Distilling Alumni Spirits

by Kristen Manieri | photos by Scott Cook

Vodka Distilling Co.

Success One Batch at a Time

Matt Anderson ’07

Founder, Enlightened Grain

A longtime bartender and skilled mixologist, Matt Anderson ’07 was keeping a watchful eye as the infused vodka movement steadfastly took hold in the spirit industry a few years ago.

Soon he had a DIY setup in his Winter Park garage and the beginnings of his organic, infused vodka, Enlightened Grain (EG), began to take seed. By 2010, his operation, finally legal, moved to Distillery Row in Portland, Oregon, widely considered the epicenter of craft distilling in the United States.

“We worked with three master distillers during the formulation of our spirits,” says Anderson, who brought a culinary finesse to distilling thanks to his time spent working in the kitchen at Chez Vincent in Winter Park. His first EG-infused spirit married Tuscan rosemary with Spanish lavender. “It definitely has a culinary spirit designed to complement savory dishes,” he says.

EG now produces a non-juniper gin infused with Earl Grey black tea, as well as Origin—the company’s wheat-based vodka.

Vodka is tasteless going down, but it is memorable coming up. Garrison Keillor

DIY Infusions

There are now dozens of infused and flavored vodkas on the market, but creating your own unique flavored vodka is much easier than most think.

Step One Start with your favorite basic vodka and pour it into a large, clean Mason jar with an airtight lid.

Step Two Choose a flavor—whatever fresh herbs, spices, or fruits you like.

Step Three Add your chopped ingredient(s) to the jar, give it a shake, and seal with the lid.

Step Four Give your culinary concoction a shake 4 times each day and infuse in a cool, dark place for 3 to 5 days.

Step Five Use a fine strainer to filter the vodka into another clean jar and store where you would normally keep your spirits.

Russians down nearly 13.9 liters of vodka per person annually.

7 Most Popular Vodka Drinks

1. Vodka Martini
2. Cosmopolitan
3. Bloody Mary
4. Black Russian
5. Vodka Collins
6. Moscow Mule
7. Screwdriver

How Is Vodka Made?

Vodka is made by fermenting sugary substances, most often grains, potatoes, and, in some cases, fruits. Distillers begin with three main ingredients: a starchy or sugary grain (usually wheat, rye, or corn), water, and yeast. The ingredients form a mash that is fermented in large stainless steel vats for two to four days while the yeast transforms sugars into ethyl alcohol. The distillation process eventually forms a liquid that has a 95-100 percent alcohol content. Water and, in some cases, flavors are added to make the spirit drinkable at the standard 40 percent alcohol level. Unlike wine or whiskey, vodka does not have an aging process, allowing it to be immediately bottled and shipped.

Park Avenue Pearl. The Alfond Inn.

Park Avenue Pearl

To make a Park Avenue Pearl, you’ll need a Martini Glass and a Cocktail shaker.

0.75 oz St. Germain
1.5 oz vodka infused with pear
0.5 oz simple syrup
1 oz grapefruit juice
Squeeze of lemon

Directions Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

All photos were taken at The Alfond Inn at Rollins. The Inn also provided all drink recipes, and all drinks featured are available at the bar and Hamilton's Kitchen. Net operating income from the Inn endows The Alfond Scholars program, which offers full scholarships to deserving Rollins students.

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