I have come up with the ultimate recycling program. I’d be willing to bet you that almost anything, if it had a bit of sugar in it, could be distilled and produce some kind of alcoholic spirit. After all, it’s the sugar that the yeast converts into alcohol so if rubber tires or steel girders or even sneakers had some sugar in them you could throw them in the old vat with some yeast, produce some kind of mash and then distill it into who knows what kind of kick butt potion. Now isn’t that a recycling program everyone could get behind?

Just think about what those zany distillers already use; cactus, corn, wheat, rye, grapes, potatoes, strawberries, blackberries, pears, oranges, barley, practically anything they can get their hands on. In this particular case, Ao Vodka, Suntory of Japan has produced vodka made from rice. We normally associate rice with the making of Sake but hey, why not vodka! Ao is the Japanese word for blue and sometimes used to describe green as well. Rice paddies are blue and green and poetically referred to as Ao for their mingling of those colors.

And of course LeJay cassis is a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants but not just any old blackcurrants, these come from the commune of Dijon France and are hailed as some of the best on the planet. Not just any old used tire will do here.

Bottle Shot White

The Ao vodka comes in a clear bottle with white lettering and is beautifully simple yet elegant. It is pot still distilled on the island of Kyushu and then filtered through bamboo. I wonder if they could then make vodka out of the bamboo? Straight up this vodka smells similar to sake and also has an earthy aroma about it. This is not your more sterile over distilled and over filtered tasteless vodka, this definitely has something going on here, I do believe it’s called flavor or maybe even terroir. On the palate I perceive a grassy sweetness along with a white rice reminiscent flavor. This vodka has a fuller body presence than most other vodkas without being oily. It is smooth and pleasant on the tongue with no real tingle whatsoever. The finish is smooth and long leaving a lingering sweetness.

With Ao on the rocks the sweetness subsides a bit while almost a honey like presence appears next to the rice and terroir. The body of this vodka is still full and flavorful without a hint of alcohol. This just might be the way to consume this vodka as it has way too much going on and way too much natural flavor to be used in a mixed drink especially with what they charge for this stuff. A 750ML bottle will set you back around $45.00 to $55.00 making this one of the more expensive super-premium high end vodkas out there.

Across the globe from Japan we find France and all of her wonderful offerings. Among those offerings is a little jewel called LeJay crème de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur that is as different from vodka as you can possibly get. Its color is that of a fine old cabernet sauvignon though it is thicker than a cabernet. The nose is full of coffee, tapioca, currants, berries and buttered toast. The palate verifies most of those aromas while emphasizing the sweetness and accompanying tartness of the berries. It really tastes most like a syrupy fruit juice. The finish is sweet and fruity and quite smooth and lasts almost forever. This is not a standalone drink nor a sipper, even on the rocks, it’s just a bit too sweet for that. However, having said that it makes one hell of a mixer and brings all that fruitiness and sweetness to everything it touches.

Of course, having both Ao vodka and LeJay Cassis at my finger tips at the same time I would be derelict and negligent in my duties and at the very least a nincompoop if I didn’t at least try the two of them together, on the rocks, if even just for giggles. Well my, my, this combination makes one hell of a martini. The vodka dries out the flavor of the cassis just enough to let it balance with the flavors of the vodka. Here’s a drink I could come to know and love and if no one has named it yet I would offer that it be called the rant and rave cocktail because you will indeed rant and rave after you’ve had a few of these and I bet you can’t stop at just one.

LeJay Cassis comes in a 375ML bottle and can be found for around $18.99

By George Brozowski