Despite the Four’Easter, spring IS coming to the North Fork. You can tell because Briermere is open and selling pies! Meanwhile, it was still cold enough that whisky sounded like a good idea, so we headed to Long Island Spirits, the home of vodka, gin, and various whiskies on the North Fork. The first tasting room that you come to on Sound Avenue heading from west to east, it is a large structure with a gravel parking lot.
You climb steep stairs to the tasting room. The stairs might be seen as a warning not to drink too much, though in the summer they open an additional bar downstairs, and have music and food trucks. Upstairs you will find a large airy barn-like room with a bar along one side and a small outside balcony. The have a small selection of snacks on sale, like jerky and Backyard Brine pickles, some fancy tonic and mixers, and some t-shirts.
On offer are several menus. There’s a vodka and gin and sorbetta menu, three tastes for $11, and you keep the commemorative glass. Then on the back of that there’s a whisky, rye, and bourbon menu, three tastes for $16, and again you get to keep the glass. Finally, there’s a two-sided menu of cocktails, whisky or vodka based. Sorbettas are vodka-based liqueurs, like a Limoncello, but here in many flavors, from lemon to strawberry. We’ve had—and bought—them in the past, so this time we skipped them, but I will say in general they are quite good, with real fruit flavor, only slightly sweet, and make nice after-dinner drinks.
- LiV Potato Vodka $36/liter
This is their original product, a great use of the famous Long Island potato. It’s a good, smooth vodka, with a bit of a citrusy and baked pear taste, not quite as neutral as some vodkas. It’s also gluten free, for those who need to know this.
- LiV Standard Edition Vodka $36/Liter
I tend to think of vodka as a rather tasteless drink, but I am willing to be educated, and today I was. So I learned that corn-based vodka really tastes different from potato-based vodka. It may be the power of suggestion, but I felt I could taste corn, and a slight touch of sweetness in comparison to the other one.
- Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $35/750 ml.
You can make gin at home. Just take vodka and add whatever herbs and spices you like. We’ve done it! This gin starts with a potato base and adds twenty-eight “local and exotic botanicals,” from almonds to elderflower to merlot leaf to watermelon. We liked it. It is spicy, with some nutmeg-like taste along with other complex flavors, and would make an interesting martini. It might be fun to combine it with a Channing Daughters vermouth.
- Pine Barrens American Single Malt Whisky $80/750 ml.
Another easy-to-drink beverage, this is a smooth and unchallenging non-peaty whisky. I smell oranges and vanilla, and the taste is slightly sweet. I like the peaty single-malt Scotch whiskies, so this was good but not one I would buy.
- Rough Rider “Bull Moose” Three Barrel Rye Whisky $60.50/750 ml.
Three barrels? According to the menu, they age this in a combination of new American oak, X-bourbon, and X-pine barrels. It smells like a sawmill, like fresh-cut pine. Smooth and easy to sip, this has some tastes of ginger and spice, but my tasting buddy found it “bland and monochromatic.
- Rough Rider Straight Bourbon Whisky $45/750 ml.
Made from 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley and aged two years in new American oak and wine casks, it tastes like a traditional bourbon. It is a touch sweet, with some orange flavor. We liked it.
Reasons to visit: the chance to taste some locally made hard liquors and liqueurs; cocktails if you prefer that; something different instead of wines. We bought the Deepwells gin.