Potatoes + water + master distiller creates winning combination at Pemberton’s Schramm Vodka Distillery
It’s a simple, but elegant equation. Take one master distiller, (grown up on the West Coast, and “cured” with a stint in Edinburgh Scotland earning his Masters of Science in Brewing and Distilling), organic potatoes grown 15km up the road that are too small for grocery stores (the “culls” of 5 varities of potatoes form what supplier, organic potato farmer Bruce Miller of Across the Creek Organics, calls the “vodka line”), and water from the glacier-fed Birkenhead River, and you have the world’s only certified organic potato vodka.
Is the hangover kinder and gentler? Alas, no.
But the footprint of this spirit is.
Just one year into operation, Schramm’s Vodka won Double Gold for vodka and Spirit of the Year Awards (in the clear spirit category) at the 2010 World Spirit Awards in Klagenfurt Austria in March 2010. In his reserved way, 33 year old Schramm says, “That was as good as we could have done.” The geo-thermal distillery, located in Pemberton, was built by Tyler and his two brothers, and the family come together once a month to hand-bottle 1500 bottles of the artisan-crafted spirit.
It might seem logical to make vodka in the Seed Potato Capital of Canada, but 98% of vodkas are actually grain-based, using corn or wheat. Traditionally, only the Polish made potato vodkas, and the process involves more work, and yields less volume of alcohol. 1200 pounds of potatoes makes 1000L of mash, which distills down to just 70 litres of alcohol. But Schramm’s thesis at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh focused on the complex art of potato vodka distillation to prove that vodka, considered by many of his university colleagues and professors to be an indistinct and tasteless spirit – could be just as rich and complex as a single malt scotch.
Looks like Schramm just got an A+.
At least the bar-tenders at Araxi, the RimRock Café, la Rua, Nita Lake Lodge, Elements Urban Tapas Parlous, the Fairmont Mallard Lounge, Ric’s Grill, the GLC, Caramba, the Firerock Lounge, Earl’s, Edgewater, Southside Diner and Monk’s Grill agree.