The world of craft vodka is defined by experimentation. Moving from the former image of a flavorless spirit, unique expressions are slowly changing the world’s perception of the drink.
Premium ingredients and craft distillers are leading the way. Naturally-infused expressions are rising alongside the craft, adding an extra element of color and complexity to premium vodka. Bottlings infused with fruit, vegetables and coffee have entered the industry and are turning more than a few heads.
Many infusions often use artificial sweeteners and flavorings. However, here we focus on the passionate minds attempting to create infusions using only natural methods and ingredients. What’s more, we’ll teach you how to do it yourself.
Bringing a whole new meaning to the word spicy, the world’s hottest chilli vodka comes in at 500,000 on the Scoville scale. Scoville is the official scale used to measure the world’s hottest peppers. This release is the third in the series, after the 100,000 and 250,000 bottles.
Launched by the Hot Enough Vodka Company, Naga Chilli vodka even comes with a health warning. Around 18 kilos of Naga Jolokia chilis, one of the hottest in the world, are put in vodka-filled containers and left for several weeks. The chili flavor slowly seeps into the spirit.
This isn’t for the faint of heart. The distillery team has to wear protective gloves and masks while bottling the fiery spirit.
This expression, by the Hanson of Sonoma Distillery, brings the world of vodka and coffee together, while completely redefining the Espresso Martini. The distillery takes an organic approach to its vodka infusions, hand-peeling and cleaning every ingredient, before macerating it in their very own organic vodka.
Here, they dip premium, organic coffee beans into the vodka and leave it to “marinate”. As a result, the beans impart intense, roasty flavours in the final product. Notes of dark chocolate, campfire wood and cherries come through subtly, overwhelmed by the powerful notes of espresso.
The distillery recommends the White Russian and Espresso Martini cocktails, to experience the vodka at its best.
Based in Idaho, the 44 North distillery is all about keeping things natural and local. Their vodka is produced using 100% Burbank and Russet potatoes from Idaho and Rocky Mountain water. Their naturally infused vodkas also utilize local ingredients, including nectarines, cherries, and in this case, Idaho Mountain huckleberries.
The berries, which are naturally steeped in the company’s gluten-free vodka, imparts a unique freshness on the palate. The sweetness from the huckleberries also comes through, while the sharpness of the vodka creates a stellar balance.
Vodka Infusions At Home
Infusing vodka with fruit or other ingredients is as simple as it sounds. Whether you’re looking to add an extra layer to your favorite vodka or make a cheap one taste better, infusing is the way to go. The process is fun, exciting and creative.
Let’s start with the ingredients destined for infusion. A rule of thumb is to add 1 cup of fruit, or other ingredients, to 1 cup of vodka. Two cups to two cups, and so on and so forth. Once you’ve experimented a little you’ll know whether you want more or less flavor imparted to the spirit. Then, you need only adjust the ratio.
Nectarine Infused Vodka / Photo Credit: Mike McCune
For fruits and vegetables, make sure you wash them thoroughly and make sure to remove seeds and stems. You only want the juicy chunks of fleshy fruit. The peels will add more depth and color, so leave them on. You can leave coffee beans as well as spices and herbs whole.
Add all the ingredients to a sealable container. Glass jars and bottles work best. Now pour the vodka over the ingredients, and make sure it covers the fruit completely. The alcohol will prevent any funky bacteria from growing in the concoction.
That’s all there is to it! Let the jar sit for 3 days, and taste it. If you need a fruitier vodka, leave it for a few more days. Some let the infusion go on for weeks.
Separate the fruit and the vodka using a strainer, and removed all the small seeds and skins that remain. Finally, add your newly infused vodka to glass bottles.
The infused vodka will last for years. Try it straight or in your favorite cocktails to discover the new flavor and depth derived from the infusion.