You have to appreciate a company that wants to do some good in the world, even while it’s getting people liquored up. FAIR (technically “FAIR.” with a period) bills itself as the first Fair Trade-certified spirits manufacturer. Based in France, the company offers a vodka and two liqueurs. We tasted them all. Thoughts follow.
FAIR Quinoa Vodka – Distilled from quinoa (you know, the up-and-coming grain) grown from 1200 independent farmers in Bolivia, then sent to Cognac, France, where seven distilleries go to work on the stuff. It’s a very surprising spirit, full of flavor and definitely on the sweet side. Ample coconut and banana notes are right up top, with a creamy, burnt sugar finish. No heat here. This is a solid spirit for any sweeter cocktail — but perhaps too sugary for sipping straight. 80 proof. B+ /$30
FAIR Cafe Liqueur – Made from fair trade coffee grown by some 1900 farmers in Veracruz, Mexico and sweetened with sugar from 800 growers in Malawi. Coffee comes in hundreds of different varieties, so why not coffee liqueurs, too? FAIR’s coffee liqueur is immediately nutty on first sniff — with fresh peanut butter aromas wafting from the glass. If you’d told me this was some kind of nut liqueur, I’d have believed you. After a bit, the coffee finally comes through — light in body, rich with the aforementioned nuttiness, and toasty. Quite sweet, but a curious departure from the Kahluas of the world. B+ / $20 (375ml)
FAIR Goji Liqueur – If you’ve ever sampled a goji berry, the aroma is difficult to describe, but it’s perfectly replicated here in this grenadine-colored liqueur. Sweet and sour, but not sickly in the way that cough syrup is, FAIR Goji Liqueur lives somewhere in the world of black cherries, cranberry, blood orange (juice and peel), and juiced raisins (whatever juice is left in them). Complex and intriguing, it’s tailor-made for cocktailing (and should be used as an alternative to PAMA, should you find yourself in a recipe that includes it. Not exactly a spirit for straight sipping. Made from berries sourced from 300 Tibetan farmers and sweetened with the aforementioned Malawi sugar. 44 proof. B+ / $22 (375ml)