Sun 10 Jun 2007
We all have dreams, right? Some people dream of success in politics or sports; others dream of winning Nobel Prizes in literature or medicine. Some people dream of reaching the pinnacles of romance and love and desire or of starring in films and becoming household names. And then there are the people who dream of being famous for no discernible reasons.
Paul McCann’s dream was to make potato vodka in Richmond, Virginia.
And why not? If Pritchard can make rum in rural East Tennessee and Anchor can make gin in San Francisco, why shouldn’t Paul McCann be able to make vodka in Virginia. And so he did.
His company is called Parched Group and the vodka is Cirrus.
Now I will be the first to admit that I have never seen the point of vodka, except as a chaser to caviar, and there a thimbleful of ice-cold vodka is far superior to even the finest Champagne. But vodka, originally distilled from potatoes but legally made of any sort of grain or combination of grains, was for centuries the bath-tub gin of spirits, the fiery stuff distilled in the backyard or the back room or the barracks to satisfy the alcoholic needs of desperate hordes. How vodka became the iconic symbol of sophistication and the main prop of the Cocktail Nation is beyond the comprehension of one who prizes the infinite nuances of gin and the fathomless depths of scotch. Vodka’s advocates tout its mixability, a trait others may call mindlessness.
Still, vodka cannot be ignored, as new labels seem to be introduced every week, each one rigorously emphasizing aspects of frigidity, purity and perfect transparency. The texts on the bottles frequently boast that the vodka inside was distilled five times and filtered five times, sometimes through such materials as diamond dust or virgins’ blood. (I made that one up.) The idea is that the best, the most expensive, the so-called “super-premium” vodkas should have no nature whatever except for smoothness.
Cirrus, I’m happy to say, actually displays character. Rather than being made in a continuous still, the process by which most vodkas, even so-called super-premiums, are made, Cirrus is made in a traditional copper pot still, in which it is distilled three times. I don’t know how to describe its scent other than to say that it smells like snow; if you live in the North (I spent the first 10 years of my life in Rochester, N.Y.,) you’ll know what I mean. Then there’s a touch of citrus, a whiff of black pepper, a hint of some astringent white flower. In the mouth, the texture is smooth, to be sure, but almost cloud-like in softness and volume. The main thing is that Cirrus neither smells nor tastes like a doctor’s office, which is the flaw of many vodkas.
Suggested retail price for Cirrus Vodka is about $22, but inevitably production and distribution are limited. Check the company’s website — Cirrus — and ask Paul McCann when Cirrus will be available in your state.