Long Island Spirits: Not the Halloween Kind October 9, 2019

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On this rain-soaked, chilly day, a drink of whisky sounded perfect.

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There are pumpkins piled high at every farm stand or spread out in the fields, and it seems as though “pumpkin spice” is in everything except wine. There’s even a Pumpkin Pie Sorbetta liqueur at Long Island Spirits, but we are rebelling against all things pumpkin, so we did not try it on our recent visit to their tasting room. It was a chilly rainy day, and we and our guests agreed that it was perfect weather for whisky (or whiskey). So we dodged the raindrops and climbed the stairs to the airy space that includes a bar along one side and an assortment of tables and stools or chairs, plus doors leading to an outdoor deck where, one visitor noted, it would be nice to sit on a sunny day.

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That deck would be nice to sit on–on a warm, sunny day.

We were surprised to discover that we were not the only people there on this mid-week day. One couple ordered cocktails and sat at a table near the window, while a few other groups stood at the bar for tastings. We brought our tastes, plus a couple of bags of potato chips ($1.50 each), to a table and commenced some serious assessments.

There is a lengthy menu of cocktails and a separate menu of “Craft Tastings.” The latter is divided into two categories, of either three samples of “Vodka, Gin, or Sorbettas,” for $11. or three samples from the “Barrel Aged Tastings” list for $15. In either case, you get to keep your tasting glass, which the bartender will wrap up for you, as a souvenir. We have quite a collection of them!

Since there are eleven options on the first list, and seven options on the second, we needed some time and discussion to choose who would try which. Finally, my husband and I decided to share a Barrel Aged tasting; one visitor, who is a single malt scotch aficionado, decided to do one of those as well; and our other guest, whose favorite drinks include martinis and gibsons, opted to go for a vodka, a gin, and a sorbetta.

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1. Pine Barrens American Cherrywood Smoked Malt Whisky $39 for 375 mL
The bartender informed me that this and the other whisky are aged for one year, but in small barrels so they get plenty of exposure to the wood. That might account for the aroma of pencil shavings I detected, as well as a fruity note. Our friend noted that he prefers his whisky with a drop of water, and I suggested he could just step outside if he wanted water, at which he mimed wringing out his hat into his glass! We all agreed that this is a smooth whisky, somewhat fruity, though our friend did not like the finish.

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The first taste of vodka comes in a chilled glass.

2. LiV Potato Vodka $32 for a liter
This is the vodka that they started out with, and it is still a winner, which our friend called classic. She added that it would be good to sip on its own or as a mixer, as it is smooth and clean tasting.

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3. Pine Barrens American Single Malt Whisky $39 for 375 mL
Again we are in agreement, this time that we liked the first whisky better than this one, which is sharper or harsher, though it is not bad. It has a slightly funky aroma, and one friend says she detects a scent of chocolate.

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4. Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $32 for 750 mL
True to its name, this is a complex gin with a piney aroma. Our martini-loving friend says she would like it in a gin and tonic, but that it is too floral for a nice dry martini. “There’s a garden in here somewhere,” she concludes.

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I’d like to try this brandy in a snifter.

5. Sherwood House Vineyards XO Brandy $39 for 375 mL

Made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes and aged six years, this is a really nice brandy. I imagine sipping it after dinner in front of a fire, perhaps while cracking walnuts. It makes me warm all the way down, one of us comments. I get some tastes of vanilla and spice—almost but not quite pumpkin pie!

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The Tahitian Lime Sorbetta has a faint green hue and a very assertive lime taste.

6. Tahitian Lime Sorbetta   $19 for 375mL
The sorbettas come is slim elegant bottles. Knowing she has limoncello and orange liqueur at home, our friend chose to try the lime flavor. None of us really like this, which we say tastes like lime rinds mixed with sugar. Blimey, it’s limey!

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Before you ascend the stairs, you can peek into the distillery.

7. Rough Rider Double Cask Straight Bourbon Whisky   $39 for 750 mL
Our whisky drinking friend is pleased with this choice as well, which he says would go well in a mint julep, but is also nice to sip. It is smooth and pleasant, with a good finish.

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The stools are somewhat precarious, so we were joking that they were there so you knew when you needed to stop drinking.

Reasons to visit: You are in the Riverhead area and want to try something other than wine, cider, or beer; the Cherrywood Smoked Single Malt, the Potato Vodka, the Deepwells Botanical Gin, the XO Brandy, and the Rough Rider Bourbon; you would like a creative craft cocktail but don’t feel like going to a bar; you want to add to your collection of vodka or shot glasses. We also have liked in the past, and bought, the Bull Moose Rye Whisky. I don’t always like rye whisky, but I like this one.

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Long Island Spirits: Cocktail Time August 29, 2018

Long Island Spirits: Cocktail Time August 29, 2018

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No, the name Long Island Spirits does not refer to ghosts. The distillery used to be called LiV, for Long Island Vodka, but now they have so much more. In addition to their vodka and a bunch of sorbettos made from vodka, they also carry gin and several whiskies. We had been there recently for a tasting, but we had visitors whom we knew would appreciate what LIS had to offer, so after a trip to the aquarium in Riverhead we headed to Sound Avenue.


While our friends sampled whisky and sorbetto, we ordered cocktails and settled down at a table to enjoy them. And enjoy them we did. I had the Cucumber Mint Cooler made with gin and my husband had the Bloody Mary. My drink was, as its name suggests, crisp and cool, just right for the hot weather. It was garnished with a slice of cucumber. The Bloody Mary was also tasty, though it could have been a touch spicier, garnished with olives and a pickle.

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Our cocktails, with a couple of sips already taken.

