Just a little Taste208 follow-up...

As I discussed in my most recent post, I was recently invited to attend Taste208 as a member of the media.  I was confused by this at first, as I don't really consider myself a member of the media.  Perhaps to a very small extent during my brief stint as a freelancer, but I was contacted regarding the event because of this site.  Even more interesting is the fact that I really only write about food here, and the emphasis of Taste208 was Northwest wines, beers and spirits.  Beyond knowing what I like, I don't know much about alcohol, so I figured this might be a chance to learn a thing or two.  Besides, I was so flattered to be invited that there was no way in hell that I wasn't going!

And that's how I found myself standing at the check-in table at the Riverside Hotel on May 12th.  I gave my name, which turned out to not be on the list.  Realizing that the person who had issued my invite had no way of KNOWING my actual name, I gave the name of my website, marking the first time I've ever been embarrassed by it.  My credentials now verified, I headed inside to do some serious tasting.

Here is where I prove that I am definitely NOT a member of the media.  I took no pictures during my time at the event, nor did I take down any quotes, or anyone's names.  I made no notes of any kind.  The main thing I can tell you is that the people peddling their wares were all friendly, knowledgeable, and more than generous in their sharing of anecdotes and samples.  I just want to drop a few recommendations so I can get back to being embarrassed and swearing to myself that I will do better if I'm ever afforded such an opportunity again.

Airfield Estates - This was the first table I visited.  I sampled the Runway Syrah, the Bombshell Red and, my personal favorite, the 2008 Aviator.  The Aviator is a Bordeaux-style blend, nicely balanced and surprisingly dry.  You can order it on their website for $35, and believe me the thought has crossed my mind more than once.

Tieton Cider Works - This stuff was a treat.  I love a good cider, and Tieton has stretched beyond the usual duo of apple and pear to cherry, apricot and several interesting blends, but my favorite was the plain apple.  I'll have to experiment a little more, but I think I may have found my new favorite hard cider, which luckily for me is available at numerous places in the Treasure Valley.

Dry Fly Distilling - These people make everything from wheat.  Wheat whiskey, wheat gin, wheat vodka, and wheat bourbon.  The first three were available to sample.  The vodka I wasn't a huge fan of (it had a sweet quality that almost reminded me of butterscotch), but I did enjoy the whiskey, which was reminiscent of rye but not as sweet.

44 North - This was probably the most surprising table I visited.  44 North makes the strongest flavored vodka I've ever had, but because the flavors are 100% natural, the results are infinitely better than the cheaper brands you'll find on the bottom two shelves at the liquor store.  Personally, I far prefer grain vodka over the potato variety, but the next time I'm craving cherry vodka I'm going straight for 44 North's version.  Those of you who are into the huckleberry thing would do well to check out that flavor as well.

Revolution American Vodka - This was the second biggest surprise of the evening.  These guys make hands-down the single smoothest vodka I've ever tasted.  As in it just disappears into whatever you add it to.  Not the best thing for purists or people looking to retain self-control, but if you're looking for the smoothest mixer ever or a vodka that goes down like water on those really bad days, this is the one for you.

Bakon Vodka - Not a surprise at all to me since I've been lucky enough to encounter it before, but I'm mentioning it because those of you who haven't need to quit stalling and try it.  It's not something most people would want to do shots of (it carries a premium price tag and tasted on its own has an extremely smoky flavor), but you will never find a better spirit for making Bloody Marys with.

I had a lot of fun at this event, and I learned a lot even if I didn't retain some of it due to trying all of the various things that I was being told about.  I did of course try other things than just the ones I've listed here.  Not everything unfortunately {I had to say "when" at some point), but a week later these are the main ones that stand out in my memory.  Check out some of the links, most of these are pretty small businesses and their websites will tell you where to find their products.  I hope we see a lot more of these types of events in the future since, after all, man cannot live on pork alone.  Trust me, I try it occasionally.

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