Review: Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka

Review: Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka

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

Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Flavored Vodka




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Misha on August 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Here are two great recipes using the Sub Rosa spirits:

    Miss Vicki
    1 1/2 oz. Tarragon vodka
    1 oz. Cointreau
    1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
    1 hearty pinch of fresh cilantro.
    Soda water

    Muddle cilantro and lemon juice in a shaker. Add ice, vodka and orange liqueur and shake vigorously. Serve in a chilled Collins glass. Top off with just a splash or two soda water. This a bit on the tart side. You can tone down the lemon a little if you like but don’t over dilute it.

    Moscow Mule via Mumbai
    2 oz. Sub Rosa Saffron vodka
    1/2 oz lime juice (drop in empty hull of 1/2 squeezed lime)
    4 oz. ginger beer
    lime wedge for garnish

    Pour the vodka and lime juice into a highball glass with ice cubes. Top off with the high quality ginger beer such as Stewarts or Cock ‘n Bull, not the sweet ginger ales and not Reed’s ginger beer (sorry) . Garnish with the lime wedge. For an aromatic Indian like twist, try dropping a Kaffir lime leaf in the drink that has been spanked between you fingers. You can also muddles a Kaffir lime leaf in the ice before adding the ingredients.

    You’ll find these spirits mostly in bars. They’re a bit esoteric for retailers, but Vintage Wine and Spirits in Mill Valley, CA might be able to ship them to you.

  2. Mr. Vodka Drinks on November 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Have been a fan of the Sandman Slim novels for awhile now and just seeing this Sub Rosa Vodka gave me chills down my spine. Absolutely cannot wait to try both of these and simply must have a bottle of each in the collection just for their superb good looks if nothing else. Awesome!

  3. Maritza on March 16, 2013 at 4:53 pm

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