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Tuesday, January 18, 2011
COMB Honey-Based Vodka and Gin

Last Friday, Astoria Wine & Spirits hosted a COMB Vodka and Gin tasting. I don't drink hard liquor much anymore, but this brand caught my eye because they are a honey-based spirits company. This is an exciting new alternative to those of you who are on a gluten-free diet and want to stick to gluten-free liquor.

Although I have heard of potato-based vodkas, I never heard of vodkas made entirely from honey so I wrote to the company looking for additional information. Ed Tiedge, founder of COMB Spirits, replied that "COMB Vodka and COMB 9 Gin are distilled 100% from honey and are gluten free and, in fact, made with no grains at all." Awesome!

Here is what else I learned:

Where is COMB made?
Everything is done in our artisan distillery that is located in Port Chester, NY in Westchester County. There we ferment the honey into honey wine (mead). We then distill it into vodka, gin or brandy and finally bottle and pack it.

Where does the honey come from?
We make our honey wine from orange blossom honey that we source from Florida.

Why don’t you use local honey?
The taste of a particular honey reflects the nectar of the blossom varietal it’s taken from. (Orange blossom, avocado, almonds, etc.) Much of the available local honey is characterized as clover and “wild flower” whose flavors can be quite variable from batch to batch. This leads to inconsistent flavors that don’t always translate favorably to wines and spirits. There are some excellent single varietal honeys in New York State, apple blossom for example, but they are not available in sufficient quantity for reliable production of our spirits.

Do you have your own bees?
Currently we don’t have our own bee hives; however, we are looking at purchasing some hives to insure a reliable supply of local honey from apple blossoms.

How much honey does it take to make spirits?
It takes about a gallon of honey to make a gallon of vodka. Honey is about 80% sugar so it takes less per pound than grains to make alcohol.

How much COMB can you make?
At current capacity, we can make about 100 cases per month.

Who is pouring it?
We’re currently in several restaurants in Westchester County that emphasize high quality local
producers, Blue Hill at Stone Barns use COMB Vodka and COMB 9 Gin, and we will soon be
poured in several cutting edge cocktail bars in New York City.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the COMB Vodka tasting this past weekend but I hope to catch them in NYC soon.

You can learn more about COMB Vodka and COMB 9 Gin here:
Twitter: @COMB_CTO

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought any liquor that was distilled was gluten free?

Blogger Erin S. said...

Thanks for your comment. Distilled liquor is one of those controversial topics with opinions on both sides of the argument. Some people will not touch liquor unless it is produced from gluten-free ingredients like potatoes. COMB is an option for those people who want 100% gluten-free ingredients.

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