January 14, 2011

comb

Flipping through Edible Manhattan's booze-centric issue on the subway this morning, the phrase gin from honey caught my eye. I'm not much of a spirits drinker, but when I do order a cocktail it's often something that features the refreshing, herbal, junipery flavor of gin. And now someone is making gin from honey? Interesting.


The story goes like this. Several years ago, hedge-fund refugee Ed Tiedge was bitten by a spirits-making bug (or, I suppose, he was stung by a bee. Gosh, I get silly on the Friday before a 3-day weekend.). Selling his Porsche to support his burgeoning venture, Ed studied with distillers in California and cognac makers in France, then returned home to New York where he set up a basic pot still and began distilling his own honey-based brews.

At Ed's distillery, StilltheOne, the gin-making process begins with orange-blossom honey. The honey is diluted with water, yeast is added, and the solution is left to ferment in steel tanks for a couple of weeks, creating mead (honey wine). The mead, which is crisp and dry, with only a touch of the honey's sweetness remaining, is then transferred to stills where it is distilled first into brandy, then re-distilled to make an 80-proof vodka. The vodka undergoes another distillation with a mixture of 9 herbs, including juniper, licorice, coriander, rose petals, and galangal (what a combination!) to make gin.

According to the Edible article, the resulting spirits - Comb Vodka and Comb 9 Gin - are dry, clean, and sharp, with floral notes from the honey. And they are gluten-free, too, since they contain no wheat or other gluten-containing grains. One day soon I've got to get over to The Stag's Head, a gastropub on East 51st, to order the Bee's Knees: muddled lemon, honey, mint, and Comb 9 Gin. I wonder if they'll warm it up for you - wouldn't that make a lovely hot toddy?

In late fall, Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns supplied the distillery with sassafras, basil, green coriander seeds, honeysuckle, cardamom leaves, and honey from their very own hives. The signature spirit will be served in the near future at Stone Barns and Blue Hill New York.

For more details, read the full article here, and check out StilltheOne's website.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting. Have you heard of Vermont Gold? Vodka from maple sap!

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  2. Hi Megan! the Edible article mentions that some people are making spirits from maple sap but not any specifics. I'll have to check out Vermont Gold. Have you tried it?

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