This label aims to showcase the bounty of the region’s orchards in the form of a clean and complex spirit that is naturally slightly sweeter, and much smoother than a vodka made with wheat or grain. Each certified gluten-free and Kosher bottle contains around 70-80 local apples and captures the craftsmanship and passion of one of the country’s most vibrant agricultural regions.
Upstate Vodka is crafted at The Sauvage Distillery, located on 20 acres in Charlotteville, home to little over 200 people in Schoharie County. Sauvage tapped distiller Ken Wortz, a native New Yorker and artisanal distiller, to devise a process to create a special spirit from the fruit grown in this unique climate. New York is the second-largest apple producing state, home to more than 700 orchards – the Sauvage Distillery plays host to wild apple trees that are over 100-years-old and still bearing fruit.
To craft a bottle of Upstate Vodka, Wortz presses local apples and turns them into a liquid—each bottle contains 70-80 apples sourced from local New York State farms. The liquid is then fermented with Kosher yeast—a process that takes three times as long as it does with grain—and then twice-distilled in 16 and 18-plate, two-column stills.
Upstate Vodka benefits from the different types of sweet apples grown throughout the region. Whether a Spy Gold, Cortland, Kingston Black or Liberty, each type of apple has a different tannin profile, and these are key to rounding out the spirit’s flavor profile. The region’s famously clean water also makes a difference. The Sauvage Distillery taps into the stunningly clear waters that make up the New York state watershed. The same water that famously flows through New York City’s taps nourishes the mineral-rich soils of the surrounding orchards during a growing season of cool nights and long summer days.
More than anything, the process behind Upstate Vodka begins and ends with quality craftsmanship and passion that is a hallmark throughout the region from which the spirit takes its name. “Upstate residents who work at farms are putting their soul into anything they do whether, it’s growing apples to making vodka,” says Wortz.
The result is an exceptionally clean and smooth spirit. Expect a unique, light and crisp mouthfeel, with hints of soft apple on the nose, a rich, creamy and dense palate with a soft finish that carries hints of apple. Experience its subtle natural sweetness by sipping some over ice, or mix up a cocktail to showcase the spirit’s versatility. The refreshing Story House Spritz – named after the building that houses the distillery – combines Upstate Vodka with grapefruit soda, St. Germain and sparkling wine, while an Upstate Highball stirs the vodka with Starlino Rose Aperitivo and ginger beer. Ideal for a seasonal and fresh take on classics, other highlights from the brand’s cocktail library include the Bindery Lane Fizz, the Orchard Mule and the Upstate Martini.
Upstate Vodka wants their spirit to be enjoyed by drinkers of all stripes, so they have completed the most stringent gluten free certification available in the industry (from gfco.org). Since there is no gluten at all on the premises, there is no chance of cross contamination from the ingredients used during distillation, so Upstate Vodka is able to guarantee that every bottle is 100% gluten free every time. The spirit is also certified Kosher, and offers a special, limited-edition Passover batch to celebrate the holiday each year.
The label, designed by Stranger & Stranger, also reminds consumers of the work and care that goes into any bottle. It is meant to echo a whiskey label, signifying the craft and time that is spent making it. “A vodka like this takes time, not technology,” says Wortz. “Making vodka from grain is surely less expensive, but we’re committed to a product that is truly handcrafted and at its core, an agricultural product. “
Upstate Vodka is available at selected liquor stores across New York State and Connecticut and ships to 30