George’s Rants and Raves: 1876 Vodka
Have you ever experienced an epiphany? No, that’s not some kind of Polish sausage; it’s a sudden and striking realization of deep religious, philosophical or scientific importance. I usually have my epiphanies right around the 5th shot of Vodka, but I just experienced an epiphany when I received this bottle of 1876 Vodka.
Gary and Kevin Kelleher, the good old Texas boys who brought us Dripping Springs Vodka, which they distill near Austin Texas, must have had their own epiphany when they decided to whip up this hooch. Their Dripping Springs Vodka is made with artesian water, which has seeped slowly through limestone formations and garnered a very interesting and tasty mineral rich profile along the way. Their new 1876 Vodka is distilled with purified water. Why even go there?
I believe that the epiphany the three of us probably share is that Vodka distillers the world over, rightly or wrongly, appear to be in search of the Holy Grail of Vodka. That’s right, the Holy Grail of Vodka. Let me explain. Vodka is traditionally defined as an un-aged, colorless distilled spirit with no aroma and no taste. I do believe that of the more than 100 vodkas I have tried lately none live up to that definition. Not even vodkas costing hundreds of dollars have managed to embrace that definition 100%. That is what I believe to be the Holy Grail of Vodka, a spirit with no color, no taste and no aroma. Maybe that’s why the Kelleher boys switched out their tasty limestone water for purified water, so they could don their armor, mount their sturdy steeds, strap on their broadswords and chase the Holy Grail of Vodka.
I’m not even sure I would want to find that Holy Grail as I do, in fact, believe that all those interesting little differences in taste are what I enjoy in the Vodkas I prefer. Vodka without a hint of its terroir, that unique sense of place that contributes to the flavor of the water and the crops, just may not be worthwhile consuming and possibly even boring. Besides, even if you start out with purified, distilled tasteless water you still have to ferment tasty stuff like corn or wheat or rice or potatoes or any number of other grains, rice, fruits or vegetables and then add yeast to get the whole thing bubbling and cranking out alcohol. All of those ingredients have unique and distinct flavors that I truly believe no type or amount of filtration can completely remove. I will allow that all those parts and pieces can be so masterfully mixed that almost all flavors and aromas are neutralized and the final experience can come close to tasting like the Holy Grail of Vodka but as we all know “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
If per chance you believe you have sipped of the Holy Grail of Vodka, let me know what it was so I can get my hands on it and share your religious experience and become one with you and the universe.
All that being said, let’s get to the task at hand and pop the top on the 1876 Vodka. The nose is soft with very little alcohol influencing the warm and tender aroma of fermented grains. There is really no distinct note to pick out but the blend is earthy and pleasant. I really prefer this over the nothingness of supposedly perfect vodka. On the palate, the earthiness lays dormant and warm upon my tongue but as soon as I swallow it awakens and produces a pleasurable peppery spice note that lasts a while in the mouth but does not extend down the throat.
On the rocks, the nose becomes even more neutral with absolutely no traces of alcohol at all. The fermented grains fade back into clean rain and wind swept farm fields. On the palate a veritable miracle happens. Laying gently upon my tongue, the spirit is completely neutral, warm, slightly oily and my best friend. The finish is warm and tender with none of the spice and pepper of the straight up tasting. Although it is not the Holy Grail of Vodka, it has transformed into what could pass as an affordable super premium Vodka depending upon its price. And that’s when the second epiphany of the day struck me.
This stuff is so new I couldn’t find a price on the Internet so I ended up contacting the mother ship in Austin and much to my surprise and delight I was informed this hooch was going to sell for $13.99 per 750ml bottle. I had to ask about that price several times because I just couldn’t believe my ears. Taste wise this hooch definitely qualifies as an affordable super premium and that being the case could sell for around $20.00 per 750ml bottle. As a matter of fact, it tastes like super premiums selling northward of $30.00 per bottle. WOW, two epiphanies for just $13.99, what a deal!
By George Brozowski
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