Last weekend, I made the trek to St. George Spirits and got my hands on the latest offering in their Alchemy series of infused vodkas: chipotle pepper.
According to the label – and why should they lie? – the vodka has been infused with habañero peppers, red bell peppers, along with smoked red fresno, green jalapeño, and red jalapeño peppers.
St. G puts out a very smooth, clean vodka. Adding all of the above rendered it into something like a birthday cake with a long-fused frag grenade inside – but in a good way.
What’s it taste like? Below is my train of thought during my first encounter:
Alright, it’s spicy, but not that spicy…Okay, there’s a little more heat coming through there as the smokiness gets more aggressive, but it’s still nothing I can’t hand- WHOA, NELLY!
And then I chased it with some ice water.
Basically, it sneaks up on you – but it’s damn tasty, too.
The flavor is more complex than I expected, presenting several layers of heat and smoky flavor over several seconds. It’s not an all-at-once sort of thing. Then again, having only had Absolut Peppar in the past1, I wasn’t expecting much. St. George’s left my meager expectations in the dust once again.
The smokiness is a genuinely tasty hardwood flavor married into the vodka – no shades of that godawful ‘liquid smoke’, here, and – despite the stated presence of some of the sweeter peppers, there’s only just enough sweetness to balance. That said, the flavors complement each other well, and the overall spiciness was at just about the maximum I’m willing to tolerate in a drink. Keep in mind that I’ve been trying it straight up – put it into a bloody mary, as per one of the serving suggestions, and it won’t pack nearly so strong a punch.
For kicks, I let a sip of the vodka evaporate completely on my tongue and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I could still “taste” it the next day. Like absinthe, this spirit climbs into your sinuses and sticks around for as long as it can. Fortunately, as the vodka is deliciously memorable, I didn’t mind all that much.
Alas, I’m not a bloody mary fan, so I’m looking for other cocktails recipes which might benefit by the addition of the infused equivalent of a kick in the mouth. I’m thinking it might be a hell of an addition to a fra diavolo-esque pasta sauce. Whatever I decide to do with it, I’m sure it’ll be memorable.
Boring Details: Although I refer to St. George’s, above, the vodka is sold under the Hangar One label. Don’t let that confuse you. It’s, y’know, a marketing/business thing. Unfortunately, like the previous Alchemist offering, the production run is limited to less than 300 cases (or so), so if you want to get your hands on some, you’ll have to move quickly. St. George Spirits recommends Caddell Williams for online ordering.
1 – I was young, curious and broke. In that order.