: A multi-level taste profile, with eucalyptus on top and warm honey notes below. An underlying smoothness to the overall taste.
• Warwick Valley Bourbon Barrel Apple Liqueur: This is a hard cider with aged apple brandy added, finished in once-used bourbon barrels. There is a buttery feel to it, with pronounced flavor of Jonagold apples. A gentle, refined spirit.
• Mazza Chautauqua Grappa of Steuben: Steuben and vidal are the two most-used grappa base ingredients among New York distillers. This version is clean, slightly floral and has a honeyed finish.
• Long Island Spirits Sorbetta Lemon: Immediately reminiscent of French pastille candies in the aroma. A lovely lemon yellow color, fruit forward but with a distinct touch of butterscotch in the finish.
• Long Island Spirits Sorbetta Orange: Orange cake frosting comes immediately to mind. A touch cloying in the middle notes, but the citrus then comes to the rescue and the finish is clean and refreshing.
• Warwick Valley Sour Cherry Cordial: This is the way I like cherry pie to taste — a hint of cinnamon and cloves, a touch of the tartness of the New York Montmorency cherries, made with a brandy of cherries, grapes and apples. Superb.
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