Foothills Vodka (Gluten Free)
Review: Foothills Vodka (82/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 14, 2016
Foothills Vodka is produced by Highwood Distillers from selected corn grain to ensure the product remains wheat and gluten-free. The spirit is produced from a batch style distillation, distilled ten times for maximum smoothness and purity.
To ensure Foothills Vodka could be labeled as ‘gluten free’, Highwood Distillers sent samples of this Vodka to an independent laboratory for analysis. The spirit was found to meet all of the Heath Canada Requirements (which are quite rigorous) and their documentation has been accepted by the BCLDB & AGLC (British Columbia and Alberta Liquor Boards).
As part of my review process, I held a Vodka tasting for my friends (the Rum Chums) where we sampled three other new vodkas (Norvegia, Tryst and Provincial) in a tasting flight with the Foothills Vodka. I served the spirits chilled where we sipped them each neat, swallowed shots, and sampled each with a variety of foods. We finished the tasting with some cocktails made from each spirit. Comments from my friends often make it into my reviews.
Foothills Vodka is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
First Impression 8.5/10
As noted in previous reviews, I prefer to snap my own pictures rather than use standard bottle shots. I think that my photos lend an authenticity to my review. Unfortunately, vodka bottles are extremely hard to photograph, especially in the winter when my back deck is covered with ice and snow. I tried to snap a few photos, but the dreary winter background was so unflattering that decided instead to use a stock bottle shot. (Fortunately I did snap a photo of the bottle with my suggested cocktails down below.)
The gluten-free vodka arrives in the tall, slender long-necked bottle shown to the left. The tall bottle implies elegance and the cork seal at the top hints that the spirit is meant to be premium spirit set to compete with the likes of Belvedere and Grey Goose. The boast on the front of the bottle of the 10x distillation reinforces that impression.
At my tasting one of my guests commented that she felt the graphic on the front of the Foothills bottle was subliminally suggestive of a buxom lady dancing. The rest of us were slightly bemused, but after taking a second look perhaps my guest was on to something. Nevertheless, we all liked the bottle which we felt elevated the spirit.
The First Sip 16.5/20
It was a very cold day in January when I held my tasting event with my friends to compare the different vodkas. I took advantage of this and left the Vodka spirits on my back deck to chill for three hours before my guests arrived. When I poured the Foothills Vodka, the spirit had cooled to about 2 or 3 degrees Celsius. At that cold temperature the spirit was thickened and slightly creamy. The breezes above the glass were very clean with subtle hints of creamed corn and a very mild spiciness.
As we sipped, we noticed that the corn-like sweetness was firmer than the nose would have implied and it was accompanied by impressions of black licorice, vanilla and a mild butterscotch. These impression grew quickly as the spirit warmed. I was surprised as I was not expecting a 10x distilled product to gain so much flavour so quickly.
Taking a Shot 16.5/20
Initially everyone at the tasting felt the Foothills was quite smooth. However, some of us began to notice a light burn which accompanied the swallow. There was also an unusual aftertaste which seemed to carry a light metallic bitterness combined with flavours of corn and vanilla. Fortunately the mild burn did not increase in strength as the spirit warmed, nor did the light metallic aftertaste.
The score in this part of the review amounts to whether or not the flavours expressed by the spirit are appreciated or not. The guests around my table were divided. Some liked the light corn sweetness and vanilla, other felt it detracted from the shot experience. (I was firmly on the fence.)
Out for Dinner 16/20
At my tasting I served pepperoni pizza, lightly spicy pepper pot soup, fresh french bread, a variety of cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, and jalapeno infused Monterrey Jack), mini smoked wieners and some salty crackers. I began by taking a small sip of vodka and then tasting some bread and cheese. The mixture tasted very nice with bread, butter and cheese all seemingly much tastier. The vodka however, quickly lost its cohesiveness with a light metallic flavour arriving in the aftertaste. A similar experience occurred with the spicy and salty foods. The food tastes better paired with the vodka, but the vodka itself expresses some unwanted metallic and vegetal flavours.
Cocktail Hour 24.5/30
The final part of my examination (and that of my guests) was to serve the Foothills (and the other vodkas we were examining) in a typical cocktail to see how it fared. The cocktail I chose at my tasting was a modified Cosmopolitan. In my mind, a good vodka allows the citrus and fruit to express themselves in the cocktail which should be lightly tart and completely refreshing.
When I made the Cosmo with the Foothills Vodka, I (and my guests) noticed that it was significantly sweeter than the cocktails made with the other vodkas at the tasting. That corn-like sweetness was expressing itself in the cocktail. The citrus and the cranberry were slightly diminished and the mixed drink was less flavourful as a result. I found a similar theme when I mixed a Gimlet (Vodka Daiquiri) for myself later.
I decided that the route to follow was to mix the Foothills Vodka with Highwood’s Empire London Dry Gin in Vesper style cocktails. The dry gin helps to temper the light sweetness of the Foothills Vodka and the results were extremely nice as you can see by my suggested recipes below.
Final Score 82/100
A vodka which is acceptable in all aspects, but lacks any exceptional attribute.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
Vespered Lime Gimlet
1 1/2 oz Foothills Vodka
1 oz Empire London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/8 tsp Sugar Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Strain into a nice cocktail glass
Garnish with a Lime slice
And of course enjoy responsibly!
Vesper (with lemon peel)
1 1/3 oz Foothills Vodka
2/3 oz Empire London Dry Gin
1/3 oz Vermouth
coil of Lemon Peel
Add the vodka, gin and vermouth into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Double Strain into a chilled martini glass
Add a thin coil of lemon peel
Of course, you should enjoy responsibly!
If you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!
You may (loosely) interpret my score as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Vodka. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are preferable.
85-89 Excellent! Shots or cocktails!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)