Maine’s Cold River Vodka named one of the world’s top spirits

Posted July 12, 2011, at 6:34 p.m.
Last modified July 12, 2011, at 7:12 p.m.
Cold River Vodka, craft-distilled in small batches by Maine Distilleries, has been named as one of the top spirits in the world in 2011 by a leading spirits expert.
Courtesy of Maine Distilleries
Cold River Vodka, craft-distilled in small batches by Maine Distilleries, has been named as one of the top spirits in the world in 2011 by a leading spirits expert.

FREEPORT, Maine — Cold River Vodka, craft-distilled in small batches by Maine Distilleries, has been named as one of the top spirits in the world in 2011 by a leading spirits expert. Spirit Journal includes Cold River Vodka in its 2011 list of ”Top Five-Star Spirits in the World,” an exclusive list assembled by F. Paul Pacult, one of the world’s leading spirits experts.

In awarding Cold River Vodka five stars, Pacult noted the vodka is “so good on its own that I hate to mix it in anything. But don’t let that stop you from using it as an ideal base for a vodka Gimlet.” He writes that assembling the list of 140 five-star spirits “gives me the opportunity to celebrate which have been my best experiences of the last 12 to 18 months.”

A five-star rating is given to spirits Pacult considers “classic” and is the highest rating he awards.

Cold River Vodka is distilled in a handcrafted solid copper still, a slow process that results in smoothness and purity worthy of a five-star rating. The partners and employees at Maine Distilleries take great care and pride in producing a world-class spirit worthy of its Maine heritage.

Cold River Vodka is a true farm-to-table spirit: The potatoes are grown by partner Donnie Thibodeau on his Green Thumb Farm in Fryeburg, Maine, and the vodka is hand-distilled and made with water from the nearby Cold River aquifer before being bottled by hand.

This local, hand-made production process sets Cold River Vodka apart from other vodkas in a market where most other vodkas are mass-produced using ethyl alcohol bought from an industrial distiller, blended with water and additives to produce the final product.

“You could spend a lot of time looking for the distilleries of the major vodka producers and not have any luck—they simply don’t exist,” notes managing partner and head distiller Chris Dowe. “That’s in contrast to our operation, where real people come to work every day and make Cold River from scratch. We don’t believe in shortcuts.”

“Being named to this list is satisfying,” he notes. “It’s recognition of the product we’re making, and we aren’t going to change a thing.”

Cold River Vodka has earned an impressive variety of accolades, awards, and coverage from outlets ranging from Wine Enthusiast, CNN.com, DRAFT magazine and The Washington Post, to TIME magazine, The Boston Globe, The World Spirits Competition, and History Channel’s “Modern Marvels.”

Founded in 2005, Maine Distilleries, located in Freeport, Maine, is the brainchild of four talented Maine entrepreneurs: Donnie Thibodeau, who owns Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg; his brother, Lee Thibodeau, a neurosurgeon in Portland, Maine; Bob Harkins, a former Sunday River ski executive from Paris, Maine; and Chris Dowe, head distiller, from New Gloucester, Maine.

Known for their distinct nose and satin-smooth finish, the company’s gluten-free vodkas and gin are hand-crafted and batch-distilled in a copper pot still, using water from Maine’s Cold River Aquifer and farm-fresh Maine potatoes. Maine Distilleries, which produces only Cold River Vodka, Cold River Blueberry Vodka, and Cold River Gin, is the only “ground-to-glass” distillery in the nation, where the company controls every aspect of production from the planting of the potatoes to final bottling. The company’s award-winning Classic and Blueberry Vodkas currently are available at major markets, restaurants, and fine spirits retailers in 26 states, the District of Columbia, western Canada and London. Cold River Gin began its August 2010 launch with a presence in seven northeast and southeast states and the District of Columbia.

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