Hot peppers? Check! Booze? Check! What more could a Pepperhead ask for?
Now I’ve been to Galena, IL a bunch of times. There’s a shop there that has hundreds of sauces for sale so I try to get there as often as I can. Last weekend I discovered that they have a distillery there too (only been around for about 1.5 years) and along with gin, plain vodka and moonshine, they also produce a hot pepper infused vodka….of course I had to try it!
I’ve had pepper vodka before, hell I’ve been known to infuse my own bottle of Kettle One when the mood strikes me. This one is unique however. The label says it’s made using Illinois grown corn (I’m pretty sure they use wheat and rye like in their plain vodka too though) which automatically sets it apart. It’s then infused with jalapeno, habanero and peppercorns. Generally the store bought ones are peppercorn (Absoult) or jalapeno (many others). It’s also a gold color, just like homemade infused vodka, instead of the clear crap on the shelf.
The smell is straight forward; it’s vodka with some pepper to it. The taste is…well, it’s perfect. It’s pretty smooth with a nice hit of pepper flavor. There’s no mistaking what this vodka is. I tried a mixed drink at the distillery that had Rose Lime, Orange Pellegrino and something else and the pepper flavor still came out strong on top of all that. I made a Bloody Mary with it as well. Now I’m a bit of a purist; I don’t go for all the extra crap that bars like to put into the drink. Tomato juice, vodka, a couple dashes of Worcestershire, hot sauce if that’s my mood, and a dash of lemon juice; that’s all I want in my Bloody Mary (although I do love Uncle Dougie’s spicy mix, all natural and obscenely delicious with a nice little heat to it). Don’t give me a damn burger on it or a whole salad sticking out of it. Keep your damn celery to yourself and give me a little more booze in that cup! Sorry, I digress….
If you want vodka with major spice though, go a different route. I recommend infusing your own since most store bought stuff won’t do it for you. This is pure pepper flavor without any real discernible heat. However, that’s not a bad thing. We all have hot sauce and can add heat to our hearts content. It’s really hard to add the pure essence of pepper flavor, in this case mainly jalapeno and peppercorn, without the overwhelming everything else. This vodka does that masterfully. Because of this I’m thinking that the next time I make a batch of chili, I’m adding a little of the vodka to the batch.
If you find yourself in Galena, do yourself a favor and check out this vodka. It’s close to Wisconsin and Iowa so if you’re in those states, GO! Otherwise, the only way I know of to get it right now is to order from Binnys.com but they have shipping restrictions due to state laws and you may or may not be able to get it. Otherwise, for the love of all that is peppery, go infuse your own vodka with 4-5 peppers of your choice and a couple garlic cloves (leave it in the dark for about a week, strain it, drink up!). You won’t regret it.
Behold, the perfect balance. Jalapeño flavored vodka. The pure and righteous midwest grain paired with the wicked, indecent heat of the jalapeño, habanero and peppercorn.We have fused the two sides together to create this gem that might just be the cat’s pajamas. Grab a glass right meow. This stuff will surely fix your wagon.
Checkout Blaum Bros for more info!