I was as incredulous as anyone would be, when last week I was offered the opportunity by Scott Galbiati of Twenty2 Vodka in Houlton to try his roast turkey infused vodka. Yes, you read that right. Roast turkey infused vodka. Thanksgiving comes early this year, apparently.
Then again, Galbiati and his wife and business partner, Jessica Jewell, have been making vodka infusions with their hand-crafted High Proof Spirit — a 160 proof vodka made specifically for infusions — for the past year and a half. In 2012, Twenty2 won the prestigious platinum medal for quality for their traditional wheat-based microdistilled vodka at the annual Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards, as well as a double gold medal for quality at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In other words, Galbiati and Jewell are doing something very right.
So far, they’re only able to sell their High Proof Spirit to bars and restaurants, as the State of Maine Liquor License and Compliance Board has not yet approved their product to be sold in stores. But those bars and restaurants that do stock the spirit have produced a wide array of infusions — and it’s just as easy to make an infusion with Twenty2’s regular vodka as it is Twenty2’s special spirit; it just takes a little longer.
Galbiati each week makes a different infusion for the company’s website, and for the months of November and December he has been making special holiday-themed varieties. This month, it’s chocolate walnut, cranberry, candy cane and, yes, roast turkey.
First things first: the roast turkey vodka was actually not half bad, and did, in fact, taste just like turkey. Almost amazingly so — though there was a bit of a vodka bite, that savory, salt and peppery, crispy poultry taste was there, probably because all Galbiati used for the infusion was skin and wing tips. Pair it with some cranberry juice, or perhaps some muddled sage and black pepper and topped with club soda, and you can enjoy the taste of Thanksgiving in a glass.
The candy cane vodka packed a big mint punch, with a clear flavor of candy cane — not peppermint or mint schnapps — while the chocolate walnut tasted rich and decidedly nutty. The candy cane could be mixed with Bailey’s Irish Cream or a similar mixer, while the chocolate walnut pairs nicely with other nut or chocolate flavored liqueurs, such as Frangelico, amaretto or Godiva chocolate liqueur. Finally, the cranberry vodka is tart and tangy, and makes a mean Cosmopolitan.
Everything that Galbiati and Jewell have learned about infusing can be found at highproofspirit.com, which features recipes and tips for making your own infusions right at home. You can also check both that website and twenty2vodka.com for updates on events and new locations for sale of all their vodkas, including, hopefully, the High Proof Spirit sometime soon.