Unconventional Vodka IngredientsBy Stephanie Moreno
These days it’s normal to see vodka flavored with unusual ingredients such as coffee, whipped cream, and even hemp. Even so, most vodkas — even the bizarrely-flavored ones — begin their journeys as a neutral spirit made either from grains like rye , wheat and corn or potatoes. However, as we’ve covered previously, vodka can be made from any agricultural product. As a result, more and more brands are using unconventional vodka ingredients in their products to make their bottles stand out from the rest. This is exciting news for those of us who enjoy exploring the vodka category. Here are a few worth seeking out.
Located in the English county of Dorset, Black Cow Vodka is the creation of dairy farmer Jason Barber and artist Paul Archard. Milk from Barber’s grass-grazing dairy cows which roam the fields surrounding the distillery is used in its production. More specifically, it is the whey from the cow’s milk to which yeast is added for fermentation. Meanwhile, the remaining curds are used to create cheddar cheese.
Broken Shed Vodka is also made using a distillate base of whey. It is triple-distilled and uses water from both the South and North islands of New Zealand. It is certified gluten-free, non-GMO, and has no additives, sugars or sweeteners added.
Haku Vodka is produced by Suntory, makers of beloved Japanese whiskies such as Yamazaki and Hibiki among others. The unconventional vodka ingredient used here is 100% Japanese white rice which is milled and polished. Then the rice is fermented with koji rice to create a mash that is then distilled. The vodka is blended then filtered through bamboo charcoal. The curved lines on the bottle are meant to represent the streams glistening through nature in Japan as they run through the four seasons.
This vodka is distilled from fair-trade organic quinoa sourced from the Andean Mountains. The quinoa is shipped to Cognac, France where it is distilled by Master Distiller Philip Lacile. In addition to vodka, FAIR makes gin, rum and several liqueurs. Under the brand’s fair trade policies, farmers in developing regions around the world receive a fair profit for the crops they grow.
Sugarcane and Honey
This vodka is produced from 100% organically-grown sugarcane and mineral rich ocean water sourced 3,000 feet deep, off the Kona Coast in Hawaii. It’s distilled using a continuous column process on the island of Maui.
As the name implies, this is a vodka crafted from local Florida sugarcane in St. Augustine. The distillery is community owned and operated and calls Florida’s oldest ice factory its home. Unlike larger vodka manufacturers, the distilling cuts are made by hand and not by computer formulation.
Caledonia Spirits uses the unconventional vodka ingredient of raw honey in the production of Barr Hill Vodka. In addition, the brand also makes a couple of gins including a Tom Cat Reserve Gin which is aged in American oak barrels for 4-6 months. Caledonia Spirits was founded by Todd Hardie, a former farmer and beekeeper who started the distillery in 2008 as a way to support the local agricultural community. The distillery is now under the leadership of owner and head distiller Ryan Christiansen, who purchased the company in 2015.
Created by Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, Cîroc Vodka is made from 100% French grapes, primarily ugni blanc. It was first launched in the US in 2003. Today there are a variety of flavors to choose from including the most recent limited edition release of Cîroc Summer Citrus.
Clear Creek Vodka is made using 100% apples from the Pacific Northwest. In fact, fourteen non-GMO varietals grown in Hood River and Yakima Valley are used in its production. The vodka was cut to proof with glacier-fed water from Mt. Hood. It was first released in Oregon in June 2019, and has since been made available in other US markets.
Good Liquorworks, founded by former NYC bartender Tristan Willey and Mark Byrne, launched this vodka in the fall of 2020. The unconventional vodka ingredient used here is discarded coffee fruit. Distilled at Finger Lakes Distilling in upstate New York, each bottle lists where and when the coffee fruit was harvested. Good Vodka is a sustainable spirit with each bottle saving almost 16 kg of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, or the equivalent of a gas-powered car driving 40 miles.
Other Unconventional Vodka Ingredients
Crystal Head Onyx is the third permanent addition to the brand’s lineup. It’s made using the unconventional vodka ingredient of Blue Weber agave sourced from a single farm in Mexico. Like the other marques in the portfolio, Onyx is filtered through layers of quartz crystals known as Herkimer diamonds and the water used in its production is glacial water from Newfoundland where the vodka is distilled. It is bottled in the brand’s signature skull bottle design, but this time it’s got a glossy black color.
This vodka is the world’s first and only spirit to be fermented and distilled exclusively from Dutch tulip bulbs. On average, about 350 tulip bulbs are needed to produce one bottle of PURE, which is made in small batches by Clusius Craft Distillers in The Netherlands. The brand also makes a more affordable version using just 40 tulip bulbs per bottle and blending it with a grain-based vodka.
BLK EYE Vodka is made with non-GMO black-eyed peas and corn. These products are 100% sourced from Texas and the vodka is distilled in Fort Worth, Texas at Black Eyed Distilling Co. It is charcoal filtered and bottled at 40% ABV.
Ready to try some unconventional vodka bottles?
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