Distiller magazine

Distiller_Summer 2014

Distiller magazine a publication of the American Distilling Institute, the Voice of Artisan Distilling; devoted to the craft spirits industry: vendors and distillers alike.

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62 distiller What? Hair tonic? Yes, historically speak- ing, you would apply some ver- mouth to your scalp if you have problems with your hair. Vermouth is a noun derived from the Ger- man word wermut, or wormwood. Medicinal herbs, one of which is wormwood, are contained in ver- mouth. Wormwood is known to help rid your hair from head lice. Wormwood was also used as a cure for stomach worms. Worms? Where are these worms? Are there worms in my belly? Wormwood? If you grew up during the 16th century, earlier or later, you almost certainly would have had worms growing in your belly. You also would have fleas and possibly even lice living on your head. is was the way of things before electricity gave us both refrigeration against food poisoning and shampoo against head lice. Nice! Traditionally, vermouth was made with wormwood as the active ingre- dient. is herb was highly bene- ficial from a holistic/folk-healing standpoint as a medicinal against infestations of the body. Many of our modern aperitifs and digestives had multiple pur- poses over their history. Vermouth was but one of the liquors that were originally used for one type of diges- tive or circulatory distress or other ailments. Fernet Branca? Invented as a stomach curative. Zwack? Again, this powerful, root and herbal-based liqueur was created to sooth mal- adies of the belly. Campari? Did you really think it was invented to get Count Negroni drunk? He may have had a bellyache from food poi- soning. at's much more plausible. Vermouth is a creative and inspired offshoot of the wine industry but is far from the pretentiousness that follows the wine world. Wine, once uncorked, has a very limited life and must be enjoyed quickly. Add herbs, roots, spices and fortify with alcohol, and what you have at the end of the day is something elegant, yet fun, … called vermouth. Vermouth may well have slipped into obscurity if it wasn't for the way that it complements the appreciation of food and calms digestion. What is vermouth? Vermouth is brightly fla- vored aromatic wine that has been treated with spices, herbs and roots of various intensities. ough it is fortified, it is not distilled. In the United States, there is a resurgence of vermouth as more than just a metaphor for drinking lighter. What vermouth represents to the drinker is passion, sip by sip. Vermouth is both slightly bitter and slightly sweet across the tongue, offering acidity, terroir and emo- tion. What vermouth represents in the modern American vernacular is both flavor and mixability. It is not just an afterthought ingredient in a dull and listless Rob Roy or a flac- cid Manhattan. You can do so much with vermouth in cocktails. It has come a long, long way since Martini and Rossi was served "on the rocks with a twist," as my [ Top ] Cinchona Bark used in making Vermouth at the Quady Winery, Madera California; [ Bottom ] Adam Ford, of Atsby Vermouth, reaches for a handful of quassia. VERMOUTH continues on page 64

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