Organic Spirits for Earth DayBy Stephanie Moreno
Then-Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson established Earth Day on April 22, 1970 as a National Day to focus on the environment. As a result, this spurred a new generation of environmental awareness eventually helping to bring about the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Notably, passages of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts soon followed. In 1990, Earth Day moved to the world stage, becoming a globally recognized day of awareness and action. Consequently, this helped lead the way for expansion of global recycling efforts and the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit.
Organic Spirits: Celebrating responsibly
But caring for our Big Blue Marble isn’t just a single-day event. And whether it’s planting trees, at-home composting, or picking up litter at your local park – there’s no shortage of ways for conscientious individuals and organizations to do their part. Of course this extends to your day-to-day purchasing decisions as well. Recycled paper towels, reduced-packaging foods and organic goods all help to alleviate the stress we place on the Earth. Naturally the same goes for organic spirits as well.
All of the ingredients that create our favorite spirits are agricultural products. From the grains in our whiskeys to the fruit in our brandies and the potatoes in our vodkas, they all hail from Mother Earth. Not to mention the acorns that grow up to be mighty oak trees and then become barrels to age our spirits. Truly another great reason to plant more trees!
Organic spirits in the United States are required to meet USDA guidelines, just like any other product that carries the organic badge. These spirits are produced using ingredients and processes designed to help preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials including pesticides and antibiotics. They also are governed by a set of rules which oversee farming practices such as the maintenance or improving of soil and water conditions.
For this Earth Day, we’ve put together just a few of our favorite organic spirits from every genre. We’ve only got one earth, let’s do our part to protect her. Happy Earth Day, everyone!
Benromach is a small distillery in the Speyside of Scotland and this special bottling was the first organic single malt to ever be released. Made from organic Scottish barley, the single malt is aged in virgin oak barrels. It is bottled without chill-filtration to retain the whisky’s natural flavor. The whisky is creamy and rich with malt, honey, and vanilla flavors.
No strangers to experimentation, Bruichladdich based on the Isle of Islay in Scotland has produced several organic whiskies. This vintage release is their latest, launched late 2017. It is made entirely from organic barley grown at Mid Coul Farm in the north of Scotland just east of Inverness.
TEQUILA & MEZCAL
The entire line of Del Maguey are certified organic, but this special bottling is made annually to celebrate the harvest. Fruit such as wild mountain apples, plums, plantains along with rice and almonds are placed in the still after the second distillation. Then during the third distillation, a chicken breast is placed so that the alcohol vapor can pass through creating this unique spirit.
As I learned from Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey, it is best to spill just a little on the ground as tribute and as a symbol of thankfulness to the earth. As you do and before you drink, be sure to say “Stigebeu” [stee-gee-BAY-oo], a Zapotec word meaning roughly “to honor the earth.”
The entire 1 2 3 (also known as Uno, Dos, Tres) tequila line is made with organically grown agave sourced from the Tequila Valley. Their añejo tequila, aged 18 months in white oak doesn’t overpower the sweet agave notes. Their bottles are made from recycled glass and printed with natural soy ink.
This Cognac was created using organic wines from the plots of clay-limestone soils on the Plateau de Saint-Simeux standing above the Charente Valley, in the Fins Bois cru. Additionally, there is no caramel coloring, additives, or sugar added to this bottling.
What can we say that hasn’t already been said about the St. George Spirits, a world-class distillery and credited, rightly so, with the American craft distillery movement. Their Pear Brandy is one of the many wonderful things they produce. It takes over 30 pounds of organic Bartlett pears to make one bottle. Serve with local honey and a washed rind cheese like Taleggio for a great cheese course.
Crusoe Rums are made at the Greenbar Collective in Downtown L.A. just west of the Los Angeles River. Their entire line of products are made from organically-grown produce. Devoted to sustainability they not only use lightweight bottles with 100% post-consumer waste labels to reduce packaging waste and pollution, but they also plant one tree for every bottle sold. Their products also happen to taste pretty, pretty, pretty good.
All of the Novo Fogo Cachaças are made from certified organic sugarcane. After being hand-harvested and crushed, the bagasse (leftover waste of the sugarcane) is used as either fertilizer or to fuel the fire which fuels the still. The bottles are also made from recycled glass and their labels are made from recycled plastic bottles. Aged in former Four Roses Bourbon barrels which allows this to be a great stepping stone for whiskey drinkers to enter the wonderful world of cachaças.
Released in 2010, Farmer’s Organic Gin is produced by Crop Harvest Earth Co, a distillery dedicated to producing spirits from organically grown crops. This gin begins with a base spirit made from organically and sustainably grown grain. While the entire botanical recipe is a company secret, it’s known that the lineup includes juniper, elderflower, lemon grass, coriander, and angelica root, all of which, along with other undisclosed botanicals, are organically grown.
This vodka is distilled from non-GMO organic corn sourced from farmers in Minnesota. After harvest, the corn is brought to a co-op farm where the corn is milled, mashed, and fermented. This fermented mash is then taken to the Prairie distillery where it is column-distilled. Prairie also produces an organic gin.
There are so many organic spirits to choose from!