There is no organic matter that cannot be used to make vodka. Thus, what Harry Gorman, the distiller for Duncan's Spirits of St. Johnsbury, VT, is producing makes great use of that fact and the fact that its home area has some very distinctive products.
• Vermont White and Vermont Gold
The White vodka is delivered with a distinctive white cow embossed on the rear panel of the tall, elegant, four-sided bottles imported from France. It's a small-batch 80-proof vodka, triple distilled from pure milk sugar, combined with local spring water, then run lightly through charcoal filters.
There is a vague citrus note to the opening nose, and a clean, crisp finish on the tongue and throat. Despite its base, it is lactose free.
The Gold, with a gold leaf on the reverse side, is distilled from 100% maple sap, an iconic Vermont ingredient, bottled at 80 proof.
The company rather grandly refers to it as "the single malt of vodka." Considering the differences in time and attention between vodka and singly malt whiskey, that's a bit much. However, using maple sugar differs from the use of grains -- from which 90% of vodka is made -- in that cooking the grain mash is what releases the sugar from the starches. Since maple syrup is sugar already released from starch, it could be argued that it already has undergone a superb natural release.
The Gold is a very smooth, warm and clean spirit, especially nice when stored in the freezer then sipped neat from chilled small glasses.
The company also produces a Limited Release Vodka, made from the first run of maple sap which is prized among maple syrup producers as well.
Suggested retail price: $45 for the 375ml bottle.
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