I went to a New York State artisanal spirits tasting this afternoon. I know next to nothing about hard liquor, so I learned a lot about distillation. I still don’t understand the difference between the tails, and the head, and the heart, but at least now I understand why vodka gets distilled to 190 proof while eau de vie gets distilled to 140 (water is added to get them both down to 80-90 proof later).
The stand outs of the tasting, for me, were the apple vodka and apple jack from Harvest Spirits and plum eau de vie from Mazza Chautauqua. These are pretty tough to find, in general, but Harvest Spirits is at all the big NYC liquor stores (Astor, Sherry, etc.). It’s unique stuff — the vodka has a buttery taste up front and a definite but dry-and-light apple taste throughout.
Probably the most exciting part for me, though, was meeting the guy who writes Spirits Review, Chris Carlsson. I’ve been reading the site for months and was sold as soon as I read this review of Bluecoat Gin:
If I could I would replace my blood with this.
It’s a great site — as far as I can tell, it’s the best place to get honest information about hard liquor (I like F. Paul Pacult for bourbon, but not as much for other spirits).
It turns out Chris Carlsson lives right around the corner from me and I may try to bring him by here to answer all your liquor questions at some point.