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Crater Lake Pepper Vodka

Crater Lake Pepper


By Robert Plotkin

Jim Bendis is one of the country's foremost craft distillers. His distillery—Bendistillery—is located on a 24-acre farm in Bend, Oregon, affording him easy access to fresh ingredients and pristine spring water sourced from the nearby Cascade Mountains. Few of the spirits Bendis handcrafts is more unforgettable than Crater Lake Pepper Vodka, a nearly combustible spirit loaded with fresh pepper character and invigorating heat. There are hotter spirits on the market, but few that possess the vodka's delicious, skillfully balanced flavor.

Here's a spirit brimming with kinetic energy. Bendis makes the vodka on a foundation of neutral spirits distilled from corn. He then slowly infuses the spirits with 5 different varieties of sweet and hot peppers, including habeñaro, serrano, Anaheim and red and yellow bell peppers. Following distillation, the vodka is rigorously filtered through crushed lava rocks and rendered to 40% alcohol (80 proof) with fresh spring water.

The vodka is a veritable homage to beauty of all-natural heat. It has a pale golden hue, a satiny, medium-weight body and a wafting vegetal, spicy, and peppery bouquet. Its aromatics are quite fetching and lure you right in. Moments after entry, the vodka's collective heat begins to grow in lip-tingling intensity, stopping just short of becoming fissionable. The palate features a broad array of peppery, fire-roasted flavors that reside just behind the heat. The vodka's finish is remarkably long and satisfying. Kudos!

Crater Lake Pepper Vodka was seemingly created with modern mixology in mind. It's hard to imagine a better vodka to feature in a custom-made Bloody Mary. In fact, it will perform like a charm in any cocktail searching for a Scoville rating.