The process of making vodka is pretty much a standardized thing. You start with grains, potatoes, sugar or fruit. Whatever the base, it’s cooked, fermented and then distilled and bottled. (Yes, we are skipping a ton of steps and some additional ingredients like enzymes here. And yes, how everything is treated along the way makes a difference in the final result.) We tried three Georgia vodkas, two distilled from grains and one from sugar cane, to bring you our report. It’s tough work, but someone had to do it so you could stock your holiday bar.
Thirteenth Colony Southern Vodka
Americus is becoming quite a food hub. One of the small batch producers there is Thirteenth Colony Distilleries, producing rye whiskey, gin, bourbon and corn whiskey, as well as two varieties of vodka. We tried Southern Vodka, distilled from corn and other grains. You may not think of vodka as a sipping drink, like bourbon or an aged rye, but Southern Vodka is smooth enough to enjoy on its own. We thought it was great in a cocktail recipe from their website, Front Porch Punch, where it’s mixed with muscadine syrup (our favorite fall fruit), orange juice and cranberry juice. Absolutely perfect for a holiday party. The Thirteenth Colony in the name, of course, is reference to Georgia as the thirteenth colony in what was to become the United States.
$9.99 per 750-ml bottle. Available at Green’s Beverages, Total Wine & More and Tower Beer, Wine and Spirits and many other retailers throughout Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas. http://thirteenthcolony.com/
Top Hat Vodka from Hope Springs Distillery
Paul Allen and Betsey Dahlberg are making a wide range of spirits in Lilburn at Hope Springs Distillery, named for Hope Springs Farm, Betsey’s family farm in Stone Mountain. They make Garner Creek gin (soon to hit store shelves), Jetty Absinthe (the first absinthe produced in Georgia) and Top Hat Vodka, distilled from wheat. We love the label with its photo of top-hatted Lilburn Trigg Meyers (the town of Lilburn is named for him), and we really like the vodka itself. The whole project is a labor of love for the retired engineer and retired lawyer who turned a passion for brewing beer, wine and mead into an exciting business venture. The distillery is in downtown Lilburn and their tasting room is open Friday and Saturday afternoons.
$20 to $25 per 750-ml bottle. Available at Royal Package, Branded Barrel and Lilburn Bottle Shop in Lilburn and at Smoke Rise Bottle Shop in Stone Mountain. Or at the distillery, 4839 Railroad Avenue, Lilburn. http://www.hopespringsdistillery.com/
Vodka from Old Fourth Distillery
I still find it hard to believe there’s delicious vodka (and gin) (and a lemon-ginger liqueur called Lawn Dart) (and now bourbon) being made just inches from downtown Atlanta. A tour of Old Fourth Distillery’s original location on Edgewood Avenue nets you a taste of their products but also a glimpse into Atlanta’s distilling history with artifacts from the pre-Prohibition era distillery of Rufus M. Rose and his Old Georgia Corn Whiskey. Old Fourth’s vodka is distilled from sugar cane which gives it a sweeter profile and rich aroma. We love the bottle, too, with its pale blue glass and the image of the old Fulton Cotton Mill in Cabbagetown. The tasting room and cocktail bar is open for varying hours Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can even volunteer to help out with the bottling.
$28 per 750-ml bottle. Available at Ansley Wine Merchants, Buckhead’s Best Wine & Spirits, Capital City Package Store, DeKalb Bottle Store, Doraville Liquor Store, East Cobb Liquor, Green’s Discount Beverages, Roswell Beverage Depot, Toco Giant Package, Total Wine & More and Tower Beer & Wine. http://o4d.com/.
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