Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boyd and Blair - Best Potato Vodka Outside of Poland

Boyd and Blair
I was listening to WHYY-FM, the default station on my car radio, when I heard that Boyd and Blair vodka, made in Pittsburgh, PA was voted the best non-Polish potato vodka available.  Imagine that, the best non-Polish potato vodka made in my own state, a mere three hundred miles from my home.  

I don't really drink vodka.  I think of vodka as fire water; no taste just fire.  The law requires all vodkas be double charcoal filtered.  How can there be any difference in taste if they are all double charcoal filtered?  Doesn't the charcoal filter out all the taste?  But I pride myself on being open minded.  I was willing to try this vodka voted best non-Polish potato vodka.  I like to support local businesses.  After all, Pittsburgh is more local than Warsaw or Vladivostok.
Boyd and Blair distills two strengths of vodka, an 80 proof and a 151 proof.  The distiller recommended using the 151 proof to create your own cordials, like Limoncella and Creme De Menthe.  Both recipes are on their website.

The discussion on the radio show later turned to infusing vodka. 

I remember the first time I saw infused vodkas, probably thirty / thirty-five years ago.  It was on a visit to a fund raising bazaar at Saint Andrew's Russian Orthodox Church in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.  (My parents are Russian Orthodox.  My paternal grandfather helped start St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox church nearly 100 years ago.  Just two city blocks away, St. Nicholas relieved the overcrowding at St. Andrew's from the influx of eastern European immigrants at the turn of the last century.)  At the bazaar there were four or five, five gallon glass bottled water jugs behind a table.  Each was partially filled with a liquid and marked with its flavoring agent.  Pepper, lemon and black tea were the flavors I remember.  The more I listened to the radio show, the more I yearned to infuse vodka.

Before I started to infuse the vodka, I needed to taste this exceptional vodka.  As I said earlier, I don't drink vodka so I had no experience with differentiating between good (read expensive) and bad (read cheap) vodkas.
In the past, whenever I purchased vodka, I usually purchased Nikolai, because I liked the label and it was inexpensive.  Because all vodkas, by law are double charcoal filtered, in my mind, all vodkas were the same.  So why spend more than I needed?  Being older and wiser, I was willing to taste the best non-Polish vodka available, to see if there is any taste in vodka.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
I found and purchased a bottle of Boyd and Blair in my local PA state store.  Since I have never tasted any premium vodkas - Finlandia, Stolichnaya, Grey Goose, Absolut, Ketel One or Chopin - I wouldn't be able to compare them to the taste of Boyd and Blair.  I could, however, compare it to other liquors I have tasted.  I poured myself a shot.
I put the shot glass near my lips and my first reaction was to the alcohol.  It filled my head with an antiseptic hospital aroma.  It was strong and made me a little light headed.  I lowered the glass down to waist level and took a breath.  I slowly and deliberately brought the glass back to my lips and the strong alcohol smell had subsided.  That or my nose was numb.  Either way, my first sip was nice.  It was like good Irish whiskey, smooth, mild and drinkable.

I had a fresh loaf of French bread on the counter and spread on it a bit of blue cheese.  The vodka paired well with the blue cheese and bread.  That second sip of vodka produced visions in my head of Russians wearing big fur hats eating caviar, sour cream and onions on fresh rye bread interspersed with shots of vodka and deep laughter.  I thought, "I could do this."  It was working for me.  I refrained, though.  I had infusions to make with the best non-Polish potato vodka available. 

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy. Leave a comment. I won't bite your head off.