Here on Rated R Cocktails we are first and foremost a Tiki cocktail publication. I always tell people though one of the biggest ways to be better at making Tiki cocktails is to keep tasting new things. This way you expand your palate and can better manage the big flavors you have to balance. A rep from Art in the Age, makers of delicious liqueurs like Rhubarb, Sage and Root, recently contacted me with news they had entered the flavored vodka market. This I later discovered was in partnership with Tamworth Distilling. I have to say I was initially skeptical. Most vodka pimps, flavored especially, are promptly discarded into my trash bin. I was more interested when I saw the color had not been fully filtered out and sterilized as happens all to often in this market. Better yet they even had that natural look. So I took them up on their offer to give each a try and pass on my impressions to my friends who visit my small corner of the internet. I’d like to thank them for their generous offer to taste and review their product.
The smell is rather promising. Roasted chicory wafts to the nose with only the faintest hint of sweetness from the maple. The color is a dark amber gold and you might trick someone who can’t smell into thinking it’s bourbon. The flavor has much more maple, enough to be disappointing when your expecting a rich full on punch of chicory. The chicory is definitely present mind you, but more as a secondary flavor to maple which is a bully anyway. The dandelion greens and chicory provide roasted and spicy notes to back up the maple and cinnamon. The press info on it also mentions rye seeds which I suppose are adding a spicy herbal bite with the dandelion greens but I am hard pressed to find them. It starts balanced and finishes sweet. Not sweet enough to be sickening but sweet enough to not be considered dry by any means. One could sip a small amount of this product as an after dinner cordial. It’s a bit sweeter than I would want and is more aptly labeled a Maple and Chicory Vodka. You could also try it in coffee or hot tea. Both drinks would enjoy it as a splendid substitute if your the kind that takes sugar or milk. As far as cocktails it doesn’t really sing out to be used in any particular way, but citrus would help to calm down the maple. You certainly wouldn’t have to use as much sweetener! 2.5/5
One whiff instantly brings grandmother’s sweet potato casserole to mind. The color is much more orange than the Chicory and it’s even a bit cloudy. Upon first sip this is definitely one of the more odd liquids that I’ve ever ingested. That’s something to say when you consider what an adventurous booze-hound I am. Like the Chicory there’s a sweetness here that’s a bit more than I normally care for. Thankfully it’s more from the sweet potato than the maple in this. The clove they advertise is present in the background. I think they intended it to provide some offset to the Sweet Potatoes and Maple. The finish is oddly salty. The soft specks of vanilla upfront likely make me think this is from marrying the flavors of oak and sweet potato. This is interesting, it’s definitely worth trying on it’s own to experience what they were going for. I’d like to try out some cocktails with this. To see how well the sweet potato flavors would hold up to some citrus, syrup and bitters. If your an adventurous drinker like me or a lover of sweet potatoes this is certainly worth your time. 3.5/5
Full disclosure here when I was offered the chance to review these spirits this one is the reason why I accepted. I am one of those nuts who loves beets and I thought the idea was super original. The color is a light rust red and the aroma is full of ripe red roasted beets. One can notice the cranberry after awhile along the edges. WOW! It tastes just like beet soup. It’s super earthy and vegetal. Unlike the other two this has little to no excessive sweetness being well balanced and full on with the advertised flavor. As you taste and roll it around in your mouth you can get some tidbits of tart cranberry and mild honey. Tarragon is thankfully a minor player thankfully. I know all to well how easily a spice or herb can take over. I’m happy to be able to give a big thumbs up to something here. This would be killer in a cocktail and practically begs to meet up with honey, lime, and orange in a tall punch. If you like beets it’s a super sipper. Sadly I don’t know how many people love the root veggies like I do. 4/5
Final Thoughts: I really like the idea behind these flavored spirits from Art in the Age. While they aren’t poorly made I think my biggest gripe might be in the design. I’d have much rather had 3 spirits that exemplified their namesakes, unfussed with and unfancied. If they had left out all the spices, excess fruits, maple, honey and other superfluous additives then I really think they would have had something even more special. When it comes to adding other flavors like cranberry, maple, or vanilla this is best done by the person mixing a cocktail. When your spirit already has 6 flavors competing for attention what room is left for the drink maker to create in? This is of course my opinion. As it stands the Beet Root and the Sweet Potato are definitely worth trying and making up your own mind about. Both are well made and interesting in their own right. Their namesake ingredients are bold and stand out well enough that I can recommend them and would purchase them myself. As for the Chicory I’m afraid it’s simply to confused to recommend. It has some delightful flavors, I could even see it being really lovely in a hot toddy. However it really is much more maple than chicory, this is upsetting particularly because if they had left the cinnamon out and dialed the maple way back they might have ended up with a real roasty, toasty treat. As it stands the finish is sweeter than I care for, and the roasted slightly bitter notes of chicory are far to understated.
Well this brings my review to an end. Have you dear reader tried any of the spirits above? What were your thoughts? I’d love to read them and respond in the comments. I have to say in the USA these flavors do really stand out at this time of year as being appropriate. I’d like to thank Art in the Age for letting us try and review their products. I hope personally they can respect my honesty, I know I’d be disrespecting you my dear reader if I was anything less than truthful with my opinions. Until next time…
“You Get Hammered America!” -JFL