It’s always something and then there’s more. Several weeks ago I was informed that I would be receiving a bottle of Crav Vodka to review, and I looked forward to that delivery. Several days after that notice I was then informed that the vodka could not be shipped intra-state within Ohio from Cleveland to Cincinnati. HUH? Being the curious type I started to look up state and federal regulations on shipping hooch, what a mess!

When I lived in San Francisco I got involved with a company that ships wine all across the United States and learned firsthand what a jumble of vague and downright crazy laws there were. First off, virtually every state has their own set of rules for inter-state and intra-state shipping of alcohol and those vary depending on whether the shipment is beer or wine or distilled spirits. To complicate that further, the federal government has its own rules and regulations. It’s enough to give a person a major migraine and send them screaming to the nearest liquor store to avoid all of this hassle in the first place.

The poor PR lady couldn’t figure out how to get me a bottle or even where I might go to get one since it was a relatively new product with limited distribution. She finally found someone who carries it but it involved an hour and a half car ride, a ferry boat crossing and a commuter train trip with me buying the bottle and then being reimbursed for my trouble, which was beginning to smell overly complicated. They finally managed to hand carry a bottle over from the liquor store through an employee who happened to be coming out my way, anyway. Sheesh, I get stuff delivered to my door all the time. Some of it states its alcohol and requires I sign for it and some comes in unmarked packages and gets left at my doorstep. From everything I have researched, both methods are acceptable since the booze isn’t for resale. It is a manufacturer’s sample and no money exchanges hands in either direction; therefore, taxes don’t apply. I can only assume that this poor woman dove into the quagmire of regulations and began to drown in them and panicked and didn’t want to end up in jail or send me to jail, which by the way I really do appreciate.

I suspect the government agency behind all this chaos is called the ATF, but I can’t prove it. ATF stands for Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco. You have got to be kidding me. Why in the world would anyone put those three together, except to possibly party over the weekend. While they were at it, they should have included Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll to create an agency called D.R.A.F.T.S. (Drugs, Rock and Roll, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Sex). Now, there you have the makings of one hell of a weekend.

At any rate, I finally got it, so here goes. This vodka all started with the passion of the Rini (kinda sounds like a Mel Gibson movie to me). One day Thomas Rini has an epiphany and realizes that his life lacks passion but is full of spreadsheets and graphs, so he wanders out into the vast and arid deserts just on the outskirts of Cleveland. After several days without food or water or sleep, he grasps the reality that he was put on this earth to follow his passion and his passion was Vodka. But not just any old vodka – it had to be super premium vodka, and it had to be his vodka. Originally, he was going to call his vodka, Passion Vodka but he soon realized that he really craved this vodka, and since spelling wasn’t his strong suit, he ended up calling it Crav Vodka.

Actually, Rini got it right and even though his vodka is the new kid on the block, he’s already won the prestigious gold medal from the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco.  He hooked up with Distilled Resources in Sun Valley, Idaho and using Idaho winter wheat and ultra pure water from the Snake River Aquifer, he began producing his hooch through fractional distillation in a four-column still and the results are in.

The nose is earthy and faintly reminiscent of a wheat field bathed in morning dew. There is just the tiniest bit of ethanol upfront but that dissipates as rapidly as a fleeting ghost at the break of dawn. The mouth feel is full bodied yet totally neutral. It has a taste profile that reminds me of soft white bread with a hint of yeast. The finish is smooth with a short but sweet spice note that disappears just as quickly as it appeared. This is a very nice, high quality super premium vodka and at around $33.00 per bottle, it has a super premium price, but it’s worth it.

By George Brozowski

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