Latest Long Island potato vodka debuts

The folks at Long Island Spirits Inc. have unveiled their first product: LiV (rhymes with 5) potato vodka, a truly unique product made in what usually is known as wine country.

I reported last September that co-owners Richard Stabile and Dan Pollicino were shooting for a January debut for their product. But in any startup operation, a few months' delay is no surprise.

The original announcement said LiV would be made from a combination of local Marcy potatoes and upstate winter wheat. However, the product as presented is distilled strictly from potatoes. It is being sold at a suggested retail price of $38 for the 750ml bottle and $44 for the liter bottle. The first year's production will be limited to 5,000 to 8,000 bottles.

The distillery is located in a barn set on an 80-acre potato farm in Baiting Hollow in Long Island's North Fork wine country.

The company says it crushed more than 150,000 pounds of Long Island potatoes for the initial release. The vodka is crafted in custom-made, twin 650-liter copper stills from Germany.

“There are three different primary boiling points during distillation and what is released during this process is known as the heads, hearts and tails. Unlike some other distilleries, our artisan distillers discard the heads and tails, keeping what can be considered the filet mignon of the spirit," co-owner Stabile said.

"We actually go one step further by taking extremely tight cuts on the hearts, which creates an incredibly smooth taste profile.”

On Long Island's South Shore, the late, lamented Peconika company that used mainly local potatoes for its product, went out of business in 2004. Hamptons Vodka is headquartered in Westhampon Beach but its 100% yellow corn vodka (20% of which comes from Long Island), three different flavored vodkas and gin are made in the Midwest. Owner Ronnè Bonder originally hoped to build a distillery on his property there, but local government red tape proved too much, although he kept the name on his labels.

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