There’s a revolution going on right now in spirits that isn’t getting much coverage. Many small craft distillers are dumping the traditional American definition of vodka in favor of a more European style. Vodka in America is defined by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) as “a neutral spirit so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.” In Europe, vodka isn’t just an odorless and tasteless spirit. Instead of eliminating the taste of the raw materials, in European vodka they are “selectively reduced”. While these official definitions may seem complex, the key difference is this: in the US, vodka doesn’t taste like what it’s made out of, and in Europe it does.
European vodkas like Grey Goose Vodka and Belvedere Vodka are immensely popular in the American market and so it’s exciting to see a new breed of American vodkas which embrace the taste of their raw ingredients and deliver a vodka with some character. Of these New American vodkas, our absolute favorite comes out of a small distillery in Seattle called Sound Spirits.
Ebb + Flow Vodka (80 proof – $30) – has a deliciously rich and creamy, malty nose. Soft vanilla notes complement the malty tones in an immensely inviting nose. The entry is a burst of flavor, with rich chocolate malty goodness combined with creamy vanilla notes and flavors which remind us of buttered toast. There are aspects of the entry which remind us of a soft white whisky but the comparisons all end at the mid palate where Ebb + Flow Vodka does something extraordinary. The flavors turn and finish like a true vodka. The creamy vanilla sticks around from the mid palate to finish off very clean and dry. It’s clear from the finish just how masterful the distillation is on Ebb + Flow Vodka. It is one of the finest distilled spirits we’ve seen from craft distiller yet.
Ebb + Flow Vodka is simply amazing. The combination of the vodka’s flavors and how they are delivered as well as the extraordinary quality in distillation make Ebb + Flow Vodka one of the most promising new entries into the vodka market that we’ve seen, and perhaps the best vodka made in America. Sound Spirits is small so their distribution isn’t national yet, but if Ebb + Flow is any indication of what they are capable of, we can imagine people going to great lengths to acquire their spirits. We simply can’t recommend it highly enough. Highest Recommendation – Best of Class