With the bevy of new distilleries opening in Utah and more of their products hitting the shelves all the time, there’s a lot to sort through. Here’s a handy set of reviews to save you time on your next trip to the state stores. Imbibe safely!
Beehive Organic Vodka
Description: This straightforward-looking liter bottle is exactly what I like to see when looking for vodka. No gimmicks, frills or attitude. Besides notifying us that its contents are certified organic, it’s somewhat unassuming. Clear spirits are best shown off like that. The nose is slightly sweet and mineral, with a hint of complementary grass. The flavor is similar with a rich mouthfeel, which is round but not sticky. The finish is clean, with a bit of grass and not quite dry.
Overview: Vodka is divisive; many use it specifically for its “lack” of flavor. But a really good vodka is a thing of beauty: clean, smooth and pure tasting. Ice cold, few things are more refreshing. It’s nice to see a local company doing a great job of distilling this unappreciated spirit. Many companies merely filter or even just repackage neutral spirits distilled elsewhere as vodka, but this is from scratch, the real deal.
Brigham Spice Rum
Description: This handsome amber rum emits an aroma of marshmallow and clove right off the bat, with some vanilla sweetness. The flavor is dry by contrast, while still showing off the spices. Clove and a bit of nutmeg are dominant with the aforementioned vanilla being a constant through-note. It’s not as creamy as it might sound, with a rich, fruity element running as another layer; subtly tropical, without being bright.
Overview: Distillery 36’s normal Brigham rum is one of my favorites, with its grassy sugarcane notes and clean finish, but I was skeptical of the spiced rum. It’s just not usually my favorite spirit to drink or mix, often too sweet or fake-tasting. I was pleasantly surprised, and with the underlying quality here, I shouldn’t have been. Their clear use of top quality spices and the excellent base rum make this imminently drinkable, though I’ll still prefer to mix it.
Uncharted Series Barrel-Rested Gin
New World Distillery
Description: This refreshing take on gin is golden or just amber from its brief time in a barrel, but interestingly, drinks more like a London dry than most aged gins. The aroma is strong pine and juniper up front with hints of mint and cardamom. The flavor is clean and dry with some light hints of oaky vanilla, but it’s not mellow. Lemongrass, grapefruit pith and some spruce round out the snappy finish.
Overview: Barrel gins are tricky, with many examples failing to balance the refreshing sharpness of the herbs with the mellowing process of the barrel. The quality of the 100-percent-corn-base spirit shows through on this one, helping bridge the gap. Being especially clean and crisp, the botanicals are barely suppressed at all by the tannins and caramels from the oak. The result is that it’s immediately ready to be sipped, and it’s mostly a shame this will get put into a mixed drink more than it should. This is a small-batch offering available only at New World Distilling in Eden, Utah.
Wasatch Blossom Utah Tart Cherry Liqeur
New World Distillery
Description: This elegant, etched-glass bottle is worth picking up on its own, even without the remarkable liqueur inside. The deep-ruby liquid pours just a little viscous, but not syrupy, with hints of garnet at its lightest. The aroma is deep cherrywood, some gradd, chokecherries and bark, really allowing the earthiness of the cherries to mix well with the agave elements. Sweet, but not cloying, almost tickling your tongue with its depth.
Overview: Being stronger than your average liqeur (64 proof as apposed to 40 proof), allows Wasatch Blossom to hold its own in a mixed context better than most. That being said, it’s delightful to just sip, neat or on the rocks. New World has again chosen wisely by pairing the local Montmorency cherries with agave spirit base and agave nectar to sweeten. The naturally earthy flavors blend together well and create something unique. The tartness of the fruit is lost, so make sure to add some acidity when mixing.