Long Island Spirits: Not the Halloween Kind October 9, 2019

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On this rain-soaked, chilly day, a drink of whisky sounded perfect.

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There are pumpkins piled high at every farm stand or spread out in the fields, and it seems as though “pumpkin spice” is in everything except wine. There’s even a Pumpkin Pie Sorbetta liqueur at Long Island Spirits, but we are rebelling against all things pumpkin, so we did not try it on our recent visit to their tasting room. It was a chilly rainy day, and we and our guests agreed that it was perfect weather for whisky (or whiskey). So we dodged the raindrops and climbed the stairs to the airy space that includes a bar along one side and an assortment of tables and stools or chairs, plus doors leading to an outdoor deck where, one visitor noted, it would be nice to sit on a sunny day.

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That deck would be nice to sit on–on a warm, sunny day.

We were surprised to discover that we were not the only people there on this mid-week day. One couple ordered cocktails and sat at a table near the window, while a few other groups stood at the bar for tastings. We brought our tastes, plus a couple of bags of potato chips ($1.50 each), to a table and commenced some serious assessments.

There is a lengthy menu of cocktails and a separate menu of “Craft Tastings.” The latter is divided into two categories, of either three samples of “Vodka, Gin, or Sorbettas,” for $11. or three samples from the “Barrel Aged Tastings” list for $15. In either case, you get to keep your tasting glass, which the bartender will wrap up for you, as a souvenir. We have quite a collection of them!

Since there are eleven options on the first list, and seven options on the second, we needed some time and discussion to choose who would try which. Finally, my husband and I decided to share a Barrel Aged tasting; one visitor, who is a single malt scotch aficionado, decided to do one of those as well; and our other guest, whose favorite drinks include martinis and gibsons, opted to go for a vodka, a gin, and a sorbetta.

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1. Pine Barrens American Cherrywood Smoked Malt Whisky $39 for 375 mL
The bartender informed me that this and the other whisky are aged for one year, but in small barrels so they get plenty of exposure to the wood. That might account for the aroma of pencil shavings I detected, as well as a fruity note. Our friend noted that he prefers his whisky with a drop of water, and I suggested he could just step outside if he wanted water, at which he mimed wringing out his hat into his glass! We all agreed that this is a smooth whisky, somewhat fruity, though our friend did not like the finish.

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The first taste of vodka comes in a chilled glass.

2. LiV Potato Vodka $32 for a liter
This is the vodka that they started out with, and it is still a winner, which our friend called classic. She added that it would be good to sip on its own or as a mixer, as it is smooth and clean tasting.

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3. Pine Barrens American Single Malt Whisky $39 for 375 mL
Again we are in agreement, this time that we liked the first whisky better than this one, which is sharper or harsher, though it is not bad. It has a slightly funky aroma, and one friend says she detects a scent of chocolate.

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4. Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $32 for 750 mL
True to its name, this is a complex gin with a piney aroma. Our martini-loving friend says she would like it in a gin and tonic, but that it is too floral for a nice dry martini. “There’s a garden in here somewhere,” she concludes.

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I’d like to try this brandy in a snifter.

5. Sherwood House Vineyards XO Brandy $39 for 375 mL

Made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes and aged six years, this is a really nice brandy. I imagine sipping it after dinner in front of a fire, perhaps while cracking walnuts. It makes me warm all the way down, one of us comments. I get some tastes of vanilla and spice—almost but not quite pumpkin pie!

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The Tahitian Lime Sorbetta has a faint green hue and a very assertive lime taste.

6. Tahitian Lime Sorbetta   $19 for 375mL
The sorbettas come is slim elegant bottles. Knowing she has limoncello and orange liqueur at home, our friend chose to try the lime flavor. None of us really like this, which we say tastes like lime rinds mixed with sugar. Blimey, it’s limey!

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Before you ascend the stairs, you can peek into the distillery.

7. Rough Rider Double Cask Straight Bourbon Whisky   $39 for 750 mL
Our whisky drinking friend is pleased with this choice as well, which he says would go well in a mint julep, but is also nice to sip. It is smooth and pleasant, with a good finish.

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The stools are somewhat precarious, so we were joking that they were there so you knew when you needed to stop drinking.

Reasons to visit: You are in the Riverhead area and want to try something other than wine, cider, or beer; the Cherrywood Smoked Single Malt, the Potato Vodka, the Deepwells Botanical Gin, the XO Brandy, and the Rough Rider Bourbon; you would like a creative craft cocktail but don’t feel like going to a bar; you want to add to your collection of vodka or shot glasses. We also have liked in the past, and bought, the Bull Moose Rye Whisky. I don’t always like rye whisky, but I like this one.

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Long Island Spirits: Spirit of Spring March 23, 2018

http://lispirits.com/

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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.

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One view of the room.

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.

 

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The menu of vodkas and gin and sorbettas: I recommend you try both the potato and corn vodkas, to see the difference. The gin is also excellent.

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  1. 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.

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We’re amassing quite a collection of these nice little vodka glasses.

  1. 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.

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If you look closely, you can see the list of all the botanicals.

  1. 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.

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The whisky tasting glass. We’ve begun a collection of these, too!

  1. 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.

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The names are nods to Long Island: Teddy Roosevelt and the Pine Barrens region.

  1. 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.

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We haven’t tried any of these, but if we came with friends we might.

  1. 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.

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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.

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Careful on those stairs!

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Arrays of bottles and of various other products for sale.

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