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Rural Spirit

The cow on the bottle of Vermont White vodka means exactly what you fear it does: vodka made from milk. Well, they make vodka out of potatoes in Poland and grapes in France, so why not this in the Ben & Jerry's state?There is a possibly desperate tradition of making vodka from milk practiced in Tuva, a remote former Soviet republic near Mongolia, and in Mongolia itself (learn more, I kid you not, at e-mongol.com). You can make vodka from anything that contains enough sugar to feed yeast. Vodka makers work hard to claim almost supernatural purity, though, so does it really matter from what their liquor is made?In a word, yes. ­Vermont White ($28) has a creamy sort of nose and a soft quality in the mouth, while Vermont Gold ($35), made from pure maple sap, has a syrupy- sweet smell and an oiliness in the mouth. Both are absolutely distinct from France's grape-derived Ciroc, with its fruity-tangy, almost orangey notes. But keep in mind that none of this subtlety matters if you use vodka as a mixer. The only way to separate grape vodka from milk vodka or even soy vodka—yes, there is a soy vodka—is by drinking it straight and freezer-cold.

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