I went to the Adirondack Wine & Food Festival at the end of June and usually I make my regular stops at the wine and whiskey booths but for some reason I was drawn to Saratoga Courage Distillery and I’m so glad I was.
Saratoga Courage Distillery was founded by Holly and Serge Shishik in 2013 in Greenfield Center, NY. Holly and Serge started their careers as pharmacists but eventually realized their passion was to create locally made spirits and Saratoga Courage Distillery was born. Serge and Holly noted the water source found under their current location and jumped on the opportunity to purcahse the property when it was for sale. It’s not just the water that makes this so special but the location of the distillery itself. With the distillery at the foothill of a mountain range, an area called Devil’s Den, this water becomes mountain filtered and picks up minerals along the journey. The water source is truly what makes Pick Six vodka special.
Pick Six is an award-winning vodka and there’s quite an amazing process that makes Saratoga Courage Distillery vodka better than its competators. It all comes down to how it’s perfected.
They take the GNS (grain-neutral spirit) which starts out at 190 proof and add it to 1400lbs of water to stir for 30minutes. The perfecting, though, comes in next. Their natural spring water naturally has levels of calcium and magnesium that refine the spirit and makes the vodka drinkable. Next in the process is to take those naturally occuring elements out by pushing the product through 13 carbon cartridges through an almost reverse osmosis. Do that 6 times and the vodka gets that silky smoothness that you look for.
Vodka is judged on 4 things: fragrance, feel, flavor, and finish. For smell, it should be clean. Vodka shouldn’t have a smell and if it does, you’re smelling those imperfections that the distillery hasn’t taken out. Feel, it should slide over your tongue which comes from the quality of their water. Flavor, vodka has a flavor and since this is a corn-based vodka you’d expect there to be a bit of sweetness on the tongue. Last, is finish, and most importantly you don’t want the vodka to burn which, again, comes from the quality of the water used.
The beauty in Saratoga Courage Distillery that I honestly believe makes it an amazing company and product is that everything is done by hand. Sure, some of the processes are automated but at the bottom line, the bottles are cleaned by people, the bottles are filled via machine by people, labels are placed by people and if you add that to water from right here in Capital Region, could you get anymore local than that?
Serge sadly passed away in 2016 after a fight with Lung Cancer. Being in the distillery though, you can still feel his presence inside. Maybe it’s because he built the building it’s housed in himself, maybe because his family still runs the business – whatever it was, the buisiness is flouishing and all because of his amazing dream.
Below, I put my Mother, the vodka drinker of the household, to the test. Pick Six’s biggest competator on the market is Tito’s Vodka. They’re similar in that they’re both distilled 6 times and corn-based but Tito’s doesn’t have the water source that Saratoga Courage does. I put them to the test, in a blind taste test see which my Mother (who usually orders Tito’s as a go-to) thought of the comparison.