Just down Main Street (a.k.a. U.S. Route 1) some other geniuses at Maine Distilleries are working on a different cure for what ails you: Cold River Vodka, 80-proof, made from mighty Maine potatoes (not grain, like most vodka) and the same aquifer tapped by Poland Springs Water. Though Cold River is less than 10 years old and produces only about 5,000 cases a year, its vodka has won awards, commendations from connoisseurs and a small but loyal following in the 26 states (plus western Canada and London) where it is sold. It has not yet found its way to California.
Production starts with making the mash, a sort of thick potato soup that is left to ferment and then boiled or distilled, yielding highly concentrated alcohol or ethanol as a byproduct. The distillation process at Cold River is done in small, carefully-monitored quantities, resulting in an impeccably clean, impurity-free alcohol that is cut with water, then flavored with spices for gin or fruit for blueberry vodka.
Of course, nothing is added to the distillery's signature, unflavored vodka. Upstairs in the tasting room I found that it pours like liquid glass and tastes way too precious for mixing. Given the choice between a Cold River Vodka martini and pair of gum rubber boots in a duck blind, I'd take…well, just guess.
Freeport Visitor Information, (800) 865-1212, http://www.freeportusa.com.
L.L. Bean, (800) 441-5713, http://www.llbean.com.
Maine Distilleries, (207) 865-4828, http://www.coldrivervodka.com.