It didn't take the SILO Distillery long to get into the unusual. The barely-three-year-old Windsor, VT, distillery has announced the impending debut of Cacao Vodka, created with the aid of an older Vermont company.
SILO obtained winnowed cacao bean shells from Burlington icon Lake Champlain Chocolates -- which makes the Blue Bandana line of sweets -- and steeped them in its local-corn-based vodka to create the new spirit.
The initial batch of shells, from which the nibs used in chocolate making have been removed, is from Madagascar. Future batches may be sourced from other places on the globe. which could create a slightly different taste.
Chris Maggiolo, SILO head distiller, in an interview with the Vermont Fresh Network, said he came across Blue Bandana owner Eric Lampman at an Association for the Study of Food and Society conference at the University of Vermont a few years ago and, in an offsite tasting, "put Blue Bandana on my radar ... I love what they're making and how they're doing it. Chocolate came to mind while thinking of cold weather vodkas, but 'chocolate vodka' has a fabricated, almost fake, connotation. I thought about the chocolate making process and it occurred to me that the cacao shell likely retained a good amount of flavor."
A vodka release party, open to the public, is scheduled for 6 to 8:30 p.m. this Friday at the Hotel Vermont, 41 Cherry Street, in Burlington. It will be be a free public event. Lake Champlain Chocolates and SILO Cacao Vodka in-store tastings are scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the candy maker's Factory Store on Pine Street in Burlington.