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Boozing Au Naturale: Top Three Independent Distillers

June 27, 2009

We went to the Indy Spirits Expo this past week, where independent distillers show off their wares of small-batch, home-grown, 80-proof goodness. For a small fee you get to peruse 50 booths with tastings, where you were encouraged to try their liquors straight, on the rocks AND in some fabulous cocktail mix. You can imagine what kind of a crowd an all-you-can-drink event pulls, so I navigated through slurring frat boys and literally ate worms to find the best of the Indies for you.

1***My top choice was Loft Liqueurs, the first organic liqueur in the US. Run by two fabulous ladies out of Portland, OR, Loft offers a refreshing palette of unusual flavors – ginger was TDF, lemongrass was refreshing, and lavender was like a refined alcoholic version of one of my favorite candies.

2**Core Vodka is an apple vodka, but banish those thoughts of apple schnapps and other ill-conceived preteen alcohol mistakes! This is distilled from fresh-picked apples in the Hudson River Valley, so the flavor is subtle and not too sweet. The farm also offers tours and tastings, and is very proud of its contribution to local agriculture, so you can happily get your locavore kick beyond the Long Island wineries.

3* I also crushed on Tanteo Tequila, which offered chocolate, jalapeno, and tropical flavors. A 100% agave tequila made in real live Tequila, Mexico, they say they are made with “natural extracts” – not quite sure what that means on the spectrum of naturalness, but it tastes smooth with delicate flavors that blend well with fresh fruit cocktails. We tried a strawberry cocktail with the chocolate tequila, and the jalapeno tequila in a cucumbery mix.

Most of the booths were manned by great folks who were some part of the distilling process, and passionate about their work and their product. In spite of the swilling crowd in the dark night club (those places always look so…questionable…when there aren’t disco lights flashing), I strolled away with a belly full of goodness…and the best part about boozing au naturel – minimal hangover!

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