Artisanal vodka made from Wisconsin organic wheat and organic malted barley.

Death’s Door Vodka

Named for the passage between Washington Island and the Door County peninsula.

About 7 miles off the tip of the Door County peninsula of Wisconsin (well to the northeast of Green Bay) lies tiny Washington Island. We’re talking about 700 year-round residents. That small. I had a friend in high school whose grandparents had a house there, and one summer he invited another friend and I to spend a few days there. It was an idyllic visit; we went out in a small boat fishing for lake trout (the best I could muster was to send a couple back into Lake Michigan asking them to send their parents our way), enjoying the summer sun, telling scary stories at night, and basically really taking it easy and savoring the slower pace of life there. I’d love to go back and decompress from 21st Century life!

So when I stumbled across Death’s Door Vodka at the local liquor store and saw Washington Island on the label, those memories flooded back. Intrigued, I read the info on the back of the bottle. The island was once known for its potato farming, but that changed in the 1970’s when they lost their customers. Flash forward to the early 2000’s, and some intrepid folks started growing wheat, used for flour initially, but now also used by Death’s Door to make vodka, gin, and white whiskey. Well, I figured, I’ll give this stuff a try and support my birth state’s farmers and craft distillers. And maybe if I’m lucky I’ll experience just a little bit of that magical visit all those years ago.

Another point of reference useful in this review is my first real experience with vodka. I was in the Air Force at the time, and it involved taking a good chug from a freezer-cold bottle of Stoli as a part of a celebration of completing a milestone in my training at the time. Of course, at that temperature, there wasn’t much to taste, so I was left with the impression that vodka was a very neutral spirit. A few cocktails along the way did nothing to change this impression. So with that background in place, I offer my review.

Death’s Door Vodka – Aug 2010 Harvest (noted on the cap) – tasted neat

Appearance – colorless and crystal clear.

Aroma – grains, alcohol, spice, herbal extracts and minerals.

Palate: Rounded, smooth, with decent body. Velvety on the tongue.

Flavor: Reminiscent of a good dry gin, if not quite as intense – herbal and spice notes, minerally, flavorful. Mild juniper-like note, hint of coriander and white pepper. Surprisingly flavorful. Drying finish with lingering aftertaste.

This artisanal vodka was really quite eye-opening for me. I never realized vodka could be so flavorful and nuanced. I’ve tried it in simple cocktails (with tonic water or bitter lemon soda) and it really shines. Highly recommended.

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