Vodka - Death's Door Vodka
Cedar Ridge Vineyards LLC.
Death's Door Vodka
Yahara Bay Distillers, Madison, WI
PROOF: 80 (40%)
AGE: Not applicable
TYPE: American organic grain (wheat)
PRICE: $29.99 750ML
Notes: This is one a the very few (read damn few) vodkas that is actually produced by a small distiller. Not bought in bulk (by the tank truck or railroad tank car) and relabeled like a lot of vodka these days or redistilled (rectified) then bottled by by someone trying to look like a small distiller. Produced entirely from organic certified hard red winter wheat from Washington Island, Wisconsin.
In an effort to produce a more eco-friendly sustainable product, Death's Door sources all their organic wheat from their home island. Unlike most vodka producers, they Death's Door has Cedar Vineyards start from scratch -process and mash the grain, ferment it, distill it in small batches using a Christian Carl hybrid pot and column still, and bottle it so that it ensures quality and consistency from the grain to the bottling. Most of the other vodkas (in Russia and America) buy bulk ethanol, tweak it, and add water. This is a much more labor intensive process.
Appearance: Wonderful clarity, perfectly clear. On swirling, it leaves a thin clear coat on the inside of the glass with scalloped edges with a few thin legs rapidly turning to lots of droplets. Nice bright appearance.
First Impression: Slightly sweet nose, nice grain and alcohol smell to it. No sharp alcohol vapors like some, well most, cheaper brands.
Taste: Very slightly oily grain body the kind of body that cheaper vodkas strive for by doping with sugar, glycerin, or vanilla as shortcuts and obfuscations. A touch sweet and quite smooth with the alcohol warming you nicely and tingling the tongue. Pleasant wheat/grain notes to it, almost a ghost of cereal taste with a little chocolate and toast to the flavor. A touch light in the body/water department in terms of style. I personally like more minerals in my water base but for those seeking a lighter bodied vodka this one is quite good. Nice medium-length finish.
Drinks: Very smooth alone at room temperature to appreciate the smoothness and body. But, like every other vodka, much better cold. Excellent martini- deadly smooth would recommend a twist rather than olive ( don't need to mask anything or dumb it down). Works very well in other drinks also adding a whisper of sweetness and grain but not distracting/detracting from the cocktail.
Final Thoughts: Some may find it a touch pricey but at least you are buying quality and integrity rather than marketing. More money than either Stoli or the Avian Fashion Victim Vodka, but with more honesty, sincerity (meaning they worked for it rather than used short cuts), and sense of place. You are buying organic , green, and sustainable rather than just contributing corporate greed .
Bottle: Tall cylindrical clear glass bottle with longish neck and gold neckwrap. Heavy decanter bottom gives nice balance. Simple but attractive paper label reminiscent of an old shipping chart/map. Synthetic cork with plastic disk top make it easy to open and leak proof. Somewhat distinctive and easy-to-spot, makes it easy to find on a store of bar shelf.
Fast loading, nicely done website. Good amount of information on it on both their products, restaurant, and Washington Island, Wisconsin.