Twelve Years Later

Rootstock Vodka: Distinctive And Intentional $26

Most vodkas don't taste like anything. In fact, fans of the spirit value the attribute of tastelessness, though they call it something more romantic. When this sample arrived, my curiosity was piqued. Not only is it distilled from hard cider, but it's from a producer whose products I've come to respect. And it definitely doesn't taste like nothing. Though the nose shares a lot in common with joven mezcal (off-putting to some,) it goes through an ugly duckling sort of a transformation in the mouth. If you squint at it, you can trace a hint of flavor back to the apple tree, but the more prominent whispering is in the form of green olive and vermouth. Wait, what? Yes, there's some real character here, and is it any accident that it's three quarters of the way to a solid martini right out of the bottle? Imagine the possibilities of something so interesting as the starting point for your cocktail. Finishes clean, too, which is always a good sign. Very nicely done. 89 points (Sample)