The Village Voice Holiday Spirits Event on December 5th was a huge success. Studio Square in Astoria, NY was the venue and the open space floor plan was perfect for the tasting. We have always enjoyed events by Village Voice as they are no frills yet exciting and packed with endless tastings. The Holiday Spirits event was a showcase of New York distilleries. We tried as many spirits as possibly, but with 47 booths we were unable to hit them all. We were surprisingly unable to locate much food which really sucked (Friday morning was rough).
There were many bourbon tastings by very young distilleries (under 5 years) and much of their whiskeys were over 5 years old and thus were blending pre-made whiskey. We know whiskey blending is nothing new, and a distillery may do this to increase yield, but they can completely transform a whiskey distilled by someone else by aging it, spicing it or flavoring it. However, there were also old and young distilleries and wineries producing their own ingredients and making their own spirits (Distilled in-house and estate wines).
While there were many whiskey distillers, we were surprised by the non-whiskey spirits as their flavors were inventive to the point we would rather sip them then mix. Most of the gins were fragrant and floral, but a few were flavored with vanilla and savory flavors. The vermouths we tasted were brandy-like and perfect on their own, but would make a killer cocktail.
Atsby - Delicious vermouth with a wine body and brandy taste.
Breuckelen Distilling – 77 Whiskey from local rye or local wheat and distilled on site.
Widow Jane Distillery – Widow Jane Bourbon Whiskey is 7 years old but tastes of a quarter century in age with a smooth caramel character. They have a limestone mine in New York they’re sourcing their water.
Cooperstown Distillery – Fenimore Gin was unlike any gin in the game. The Beanball bourbon was smooth with a heavy kick to finish.
Dutch’s Spirits – Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine reminded us of rum and vodka with a smooth flavorful bite.
Van Brunt Stillhouse – Moonshine Bees Knees was a great bottled cocktail. They make pretty good grappa which is different than most distilleries (Usually wineries).
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates – The Eroica Riesling was buttery and smooth with ripe sweet fruit flavors.
Scorpion Mezcal – Hot Smokin’ Chocolat cocktail used their Mezcal Reposado which tasted better than adding bourbon or rum to hot chocolate (Seriously!).
Tuthilltown Spirits – They make many spirits from bourbon to vodka, but their Half Moon Orchard Gin was like drinking ripe apples.