Monday, December 28, 2015

The Versatility of Corn: Prairie Organic Vodka

Quite naturally corn is generally associated with moonshine (corn whiskey) and Bourbon since the mash bill is either 100% corn for moonshine or a minimum of 51% for Bourbon. But last week I sampled my first corn vodka, the Prairie Organic Vodka ($22)  - produced using certified organic #2 yellow corn and distilled to taste by Phillips Distilling Company.  This Minnesota distillery sources the corn from three local family farms: Sather Organic Farms, Olson Organics, and Little Big Man Organic Farms. The website details how these operations practice organic farming by creating a 25 foot buffer crop and then using birds and bats to combat insects.  The corn is then distilled to taste in Benson, Minnesota. Distilling to taste is similar to barrel blending in the sense that the goal is to create a consistent flavor profile and each corn batch differs based on climate, soil, etc. Interestingly, the spent corncobs are converted into bio-gas to power the stills. After distillation the vodka is transferred to Princeton, Minnesota and bottled by Ed Phillips and Sons - a fifth generation and family-operated distilled spirits company.

The final spirit has a familiar flavor profile as corn whiskey with that sweet corn flavor but the Prairie Organic Vodka plows deeper with a creamy texture and zero burn. The vodka is mighty fine neat, but will most likely be used in a cocktail. The distillery recommends the Prairie Organic Bootlegger using 1 ½ oz Prairie Organic Vodka, ½ oz lime cordial, and 3 fresh mint leaves. Shake and strain into a glass with ice. Top with soda water. Cheers.

What is Vodka? The U.S. Government definition of vodka reads as follows:
Sec. 5.22 The standards of identity.
Standards of identity for the several classes and types of distilled spirits set forth in this section shall be as follows (see also Sec. 5.35, class and type):
(a) Class 1: neutral spirits or alcohol. “Neutral spirits” or “alcohol” are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190[deg] proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80[deg] proof.
(1) “Vodka” is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

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