The USA are probably well-known for their whisky and bourbon more than anything else. But some of the other drink categories are making a charge, with gin names such as No. 209 and Death’s Door coming over the Atlantic, as well as wine brands such as Firesteed and Napa Cellars and craft beers Brooklyn and Blue Moon featuring in many a bar. These are all relatively new, being brought out and released to much fanfare and admiration, but the USA market of anything but whisky may never have got a look in from distributors around the world if it wasn’t for an early 90’s vodka brand – Skyy.
Founded in 1992 in San Francisco by a gentleman named Maurice Kanbar, who had a vision to create an exceptionally smooth vodka. Coming before the likes of Belvedere and Grey Goose, and hot on the heels of a vodka boom during the 80’s with the rise of the Cosmopolitan cocktail, Maurice pioneered the innovative quadruple distillation, triple filtration process that would redefine industry quality standards. With this production method, he was able to achieve his goal of creating a smooth vodka and naming Skyy as a super-premium brand in the process. Skyy formed a partnership with Gruppo Campari, one of the biggest drink companies in the world, which would not only help it expand across the globe, but also give it the recognition Maurice Kanbar gave towards helping fund arts and educational institutes, as well as its many accolades over the years.
So how is it created?
Actual production and bottling of the product is conducted within the Frank-Lin Distillers Products in San Jose, California, whilst the distillation process is housed within a plant in Pekin, Illinois. It’s here that it’s distilled using the four column stills, before undergoing the triple filtration. The water used during the production process is the local Californian water.
So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Skyy – 40%
Clean on the nose with a slight dryness near the end. Smooth on the palate, with a developing sharpness that delivers a warm yet short finish. Second sip does last a little longer though.
Not too bad on its own, but maybe ask your bartender for one of these –
60 ml Skyy
30 ml Passion fruit liqueur
30 ml Campari
Splash of sugar syrup
Dash of fresh lemon juice
Pour all ingredients over ice and stir. Garnish with an orange slice.
Skyy have also branched out into the flavours market, with names such as citrus, raspberry and passion fruit available here in the UK (there are many more available on your travels including ginger and moscato grape), as well as Skyy 90, created for the connoisseur of Martini and bottled at the slightly higher 45% abv. Maurice hasn’t done a bad job at all, and i personally think he’s created a pretty smooth vodka. Try it for yourself, after all, there’s a reason why it’s won awards including silver in the San Francisco Spirits Competition.
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