Vodka is odor- and flavorless, and it’s made from potatoes. At least that’s what Smirnoff tried to make us believe when it was bought by Heublein in 1939. “White Whiskey” without smell or taste was a great marketing strategy for the time, but it didn’t do justice to the drink. I’m not a big vodka drinker myself—I prefer whiskey and other richer spirits—, and so for a long time I also believed that it is a sign of good Vodka if it doesn’t taste like anything. I now know the error of my ways.
As a few of you might know, I visited my partner’s family back in March. Her immediate family lives in Louisville, KY, right in the heart of Bourbon Country. Of course this was an opportunity too good to pass up, so we visited quite a few distilleries. Most of the tours were very enjoyable, and I got to drink a lot of different spirits of impeccable quality. One of the highlights, however, was our tour of the Jeptha Creed distillery.
Jeptha Creed is a newcomer to liquor; the distillery opened only a few months before our visit. There is a large amount of heritage intertwined with the new, however, and their signature Bloody Butcher corn has been grown by the family for over 150 years.
The distillery is small and familial-feeling, and the tour guide we had was nice and knowledgeable. Our little group of four was the only one he had to entertain at the time, so he made it feel both entertaining and enlightening.
Of course the best part was the tasting. I’m not sure whether it was because we were the only ones at the bar, but we got to try ten or so of their creations, leaving me pleasantly buzzed and a little bummed that I couldn’t bring any more bottles back home.
Get to the point already
Back to the vodka. Because the distillery is so young and needs to get its foot in the door, it currently mostly sell moonshine and vodka, with its bourbon being sold out a lot and, to my knowledge, only available in Kentucky. The guide started with a big bottle of their signature vodka, telling us that it might not taste like the vodka we know. Boy, was that an understatement. It was actually good! It had a rich, pleasant taste, a note of corn and a delightful texture that I don’t really know from clear spirits. I was floored.
Of course, all of their infusions—lemon, blueberry, and all that jazz— were great as well, though they usually are, especially with a good vodka base. But I had my mind set on that tall bottle of straight, clear, and humble liquor.
To cut a long story short, next time we visit family I’ll bring a bigger bag.