Liquid Diet: Grand Ten Distilling’s Rare Apple Vodka; New 383 Series
Once exclusive to hipster enclaves in Brooklyn and Austin, craft distilleries have now breached every state in the union and are on a similar trajectory as their brethren in beer. Coinciding with a parallel surge in quality, you now find grappas in Oregon (Clear Creek) that can challenge the best in Italy, a gin produced in Middleton, Wisconsin (Death’s Door) more alluring than all those London Drys, and a Northern California absinthe (St. George) as complex and intoxicating as any that have graced the cafes of Paris.
Grand Ten Distilling is New England’s entrée into this elite league of pot distilling savants. Launched in April of 2012 by Matt Neurnberger and Spencer McMinn, this South Boston distillery makes gins and liqueurs that’ll make you forget all about your go-to bases for tonics and sodas. Their Wire Works gin is clean and bright without giving star treatment to any one ingredient-unlike say, Tanqueray (juniper) or Hendrick’s (cucumber). Their Special Reserve, aged eleven months in American oak barrels, is even more appealing, with vanilla notes from the oak somehow drawing out the essence of local cranberries, which are used in place of traditional citrus peel. And for those turned off by the licorice-y backbone synonymous with Chartreuse, the Grand Ten Angelica is a perfect alternative with notes of fresh orange zest and cinnamon and a balanced sweetness.
Recently, Nuernberger and McMinn have been experimenting with a straight apple brandy, which is currently aging in barrels and won’t be released until sometime in 2014. In the meantime, however, they’ve used some of that fermented apple product to create a rare, limited-edition batch (148 bottles to be exact) of vodka. Produced with Cortland, Honey Crisp, Ginger Gold, Empire, and Golden Delicious apples from Shelburne’s Apex Orchards, this triple-distilled vodka is the first offering in their brand-new 383 series—a line of experimental, limited-edition spirits that are exclusively available at the Grand Ten facility (located, as it is, at 383 Dot Ave).
Nuernberger and McMinn are using the 383 platform to not only fuel their interminable creative energy, but to gauge the public’s interest before launching a new product into the market.
“I couldn’t even tell you what the next 383 project will be because we don’t know yet,” says Nuernberger. “It could be a rum product, a cordial, a whiskey; it could be anything. The idea is to reward our customers who come in here with product they can only get at the distillery.”
Grand Ten has accomplished the near-impossible with their apple vodka: transforming the most neutral of canvases into a layered and rich distillation perfect for sipping chilled or folded into a cocktail. Unlike Cîroc, which is derived from grapes, the fruit in the 383 apple vodka is hardly subtle. That’s not to say that the flavor isn’t clean or conducive to a good martini, but its powerful apple characteristics seem to beg for more unique applications.
In-house mixologist Lonnie Newburn whipped up a fantastic cocktail that would be as perfect on a summer patio as it would next to a hearty roast on a crisp autumn day. His version of a champagne fizz uses dry cider to add the necessary spritz.
2 oz. apple vodka
½ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. ginger infused simple syrup
Pour into a coupe glass and top with a dry apple cider such as Bantam Wunderkind
Each bottle of 383 apple vodka ($36) is signed and numbered and guaranteed to sell out quickly.
Tours are available to the public on Saturdays from 12pm-4pm. Grand Ten Distilling, 383 Dorchester Ave., Boston, (617) 269-0497, grandten.com.