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LiV Vodka

Just at the very beginning of Long Island’s North Fork is a town called Baiting Hollow. Like many towns on the North Fork, Baiting Hollow is charming, rustic, and full of wineries, including the not-so-surprisingly-named Baiting Hollow Farm Winery. I’ve visited that winery and will have an article about it, too, but about 100 yards away from the winery sits Long Island’s only vodka producer, the LiV distillery, pronounced with a long i to rhyme with five. LiV vodka is made with potatoes, which is a nice callback to the days when the North Fork’s cash crop was potatoes instead of grapes. We were told at the distillery that they share the crop with North Fork Potato Chips, which are fantastic kettle-fried chips, very tasty, so it speaks well of the quality of potatoes.

Bottle of LiV vodka, with blue label on clear glass

Long Island's Original LiV Vodka. Image courtesy of the LiV press kit. Shout out to forward-thinking companies with press kits!

The distillery has a tasting-room, which, one might imagine, is very popular. They give away a LiV-branded double-shot glass to take home as well. On site, they were selling their vodka for $13.99 for 750ml, an insanely great price. I have yet to come across LiV in my local liquor store to know what it sells for retail. $12.99 for 200ml. (See note below.) The LiV website has a map (not Flash-based, thankfully) showing where it’s available locally. So far, they offer it in six states, plus D.C.

For under $15, this is a great vodka. It’s not as smooth as some triple-distilled vodkas, but if I may have a moment to confess: I find most vodkas extremely boring. If I wanted to drink rubbing alcohol, I could save myself a lot of money by buying a tub of it at a drugstore (please note: never drink rubbing alcohol—this is a sarcastic comment on the lack of character of most vodkas). However, the LiV vodka has a subtle, almost-vanilla flavor to accompany the burn, and the burn isn’t as strong as cheap faux-Russian vodkas, like Georgi or Smirnoff. This is a vodka that I could safely add to delicate cocktails without producing off-flavors, and it’s strong enough to add to something like a Bloody Mary, giving it enough kick to let us recognize that it actually contains alcohol.

The LiV distilleries also produce a brandy, which, unfortunately, I cannot find on their website. But I got a chance to try it in their tasting-room. It’s made with local grapes, and it’s killer. The nose is all turpentine, but a swig of it is like licorice-fire. During the tasting, it was compared to grappa, and it was smooth and frightening at the same time. A few others at the tasting couldn’t get past the smell, so I was lucky enough to “taste” a few shots worth of it. I know it’s available in bottles on premises, but I’m unsure if it’s available elsewhere.

LiV also makes a line of liqueurs called Sorbetta, which are flavored and sweetened forms of their vodka. In general, I found the citrus flavors (lemon, lime, orange) were fine, but the strawberry and raspberry were a bit too candy-like for my tastes—others at the tasting seemed to like the raspberry. The Sorbetta are sweet and would probably be great in a beginner’s cocktail. If I owned a bar, I might keep them on hand, but they’re not for me.

It’s been Long Island month here at DnU and I doubt that will change much in the near future, because it’s exciting to find local producers of excellent products. But I’m not exclusionary: I’ll invite in booze from all corners of the world, and I look forward to trying it all. Still, a locally produced vodka for less than $15 that’s actually drinkable? I’m a lucky, lucky fellow.

Update Nov 20: Thank you, Rich Stabile, owner of LiV, for commenting and correcting an egregious error on my part. The 750ml bottle of LiV vodka goes for $35.00 in the tasting room. I regret the error, which I attribute to hazy memory on my part, due to multiple tastings of that wonderful brandy. (return)


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5 Responses

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  1. fervere says

    I just found a bottle at Path Liquors in Coram for $29.99. Now that’s too much. I don’t think I’ll be making Path Liquors my local.

  2. Richard Stabile (Founder) says

    Hello, my name is Rich Stabile owner and founder of LiV Vodka. Thank you for the article, I just need to correct one major error in the article which is the price of our 750ML at the Tasting Room which is $35.00, we sell our 200ML size for $13.00. The price you are paying at Path of $29.99 is a great price!!!

  3. fervere says

    Thank you, Rich, for the comment. I’ve updated the pricing.

  4. Richard Stabile (Founder) says

    My pleasure, really enjoyed the article. Let me know next time you come out and I will coordinate a behind the scenes tour of some of the other exciting things we are experimenting with…

  5. Brian Blue says

    Great news to hear about a dedicated distillery for a Gluten Free Vodka. Several years ago, I tried a different brand of Potato Vodka and was surprised I had a reaction from it. After studying the manufacture process of a lot of distilleries, I realized many of them have made other batches of different types of alcohol on the same equipment, and my reaction came from cross-contamination from sharing the equipment with grain based ingredients.

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