Because of this spirit we had to read the words ‘spanked’ sage leaves in a cocktail recipe – and by extension so have you now. That being done this vodka is a bit of an oddball. There’s an almost botanical smell, but a sweet sugar like aftertaste. However that combo of uniqueness does have a very nice side effect. Which is how this mixes – always bringing some A-Game to cocktails. Although not ones with ‘spanked’ sage as we’d never do that.
As you’ve probably noticed due to the location of beers on the East Coast US, and the UK – we are much more an ‘Atlantic’ based operation. So when it comes to home-grown vodka there’s basically 2 options in the US. You either get something small and local to any region, or often something in Texas area that hasn’t been stellar. California though is intriguing, and it might be worth seeing how close that Pacific gap of quality is with other companies offerings.
What they Say: “In 2002, we began making our vodka in Alameda out of an old World War II aircraft hangar-a real place in California history. We make Hanger 1 one batch at a time, using rigorous distillation methods and the best ingredients that nature has to offer. Fine grapes are blended with Midwestern grains to create an exquisitely smooth vodka with a slightly fruity note.”
Taste: 7.0 – It’s a bit grainy/wheat tasting, but is overall nice and clean.
Aftertaste: 6.0 – If you did a blind taste test between a less agave heavy silver tequila – you’d fool more than a few. There is that creaminess that sets it as a vodka, but it comes with that sweet sort of backing. All that said – no complaints.
Burn/Smooth: 6.0 – There is a twinge of burn here, but it’s not hugely prevalent, and it otherwise goes down smooth. Plus there is a decent warmth on the backend.
Aroma: 7.5 – It has an almost gin like quality like a small bit of botanicals. It’s likely the grapes they mention adding that bit, but it’s overall really nice. You can get the bad vodka smell, but you need to dig deep for that.
Honesty: 5.5 – We will leave off the text of the little hanging thing as it’s possible yours might not have one. It’s mostly just tasting notes, a mapped, and 2 hipster cocktails (‘spanked’ sage leaves – really?). The problem is that while we appreciate the history, and the graduated cylinder look – they wank a bit.
Vodka Tonic: 8.5 – It’s adding more to the tonic instead of disappearing, this is oddly one of the better V&T’s we’ve had at the lounge,
Screwdriver: 8.0 – That is a tasty screwdriver.
Vodka Martini: 8.0 – There are vodka’s that bring more to the table in a martini, but a damn fine showing here.
White Russian: 8.5 – This sings in a Russian. It’s from California making it an ocean and more away from the motherland, but it matters not.
Value: 7.0 – So this does put Hanger 1 out of the range of anything you’d buy on a normal ‘fill your barstock/decanter’ day. However scores like that and a mixability like that puts this firmly in the Hammer + Sickle territory. While this is a bit smoother neat, more likely you should go for the Sickle if mixing, and Snow Queen if neat. Still though – damn good.
Google Shop Average: $28
Metric Score: 47.25/70 |+| Metric Average: 6.75 |+| Reviewer Average: 7.5
Final Thoughts: With a bullet to our head (not in a Russian gulag manner), we’d still go for a Hammer + Sickle for the simple factor of ‘how it looks in the bar’. There is however not a bit of shame here putting this up against your Snow Queen or Reyka. This is a vodka the America’s can feel proud about. Sure it’s not the best, not by a long stretch. It deserves that higher shelf though.