Since well before Russian-liquor boycotts made the headlines, Maine’s craft distillers have been turning out top-shelf vodkas — some of them classic, others fairly inventive. Raise a shot and say budmo (that’s “cheers” in Ukrainian) with these four favorites.
Cold River Vodka kicked off the state’s craft-distilling scene back in 2005 and is still among Maine’s most-awarded spirits. Others might ferment potato starch, but Cold River starts with whole spuds from cofounder Donnie Thibodeau’s Fryeburg farm. The taste is super clean, and aficionados applaud the pepper and caramel notes. 750 ml, $32.99.
Jon Quade, head distiller for Batson River Distilling (in Kennebunk and Portland, coming soon to Biddeford and Wells), attributes Clock Farm Vodka’s soft mouthfeel and clean, crisp profile to using oh-so-pure water from Harrison’s Summit Spring. A corn base gives this one a touch of sweetness. 750 ml; $29.99.
The midcoast’s Blue Barren Distillery launched with a focus on gin but branched into vodkas while prepping to launch their Camden harbor-front restaurant this summer. Each batch of its sugar-kelp vodka, a collaboration with Saco’s Atlantic Sea Farms, sits on 35 pounds of seaweed, giving it a slightly nectary brine. 750 ml, $34.99.
The subtly spicy horseradish vodka from Newcastle’s Split Rock Distilling makes for bloody-good bloodies, and a splash makes an oyster so much livelier. (And horseradish-vodka tonic? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.) The organic distillery uses an all-corn mash to make a base spirit for three different vodkas, including a straight and a blueberry (great with lemonade). The horseradish is local, naturally, from Pittsfield’s Snakeroot Organic Farm. 750 ml, $39.99.