I have wanted to try their cocktails, and was happy I finally got to.
After the drinking, our friends bought the lemon and orange sorbettos and an espresso vodka, while we bought a bottle of Rough Rider Rye to replace the one we had finished.
Reasons to visit: in addition to excellent vodka, gin, whisky, rye, and sorbetto, some really nice cocktails. Too bad they don’t have a menu of bar snacks to go with them!

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While we were there we saw a couple of people order cocktails and take them out to the deck, but it was awfully hot out there!

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Downstairs you can peek through a window at the distillery.

Long Island Spirits: Time to Warm Up January 8, 2017

http://lispirits.com/

It takes more than a little snow to keep us from doing a tasting.

It takes more than a little snow to keep us from doing a tasting.

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There’s something about a cold snowy day that gets me thinking about whiskey rather than wine—and certainly not beer.  So we headed to Long Island Spirits—formerly known as Long Island Vodka, or LiV, but now much more than just vodka.  We hadn’t been there for two years, and, though the tasting room is the same, the menu has certainly changed, with many more options.  In addition to their classic vodka, they have a new vodka that is corn based and tastes very different. Then there are a couple of gins and several whiskeys.  Plus their line of sorbettos—after- dinner drinks comparable to Limoncello—has greatly expanded.  And we didn’t even begin to explore their menu of cocktails.

Lots of options!

Lots of options!

Plus cocktails...

Plus cocktails…

Since we had the tasting room to ourselves on this Sunday after a big snowstorm, we took our time and enjoyed chatting with the server, who had plenty to tell us about our choices.  They have two basic menus, with the vodkas and sorbettos and a gin on one, with any three for $11, and the whiskeys and bourbons and a different gin on the other, with any three for $16.  We decided to share one of each group of tastings, which meant we got to go home with two cute little glasses to add to our collection.

 

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The glasses are free with your tasting.

 

 

  1. LIV Standard Edition Vodka        $32/1 liter

Served practically frozen straight from the freezer, this is a good vodka for someone who finds most vodka rather tasteless.  It has an intriguing smoky flavor and a smooth—almost too smooth—finish.  I think it would add an interesting depth to cocktails such as a Bloody Mary, and you could also sip it straight or on the rocks.  Our server informed us that it is made from corn, unlike their classic vodka, which uses Long Island potatoes, and is a new product.  Good addition to their line-up, we think.

You can see they have quite an array of products.

You can see they have quite an array of products.

  1. LIV Ristretto Espresso Vodka $35/750 ml

They make this with actual brewed coffee and sugar, plus vodka.  If you like Starbucks espresso, you’ll like this drink.  Our server says she likes it mixed with chocolate syrup and cream for an after dinner drink.  Yum.

  1. Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $35/750 ml

Our glass got a quick rinse after the espresso so that we could really taste and appreciate the varied flavors of this gin.  Thoughtfully, our server also gave us some water so we could rinse out our palates.  According to the label, it is made from 28 “local and exotic botanicals,” amongst which we were not surprised to find anise and orris root, since we detect a strong note of licorice.  It smells like cloves and other spices and has a complex flavor.  My husband, a devotee of martinis and Gibsons, likes the taste, but would not want it in a martini.  Our server suggests it would be good in a Tom Collins, and I could see it going very well in a gin and tonic—or again, just on the rocks.

We had the room to ourselves.

We had the room to ourselves.

  1. Pine Barrens Reserve Botanical Dry Gin $45/750 ml

For the switch to the other menu, we get a different glass, with a little etching of pine cones on it.  Our server suggests we start with this, so we can do a gin to gin comparison.  It is quite different.  This is a gin that is aged in whiskey barrels, which, we decide, makes it a good gin for someone who likes whiskey.  It smells somewhat piney, and tastes like a cross between gin and whiskey.  It also uses 28 botanicals.  I have to say, it goes down very easy.  My husband again says he wouldn’t want it in a martini, but I think it would be perfectly fine straight.

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  1. Pine Barrens Single Malt Whisky $80/750 ml

I like single malt scotch, so I was interested to see what this was like.  The aroma is sweet and again a bit piney.  It’s my favorite of the day.  The LIV web site has an interesting description of how they make this: “Pine Barrens is the first American Single Malt Whisky to be distilled on Long Island. Instead of creating whisky from a regular mash, Pine Barrens uses an actual finished 10%ABV barley wine English styled Ale Beer that has a high hop count of 70 IBU’s.”  As they say, it is incredibly smooth, with some tastes of spices such as nutmeg.

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  1. Rough Rider “The Big Stick”       $60/750 ml

You may not know this, but Theodore Roosevelt took his Rough Riders out to Montauk for training before they rode up San Juan Hill.  In any event, this rye whisky is made from winter rye, a cover crop that is used to enrich the soil after potatoes are harvested.  The name may be a reference to the fact that it is 121 proof, in addition to Roosevelt’s famous quote!  Though it is not as smooth as the Single Malt, it is still a good drink, with some nice spice tastes, though a bit sweet for me.

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  1. Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye Whisky $45/750 ml

Just for comparison sake, and because we have been having such interesting conversations about the drinks, as well as about various other North Fork venues, we are given a little sample of this other rye whisky.  I find it less interesting than the Rough Rider, though I think it would make a superlative hot toddy.  It is called “three barrel” because it is actually aged in three different kinds of barrels:  new American oak, bourbon casks, and Pine Barren casks.

We get a small bottle of the Pine Barrens Single Malt to take home.

They have a small selection of gift items.

They have a small selection of gift items.

Reasons to visit:  it’s winter and you need something to warm your innards; you’d like to try locally made, small batch, and really good spirits; you like vodka; you like gin; you like whisky.

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