After reaching out to a handful of craft distilleries to participate in our Back Country Libations article series, my eyes have been opened to the world of Craft Distilleries. I see many similarities between this movement in spirits to what we have seen in the craft brewery market. Booze is just about 15 years behind beer at this point. There are 364 "Craft Distilleries" in the American Distilling Institute's directory, as opposed to over 2,100 "Craft Breweries" according to the Brewers Associate 2012 Mid-Year Report. I am excited to see where this leads. It could get interesting.
My first foray into Craft Spirits and I got a gem. River Pilot Vodka from Mississippi River Distilling Company is simply one of the best vodkas I have ever had, and trust me that is not a short list. I would without hesitation pour this up against Belvedere or Grey Goose any day. I bet you are thinking I am crazy... Right? Let me explain.
|River Pilot Vodka on the Rocks |
(or giant Death Star ice ball as it may be)
From there we started mixing up various recipes, from grasshopper shots to martinis. As soon as you mix this with something, anything, it all but disappears. The easy drinking nature of this vodka is a blessing and a curse. One of my buddies said "Man, I really need to be careful with this stuff. Every time I make a drink I make it a little stronger, just so I can taste the vodka. Pretty soon that's all that'll be in there." This was accompanied by a hateful glare from his wife.
After we got about half way through the bottle I realized it was going to be gone, so I stashed it... Yeah, I'm that guy. Honestly, this was too good to waste on vodka cokes. I am truly glad I did too. I have shared this with a number of other family members and friends and everyone raves. This stuff is just begging to be infused with something, but for now I'm gonna go with ice.
One of the non-vodka reasons to love this vodka is the fact that the bottle has only had to travel a few hundred miles north from Iowa to get to me. Made from corn grown less than 3 miles from the distillery. Unless you made some gin in your bathtub, you don't get much more local than this in the booze world.
|US Retail outlets|
Click for interactive version
Getting your hands on a bottle of your own isn't hard. The map above shows retail outlets across the US, click it to find out more. If none of those little pins are by you, the internets to the rescue, it's available at In Fine Spirits for $29 plus shipping.
I was very impressed and I just hope the rest of my craft spirit adventures are in the same league as the River Pilot, they set the bar pretty high.