Long Island Spirits: Time to Warm Up January 8, 2017

http://lispirits.com/

It takes more than a little snow to keep us from doing a tasting.

It takes more than a little snow to keep us from doing a tasting.

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There’s something about a cold snowy day that gets me thinking about whiskey rather than wine—and certainly not beer.  So we headed to Long Island Spirits—formerly known as Long Island Vodka, or LiV, but now much more than just vodka.  We hadn’t been there for two years, and, though the tasting room is the same, the menu has certainly changed, with many more options.  In addition to their classic vodka, they have a new vodka that is corn based and tastes very different. Then there are a couple of gins and several whiskeys.  Plus their line of sorbettos—after- dinner drinks comparable to Limoncello—has greatly expanded.  And we didn’t even begin to explore their menu of cocktails.

Lots of options!

Lots of options!

Plus cocktails...

Plus cocktails…

Since we had the tasting room to ourselves on this Sunday after a big snowstorm, we took our time and enjoyed chatting with the server, who had plenty to tell us about our choices.  They have two basic menus, with the vodkas and sorbettos and a gin on one, with any three for $11, and the whiskeys and bourbons and a different gin on the other, with any three for $16.  We decided to share one of each group of tastings, which meant we got to go home with two cute little glasses to add to our collection.

 

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The glasses are free with your tasting.

 

 

  1. LIV Standard Edition Vodka        $32/1 liter

Served practically frozen straight from the freezer, this is a good vodka for someone who finds most vodka rather tasteless.  It has an intriguing smoky flavor and a smooth—almost too smooth—finish.  I think it would add an interesting depth to cocktails such as a Bloody Mary, and you could also sip it straight or on the rocks.  Our server informed us that it is made from corn, unlike their classic vodka, which uses Long Island potatoes, and is a new product.  Good addition to their line-up, we think.

You can see they have quite an array of products.

You can see they have quite an array of products.

  1. LIV Ristretto Espresso Vodka $35/750 ml

They make this with actual brewed coffee and sugar, plus vodka.  If you like Starbucks espresso, you’ll like this drink.  Our server says she likes it mixed with chocolate syrup and cream for an after dinner drink.  Yum.

  1. Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $35/750 ml

Our glass got a quick rinse after the espresso so that we could really taste and appreciate the varied flavors of this gin.  Thoughtfully, our server also gave us some water so we could rinse out our palates.  According to the label, it is made from 28 “local and exotic botanicals,” amongst which we were not surprised to find anise and orris root, since we detect a strong note of licorice.  It smells like cloves and other spices and has a complex flavor.  My husband, a devotee of martinis and Gibsons, likes the taste, but would not want it in a martini.  Our server suggests it would be good in a Tom Collins, and I could see it going very well in a gin and tonic—or again, just on the rocks.

We had the room to ourselves.

We had the room to ourselves.

  1. Pine Barrens Reserve Botanical Dry Gin $45/750 ml

For the switch to the other menu, we get a different glass, with a little etching of pine cones on it.  Our server suggests we start with this, so we can do a gin to gin comparison.  It is quite different.  This is a gin that is aged in whiskey barrels, which, we decide, makes it a good gin for someone who likes whiskey.  It smells somewhat piney, and tastes like a cross between gin and whiskey.  It also uses 28 botanicals.  I have to say, it goes down very easy.  My husband again says he wouldn’t want it in a martini, but I think it would be perfectly fine straight.

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  1. Pine Barrens Single Malt Whisky $80/750 ml

I like single malt scotch, so I was interested to see what this was like.  The aroma is sweet and again a bit piney.  It’s my favorite of the day.  The LIV web site has an interesting description of how they make this: “Pine Barrens is the first American Single Malt Whisky to be distilled on Long Island. Instead of creating whisky from a regular mash, Pine Barrens uses an actual finished 10%ABV barley wine English styled Ale Beer that has a high hop count of 70 IBU’s.”  As they say, it is incredibly smooth, with some tastes of spices such as nutmeg.

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  1. Rough Rider “The Big Stick”       $60/750 ml

You may not know this, but Theodore Roosevelt took his Rough Riders out to Montauk for training before they rode up San Juan Hill.  In any event, this rye whisky is made from winter rye, a cover crop that is used to enrich the soil after potatoes are harvested.  The name may be a reference to the fact that it is 121 proof, in addition to Roosevelt’s famous quote!  Though it is not as smooth as the Single Malt, it is still a good drink, with some nice spice tastes, though a bit sweet for me.

