speaking, vodka and gin are mostly made from potatoes and
grains because they are inexpensive and abundant. But did
you know you could also produce vodka and gin from grapes?
Well, Alex and Monica Villicana of the Villlicana Winery in
Paso Robles, CA sure did and not only that, they did something
were driven by their desire to promote and encourage sustainability
by utilizing existing, unused resources to create a high-end,
local, artisan product. This concept of finding a new use
for wine and refining it into spirits is the basis for their
winemakers bleed a percentage of the free-run juice from red
wine grapes before fermentation to concentrate and enhance
the quality of their red wines, and this bleed, the saignée,
is often discarded (not good for the leach-fields). By fermenting
this bleed and then triple distilling it, Re:Find Distillery
has found a new use for the saignée. And, not only
are they using the saignée from Villicana Winery, Alex
and Monica are purchasing the saignée from other craft
wineries in Paso Robles as well. Since they sent us a pretty
package of five of their finest products (Vodka, Cucumber
flavored Vodka, Gin, Rye and Limoncello Liqueur) in smaller
sized 100ML bottles there's plenty of tasting to be had.
the Vodka started it all, of course, we should
start with the vodka. The nose is very vegetative (thanks
to the grapes) and unlike most any other vodka you might be
used to. It almost reminds me of a silver tequila on the rocks
except for the additional aromas of honey and hazelnuts. The
palate is also quite vegetative in overall tone with an underlying
sweetness reminiscent of a candy called Bit O' Honey, and
there is even a milky, oily mouth feel that makes this quite
the treat. The finish is of course vegetative, sweet and smooth
and lasts a short time. This is one flavorful vodka with a
lot going for it.
up is the Cucumber flavored Vodka. Now, don't
get me wrong, I like cucumbers, especially the way my mom
prepared them with a touch of vinegar, but it would never
have entered my brain to flavor vodka with cucumbers. I must
admit that the nose smells like freshly cut cucumbers and
that's really about the wonderful extent of it. I no longer
sense that vegetative aroma like I did in the straight up
vodka. The palate is chock full of cucumber backed by a bit
of sweetness and saltiness. The finish has a very laid back
cucumber flavor with the vodka taste actually coming in first
place and followed by that sense of sweetness and saltiness.
The finish is short and in the end, slightly peppery leaving
my mouth teased into thinking I had actually bitten into a
cucumber. I'll bet this would make a hell of a Bloody Mary,
have always professed that Gin is just Juniper
flavored vodka with a dozen or so other botanicals thrown
in to gin up the flavor profile, so I can't wait to see how
grape based gin is going to taste. Oh, by the way the good
folks at Re:Find have also seen fit to add coriander, orris
root, lemon and orange peel, grains of paradise and lavender
to their gin mix. The nose is not subtle, with the lavender,
citrus aromas and coriander up front and just the barest hint
of juniper in the background; however, all these aromas are
well balanced. The palate is the least "ginny" tasting
gin I have ever tasted. Don't get me wrong; there is a lot
of flavor here, and it's all very well blended, but I can
just barely discern the juniper and what I get right up front
is a mouthful of that vegetative flavor from the grapes followed
by a touch of sweetness. The finish is sweet and smooth and
citrusy and lasts a short time. This has to be the least "traditional"
flavored gin I do believe I have ever tasted, which rightfully
so, may just make it the most unique gin I have ever tasted.
It is quite good and flavorful in very unexpected ways.
wort for this RE:FIND Rye is sourced from
two craft breweries in San Luis Obispo county. The nose is
very reminiscent of a bourbon but lighter, sweeter and fruitier
with the rye aroma front and center. On the palate, this is
one sweet rye! I also get a bit of oak and vanilla and cherry.
The finish is medium in length and features the rye, oak and
just enough of a peppery spiciness to liven things up a bit.
This is definitely not like your grandfathers rye; it is smoother
and more flavorful.
Limoncello Liqueur is a subtle pale golden
color and that's where the subtleness stops. Holy Cow, the
nose is super sweet and yet has a touch of tartness to it
while screaming out lemon zest. On the palate, it is thick
and oily and lemon zesty and sugar sweet and just tart enough
to balance it all out. The finish brings up a bit of alcohol
heat to accompany the sweet-tart lemony flavors and lasts
forever. Two hours after drinking this Limoncello, I could
still taste it. This is definitely in your face sweetness
and goodness that won't take a backseat to anything else.
of these wonderful spirits are available in 750ML bottles
and all are 40% ABV or 80 proof except for the Rye which is
45% ABV or 90 proof.
vodka can be found for around $38.00 per bottle while the
Gin comes in at $44.00. The Rye
sells for $59.99 and the Cucumber flavored
vodka weighs in at $44.00. The Limoncello Liqueur
sells for around $26.00 per 375ML bottle and is also 40%ABV
or 80 proof.
By George Brozowski
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