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Every once in a while, mostly on the weekends, I like a little alcohol in the morning to pop my eyes open and provide me with a bracing start to the day. Sometimes, I’ll leave a sip or two of cognac from the night before out on the counter in the snifter and savor it with my morning cup of Joe. Or maybe, I’ll turn to an Irish Coffee to defibrillate my heart or simply just add a little something to my coffee to make it more interesting. Well, thanks to the all the creative distillers out there my a.m. choices are pretty far ranging and that also goes for my boozy dessert options in the evening.

Among those outstanding distillers are the good folks up at Bendistillery in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and their Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso. They infuse fresh brewed espresso and hazelnuts into their Crater Lake Vodka before adding brown sugar. With only those kinds of quality ingredients and no junk ingredients, this should turn out to be a real sweet treat.

Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso vodka comes in a frosted bottle that reveals the dark brown liquid within. The label has an old fashioned feeling with the words “handcrafted” describing the contents. So let’s open up this puppy and see if it’s all it claims to be. The nose is chock full of sweet caramel, coffee and hazelnuts and is rich and creamy. The palate confirms the nose. It is definitely rich, thick and oily on the tongue with the flavors of coffee, the hazelnut and the sweetness of the brown sugar shining through. It is sweet but not so sweet as to be cloying. The finish is a delightful combination of the coffee coming through first and staying last with the hazelnut, caramel and sugar flavors sandwiched in between. The finish lasts a good amount of time and lets you enjoy those flavors for quite a while.

I have now tried this flavorful vodka straight up, on the rocks, in coffee (YUM) and poured over vanilla ice cream (YUM YUM) and am even thinking about using it on pancakes instead of maple syrup. I do believe its uses are only limited by your imagination; it’s just that yummy. This vodka has definitely found a home in my bar.

Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka is available for around $25.00 per 750ML bottle and it is 50 proof or 25% ABV.

By George Brozowski