Start Small and Good Things Will Come
It is not going to stop with the 12 wines and 4 spirits for Quint and Cedar Ridge. Plans are in the works to construct a much larger building in the middle of their 10-acre vineyard. This new edifice will add needed space to the winery and distillery operations, allowing for the acquisition of a larger still, higher production of the established libations and the introduction of new spirits. Quint is already considering adding a gin using Wisconsin juniper, a raspberry cordial and a few flavor-infused vodkas to his line of products. As of January, 2007, Iowans have been the only ones who could enjoy Cedar Ridge's fine beverages, but within a few months residents of Illinois and Wisconsin will see them on shelves. Beyond that Quint has a wait and see attitude as to whether his spirits will reach a broader market.
The vodka produced at Cedar Ridge is as distinctly original as the luscious St. Pepin dessert wine, which is also crafted within the walls. ClearHeart is made from neutral grain and an eclectic light apple wine. The wine, using locally grown apples, is produced in the winery specifically for the vodka's base and even though it constitutes only 10% of the distillate and most of the apple flavor is lost during distillation, it adds a dimension to the finished vodka that is subtle, yet a delicate surprise for the established palate.
Time and dedication are employed in the distillation of ClearHeart as the distiller runs the distillate through the pot still three times with only 10 gallons to show for the hard work. Following the no heads-no tails rule that marks premium, handcrafted spirits, only the heart is kept after each pass through the still. This select distillate will then go through a charcoal soak prior to returning to the still for the next run. In total the distillate spends nearly ten hours inside the boiling hot still. Before bottling on-site, the vodka runs through a carbon filtration process twice, ensuring any leftover impurities are removed; after which it is diluted, using distilled water, transforming it from the 190 proof distillate into 80 proof vodka.
ClearHeart is like many other handcrafted, small-batch vodkas, if only for the fact that there is typically one aspect that sets it apart from other distillers' products. Here, the distinction is obviously marked by a delicate, sweet apple that can easily catch one by surprise. The apple is mysteriously unrecognizable in the clean, fresh fragrance, but slowly makes an appearance as it emerges from behind a silky bouquet that fills the palate. An equally smooth transition into the final, crisp explosion of delicate apple marks a short, refreshing finish.
Enjoy ClearHeart Vodka
Cedar Ridge Apple Brandy
Fermented and distilled on-site, Cedar Ridge Apple Brandy is made from Iowa grown apples and is the only one produced in the state. It is aged for six months in American oak barrels that once housed the distillery's wine. The finished brandy has a nice balance of fruit and oak, making a lovely addition to any cocktail.
A sensory experience filled with the delicate aroma of pristine apple blossoms is an inviting introduction to the thick, amber-colored brandy. The sense of sweet fruitiness increases in intensity as it rests on the palate to a full-bodied, silky texture with flowing waves of flavor that toggle between freshly picked green apples and robust, warm oak. A finish of equal veracity finds the fruitiness taken over by a surprising spicy, oak.
Enjoy Cedar Ridge Apple Brandy: