You can keep your citrus, your chocolate, your Asian pear flavored vodkas. Sub Rosa strikes out for more uncommon ground, with two flavored spirits: Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka.
Crafted in Oregon and available in limited distribution domestically, these are unique vodkas unlike anything else you’ve ever tried. All natural, high-end stuff, as Sub Rosa notes, no essential oils are used in the infusion: This is just herbs and spices suspended in vodka. Both come in hot at 90 proof.
Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Flavored Vodka (Batch 6) – A curious color far unlike the wild orange of Boudier’s Saffron Gin, the light yellow/green color instead recalls Yellow Chartreuse. The nose: Surprisingly mild, vague spice character. On the palate, a shock to the senses: Completely savory, saffron, anise, and licorice notes — and none of the sweet finish, the norm for infused vodkas. The infusion includes far more than saffron — with cumin, coriander, and five other spices, this is closer to a gin than a flavored vodka, and I’d primarily suggest using it as a gin substitute. Not for the faint of heart, the savory character rumbles along with a long and lasting finish, fading away almost like a mild curry. I mean that in the best possible way. A- / $30
Sub Rosa Spirits Tarragon Flavored Vodka (Batch 5) – Slightly greener, with a clearer herbal character on the nose. Clear licorice character on the nose, and stronger on the body. (Fennel and mint are also used in the blend.) Tarragon is a relatively little-utilized herb, and that’s a shame. Here it offers the intrigue of a Thanksgiving meal, plus a return of some of that lightly sweet licorice kick in the end. Quite different than the Saffron vodka but equally delightful. A- / $30