Last week, we published our first ever Fish Booze Friday review, putting a stiff spin on Andy Nabreski’s long-standing Fish Beer Friday reviews. In case you missed it, the booze of choice was Crab Trapper Whiskey from Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire. After an office taste test, we concurred that if there was ever an official booze for die-hard tautog fishermen, Crab Trapper is it.
“It’s definitely way better than sea worm whiskey.” – Andy Nabreski
“You can really taste the crab.” – Jimmy Fee
However, the OTW team hadn’t had our fill of shellfish spirits. So, right around 5 o’clock, we cracked open a bottle of the Industrious Spirit Company’s Ostreida vodka, which is distilled with… you guessed it, fresh oysters.
Oysters are essential to maintaining a healthy, balanced saltwater environment. Each individual oyster is capable of filtering over 150 liters (40 gallons) of water per day. According to NOAA, oysters feed on algae and bacteria by filtering them out of the water, like an underwater street-cleaning crew. This filtration process dilutes nutrients in the water, so too many oysters in one area can be just as detrimental as having no oysters at all. To find another use for these important mollusks, ISCO Spirits decided to utilize their filtration abilities to create an exceptionally smooth, slightly salty vodka.
The Industrious Spirit Company is based in Providence, Rhode Island, where they produce all of their spirits from scratch. Their hand-crafted Ostreida vodka, which was released in 2018, plays a surprisingly important role in the areas of sustainability and supporting regional/local shellfish farming operations. A portion of sales from each bottle goes to GreenWave— a non-profit organization that supports a network of regenerative ocean farmers—and each bottle of Ostreida vodka is tagged with the specific oyster farm and harvest location used to make that batch. Each 750mL bottle is only $40, although the bottle’s elegant design combined with the crisp, refreshing flavor profile will leave you thinking it costs double that.
Stirred on ice and strained, my glass frosted up and I tossed back the first sip like a freshly shucked oyster. My taste buds were met with a gentle, almost buttery vanilla flavor which, unlike many vodkas, finished smooth with a slight hint of saltiness reminiscent of the waters from whence the oysters came. Because the 100% organic corn-based vodka is distilled with oysters in the actual still, it is incredibly mellow and lacks the unpleasant burn that concludes the taste of most big name brand vodkas. And believe it or not, there is no fishiness to it. Instead, the delightfully briny opening flavor is rounded out with notes of earthy minerality that would make Ostreida a great base for a Bloody Mary, a vodka tonic with lemon, or a dirty martini. However, it might not be my number 1 choice for a Moscow Mule or a Gimlet.
Overall, this is an approachable vodka with a savory, creamy finish that can be enjoyed equally by the blue collar bass fisherman who just got off the water, or the clean-cut conservationist at a cocktail party. It’s like a low salinity, consumable sea water capable of giving you a buzz.
“It’s a nice vodka with a little bit of sweetness to it.” – Andy Nabreski
“… a little briny, but in a good way.” – Zack Zeytoonjian
“Taste’s like sweet victory.” – Robbie Tartaglia
And just in case you aren’t sold on the flavor, it’s worth mentioning that the used oyster shells are composted, and the spent grains are sent to a local farm to feed pigs and cows. Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a uniquely tasty, locally and sustainably sourced spirit that utilizes and protects our coastal resources, this vodka is for you.
The next time you toss back a few fresh oysters, bring the meal full circle and wash ’em down with a shot of Ostreida.
(If you have a fish-themed spirit you think we should try, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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