When Life Gives You Apples, Make Vodka
In a vodka-saturated market, it can be tough to stand out. However, that's exactly what Sauvage—a distillery and farm known for producing handcrafted, fruit-based wines—has endeavored to do with its newest product, Upstate Vodka. Produced in Oneonta, New York, this all-natural vodka is made from apples harvested in New York state, but isn't apple-flavored. At 90 proof, it also has a higher ABV than many other vodkas. Though vodka hasn't been my go-to spirit in some time, I was intrigued when I was asked to review Upstate by Suavage. I was also excited to find out whether it would taste like the flavored vodkas favored by those who enjoy shots, the more subtle ones that are easily sipped alone, or the stronger ones used in craft cocktails. With few primer notes (other than the fact that it recently won a gold medal at the Denver International Spirits Competition), I was totally left to my olfactory senses and my taste buds.
The Sniff:The initial whiff of Upstate Vodka presented a sweet aroma, like fresh Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. A longer inhale revealed notes of honeysuckle, fresh-cut grass and black pepper. There was eventually the expected scent of alcohol, but it was never overpowering. So, it was generally pleasant and made me really want a taste.
The Sip:I definitely tasted the essence of apples on the front end, but that flavor gives way to a creamy mouthfeel and more neutral flavor. The sweetness was light, and lacked the syrup-like thickness or intense, artificial taste found in many flavored vodkas. The typical vodka burn definitely hit the back of my tongue, but it didn't ruin the experience.
The Verdict on Upstate Vodka by Suavage:Upstate Vodka's complex flavor profile gives it a place among sipping vodkas—especially on the rocks. I can also see it tasting great in a vodka & soda. Though it doesn't lend itself to dirty martinis or savory cocktails, it could complement cocktails that feature cider, ginger, caramel or cinnamon. It would also work well in an upgrade to the apple martini, but only if you skip the green liqueur and add a homemade version made with freshly pressed apple juice. I'd recommend it to vodka adventurists, but I'm not so sure if it works for purists.
The Shoes N Booze Squad would love to know your thoughts. Would you try Upstate Vodka at your local bar? Would you like to see cocktail recipes featuring Upstate Vodka here? Let us know!
*We were compensated for this review.