American vermouths are the new(er) kids on the block. They are the upstarts that are causing the old school brands to wince a bit. Whereas the European vermouth makers are somewhat constrained by law and must include wormwood in their ingredients, the American vermouth producers are not limited by the rules. Some are more classically styled, such as the Vya vermouths, but others are taking on a whole new approach and flavor profile, such as Uncouth Vermouth.
Quady Vya (Whisper Dry, Extra Dry, Sweet)
Of this group of new school vermouths, this is the grandfather of the bunch. Andrew Quady started making vermouth in California’s Central Valley in 1999. All the vermouths use wine made from the Orange Muscat as the base. They make two dry styles with the Whisper Dry vermouth being the most delicate, softer, and less herbaceous than the Extra Dry and is intended for the martini to be paired with gin and vodka. The Extra Dry is a more powerful dry vermouth with herbaceous notes. In addition to the Orange Muscat, Tinta Roriz is also blended into the sweet vermouth. It’s a combination of bitter, sweet, warmth from spices.
Atsby (Amberthorn, Armadillo Cake)
This is an East Coast vermouth made in New York state. Both vermouths use North Fork chardonnay as the base and are fortified with apple brandy. There is an apple quality to both that comes through in the herbs and spices. The Amberthorn is made with anise, lavender, and basil and is a rich, aromatic vermouth. Not to be pigeon-holed by old descriptors like dry and sweet, this is a "summer-honey-colored vermouth" and is the lighter of the two. The Armadillo Cake is made with dark caramel with herbs and bark as well as less traditional ingredients. It’s a more spicy vermouth.
Of the new school bunch, Uncouth Vermouth is one that is really pushing the boundaries of vermouth. Bianca Miraglia makes her vermouths in Red Hook and she's committed to producing sustainably-focused vermouths using ingredients that are foraged or purchased from local farms. She doesn't add sugar or preservatives either and any sweetness in her vermouths come from wine or fruit. Her unique flavors vermouths include: Apple Mint, Pear Ginger, Butternut Squash, Beet Eucalyptus, Serrano Chile Lavender. There are no rules in using these vermouths.
Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth
Designed to be simply sipped over ice, Imbue's vermouth has a classic balance of sweetness and bitterness that results from Oregon-grown pinot gris, Clear Creek Distillery's pinot gris brandy, and nine dried raw botanicals. The result is a vermouth with floral and citrus notes along with herbs and spices.
Matthiasson Young Mill Sweet Vermouth
Winemaker Steve Matthiasson's first vermouth production came from a problematic few barrels of wine (made from the Flora grape) that over-fermented. This batch of sweet vermouth is a little more deliberate. His batch number two is a non-vintage blend of the Flora from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 vintages along with blood oranges, sour cherries, coriander, cardoons, chinchona bark, wormwood. and blessed thistle. Once this one is gone, it will be a few years before you'll see the next one.
Massican Vermouth di Friulano
Winemaker Dan Petroskiat Massican winery in Napa first made a vermouth with the 2011 vintage and liked it so much he added it to the lineup. He uses barrel-aged Tocai Friulano as the base along with Indian coriander, orange peel, lemon rind, nutmeg and quassia wood. It’s floral and herbal vermouth.
Ransom Dry & Sweet Vermouths
Since Ransom produces both spirits and wine, producing vermouths is a bridge between both disciplines. Their sweet and dry vermouths are made with a stunning number of botanicals, a blend of wines used as a base, and a house-made brandy. The dry vermouth has citrus and floral aromas with notes of baking spices and the sweet vermouth has rich, sweet cinnamon and nut flavors with bold root notes.
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