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  1. Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye Whisky $45/750 ml

Just for comparison sake, and because we have been having such interesting conversations about the drinks, as well as about various other North Fork venues, we are given a little sample of this other rye whisky.  I find it less interesting than the Rough Rider, though I think it would make a superlative hot toddy.  It is called “three barrel” because it is actually aged in three different kinds of barrels:  new American oak, bourbon casks, and Pine Barren casks.

We get a small bottle of the Pine Barrens Single Malt to take home.

They have a small selection of gift items.

They have a small selection of gift items.

Reasons to visit:  it’s winter and you need something to warm your innards; you’d like to try locally made, small batch, and really good spirits; you like vodka; you like gin; you like whisky.

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Long Island Spirits: And We Don’t Mean Ghosts January 3, 2015

http://www.lispirits.com/index.php

LIV sign

Local wine and craft beer are fine, but what if you want something stronger?  Long Island is famous for its potatoes, so what could be more natural than to use those potatoes to make a pure potato vodka?  And so LIV was born.  The distillery’s tasting room is up a flight of wooden stairs in a chic industrial-style loft space, where you will find not only vodka, but a series of liqueurs made from that vodka, plus gin, and also a line of “brown” spirits—various styles of whisky.

Here you buy the glass, which can then be filled with your choice of tastes: three from the vodka menu for $10 or two from the whisky menu for $14.  Then they wrap up the glass for you to take home.  Our server was also one of the distillers, and his enthusiasm for his products was quite catching.  We learned all sorts of bits of information, such as that it takes 25 pounds of potatoes to make one bottle of vodka.  They also can now offer cocktails, and will soon have local beer as well.  They have a small selection of drink-related gift items.

Some of their gift items

Some of their gift items

By the way, if you go on their web site they ask for your birth date, and if you decline to provide it and try to enter you are diverted to a Disney site.

From the Vodka Menu

  1. LIV Original

This is “just a great vodka” we decided.  Not too many vodka makers do a straight potato vodka, notes our server.  The taste is very clean and clear.

The vodka glass

The vodka glass

  1. Raspberry Sorbetto $22

Local raspberries are used to infuse the vodka with intense berry taste.  Though sugar is also added, our friend noted it was not too sweet, and would make a lovely cocktail with bitters.

  1. LIV Ristretto Espresso $30

Yes, this is vodka infused with espresso plus sugar.  “Dangerously delicious,” muses our friend, and “shouldn’t coffee come in this form?”  Not sure how much this would wake you up in the morning.

LIV also menu

  1. Lime Sorbetto $22

Obviously the limes are not locally grown, but this is also quite good.  Our friend compared it to key lime pie.

  1. Strawberry Sorbetto $22

Mattituck is famous for its strawberry festival, so it’s no surprise to find a strawberry flavor on the menu.  However, we find this one a bit too sweet.

  1. Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $35

28 botanicals, to be precise, all of which are listed on the tasting menu, and quite botanical it is indeed.  Though it would not really work in a martini, one could be quite happy drinking this straight or on the rocks, or maybe in a gin and tonic with the interesting tonic they have for sale.

From the Whisky Menu

The whisky glass

The whisky glass

  1. Rough Rider Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye Whisky $45

Yes, three barrels—North American oak, bourbon casks, and finally whisky casks—are part of the process of distilling this whisky.  The aroma is sweet and spicy, maybe allspice, also caramel candy and apple pie.  I like whisky, single malt scotch in particular.  This is very smooth and quite tasty and we buy a bottle to take home.

  1. Pine Barrens Single Malt Whisky                 $45

This drink starts its life as English ale barley wine which is then double pot distilled and aged in new American oak casks—plus more detail I missed in my notes because I was enjoying the drink.  I didn’t like this as much as the Rough Rider, but it is also a very good whisky, with some earthiness to the taste, a bit lighter than the Rough Rider.

LIV bar

Reasons to visit:  you like vodka, gin, whisky, and/or after dinner drinks like Limoncello, which the sorbettos resemble; you’ve been to a bunch of wineries and are ready for something different.

The recipe for one of their cocktails

The recipe for one of their cocktails

The entrance

The entrance