Heritage Distilling is one of my favorite distilleries, doing some exciting things with vodka and justifiably winning all kinds of awards. I’ve sampled three of their vodkas so far: a ginger vodka that made a fantastic double-strength Moscow Mule, a hibiscus vodka that made a mouth-watering cranberry-hibiscus cocktail, and the superb Elk Rider Corn Vodka, ideal for sipping.
Now here’s another triumph from the guys from Gig Harbor in Washington: Char Barrel Finished Vodka. They make it by taking their Triple Distilled Vodka – which I suppose I should have sampled first but I just couldn’t wait to try the char barrel – which they then mature for a while in a used bourbon barrel. The skill, of course, is in deciding just how long to let it mature to create the perfect flavor.
In the bottle it looks so intriguing, which is why I wanted to sample it. The color is something like a light ginger ale, on the way to being a pale whiskey. Unscrew the top and sniff and you’ve really got the smoky whiskey/bourbon scent, though I also detected a sherry-like sweetness too, no doubt from some of the sugars that the bourbon barrel will have soaked up.
I was falling for this one without even tasting it. That’s the thing with good food and drink, you feel you could enjoy the aromas just as much as the look and the taste, and the aromas whet your appetite for the tasting.
Sipping this Char Barrel Finished Vodka, the smokiness is still there, and a little less of the sweetness, but overall it’s remarkable how close this comes to sipping a delicate Scottish whiskey – not the strongly peaty Islay whiskies, but more like a drop of lowland Scotch, perhaps one that had been mixed with a splash of water. You don’t need to add water to this char barrel vodka, it’s perfect as it is, and at 40% ABV it has all the strength that you need.
For me the flavor is so lovely I think I’d prefer to sip this straight, though if I got a second bottle I think I could spare some for a cocktail. The One Martini website has come up with an intriguing suggestion, that you can check out here:
I’m not the only one to appreciate this vodka, is since it was released it’s won several awards:
Bronze Medal from Tasting Beverage Tasting Institute in Chicago 2013.
Bronze Medal from San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2014.
Bronze Medal from American Distilling Institute 2014.
The RRP of this Char Barrel Finished Vodka is $27.50, which is very reasonable for a quality sipping vodka like this. You can find out more on the Heritage Distilling website.