Friday, June 29, 2012

Core Vodka by Harvest Spirits (Golden Harvest Farms, Valatie)

It should be explained that I don't generally review spirits. I pretty much drink good beer (in addition to the beloved piss beers of Upstate New York), and vodka. I am dubious when it comes to cocktails. Something about grown men messing about with fruit juices and soda seems silly to me -- Don Draper's Old Fashioneds be damned. I am a fan of a good cup of Scotch whiskey but that is a special treat. I don't stock a bar. A six pack in the fridge and a bottle of good vodka in the freezer is generally the manner in which I roll. This all to say that I am no expert, and don't claim to be.

I was at Upstate Wine and Spirits (Hannaford Plaza on Delaware Ave., Delmar) the other day to replenish my ice box vodka stash. Upstate Wine and Spirits is a fine little liquor store right there. They have a good selection and stock all sorts of random items that make for a fun browse. Also, the place makes a sort of a point of stocking local products. You can get Tuthilltown Spirits, as well as Harvest Spirits which we are discussing here. As an aside, I am happy that Tuthilltown seems to be going strong as I used to drive by a young gent holding a sign advertising tours of the place at the intersection of Albany Post and 44/55 down Gardiner way. He always made me smile.

I spied the bottle of Core Vodka and it immediately grabbed my interest. What is more representative of Upstate New York than apples? We are Appleknockers, icy cider runs in our veins. This vodka is is distilled from hard cider made from apples grown at Golden Harvest Farms down in Valatie. I decided to purchase a bottle blind, i.e., I didn't read any reviews or anything.

I am a sucker for packaging so I inspected the whole package thoroughly. I thought the the bring the bottle back to the distillery for a free shot glass thing was a delightful way to inspire people to make a trip to the farm

Above are some accolades.

As I stated before, I do not really drink mixed cocktails at home. I take my vodka neat and out of little glasses. I found these little Italian wine glass jobbers that do the job nicely. I take a couple fingers at a time, За женщин! (Mrs. Dave only). 

OK, let us see here. Again, I probably should have read the description on the producers website that states, "Distilled three times from hard cider and minimally filtered to retain its true apple character." When I opened the bottle and sniffed I got the scent of apples. Throwing back the spirit I also got the taste of apples. I have to be careful with my terminology here (thank you Mr. Fussy). This is a "vodka made from apples" not an "apple flavored vodka" (implying flavor extracts) or even an "apple vodka." However, Core Vodka is a "vodka made from apples" that most definitely tastes of apples. There is a sweetness and a pronounced cider-y flavor (Mr. Fussy thinks that some of this may be due to the use of Champagne yeasts). 

I don't know why but I expected the barest essence of apple. I was surprised by the amount of apple flavor. None of this is a criticism because I think that an Upstate New York distillery making a vodka redolent of delicious apple flavor is the bees knees. I can see home cocktail-smiths and good bar keeps formulating all sorts of wonderful libations from this stuff. That said, I don't think it is a vodka that is purpose built to be swilled in the manner that I take my vodka. 

As I am weird and like to repurpose things, I have some idears for the rest of this bottle. I am growing a couple nice cabbages and I think this would be an excellent addition to some finished kraut. I also think it would bring a pleasantly sweet note to a vegetable pickle. 


  1. Interesting! I like using NY wines, and when I started reading this post, I thought I may have found a NY vodka for my purposes.

    I also stock a bottle of vodka in the freezer, although mine is used more for penne a la vodka than for drinking. :)

    I'm thinking appley vodka may not lend itself to penne very well...

  2. Sorry to see you return to blogging. Have you learned to spell "extraordinaire"?

    1. Zinger. I forgot what I did to make you butthurt? Remind me. It must have been something because I can smell a hurt butt.

  3. So I recently returned from a recon trip to Harvest Spirits and I sampled the Core Vodka alongside their Apple Brandy. As it turns out the vodka has more true apple flavor.

    What's shocking is that the pear brandy is so redolent of pears it's uncanny. And their new Peach Jack tastes like the essence of fresh peaches.

    The only thing I caution you Mr. Dave is the idea of the vodka being sweet. People often mistake a fruity taste for sweetness. I'm not even sure it's possible for a bit of residual sugar to exist in the Core Vodka after it's been distilled three times.

    So glad you enjoy it. Now you need to drain the bottle and get yourself to the distillery to pick up another.

    1. Yeah, I am familiar with brewing/distilling and I understand the science. In fact, I am currently mashing some sweet corn for some "corn wine" as I type this. It is one of my experiments and I am pretty sure it is going to end very, very badly.

      I just had another swig to verify. I think that the sweet taste of fruit is so hardwired into the brain that this stuff triggers a sweet sensation. My mouth tastes "sweet" after a swig, feels like I just had cider.

  4. I like the Core Vodka but not nearly as much as the Applejack. That's my winter tipple.

    I need to get back there and try the Peach Jack. Sounds like summer fun.


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