A Vodka for the Skeptics

There are those who drink vodka because it is relatively tasteless, and what little flavor it has can be easily masked by mixers (and in college, I admit, that was me). Eugene, Oregon, bartender and cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler usually eschews vodka for this very reason. “It’s boring liquor for boring people,” he claims on his blog.

But Jeffrey recently experienced a vodka conversion of sorts, when he sampled the wares of a distiller who thinks the same way he does: Paul McCann at Cirrus Vodka. As Paul explained to Jeffrey, he shares the belief that vodka should taste like something. “I work pretty hard on not distilling the character out of the spirit. I am not one to adhere to the tasteless, odorless definition,” Paul wrote in an email to Jeffrey. “After all what is the point of being able to enjoy something if it is totally void of any ‘spirit’. My belief is that vodka should be enjoyed as one would a bourbon or a whisky or anything else that you would drink by itself.”

And what does the actual product taste like? Jeffrey describes it in prose you might expect from a glossy marketing brochure, not a vodka-disdaining bartender.

The front palate and nose are brimming with bright citrus flavors—one of the few characteristics I look for in a vodka. But what surprised me and encouraged me to try another sip was the unbelievably smooth, creamy mouthfeel that was immediately followed by rich coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes.

Seriously. I know this sounds like bullshit, but the vodka really does taste like this.

The ensuing Q&A between Jeffrey and Paul is quite interesting as well. I’ll admit that a portion of it went slightly over my head (“raw materials used for a distillate taken to 190+ proof?”), but then again I was the college chick who liked vodka because it didn’t taste like booze. Now that I’ve (ahem) matured, maybe it’s time for my vodka to grow up too.

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