The designation “farm-to-table” will always receive a Bourdainian side-eye from me. It’s one of those oft-used, food-adjacent phrases like “craft,” “handmade,” and “gourmet” that are intended to evoke a specific feeling while not necessarily meaning much of anything at all.
And so, here we have Beattie’s Distillers, whose slogan prominently displayed on the front label is “farm-to-bottle.” Founded in 2015 by fifth-generation potato farmer Ken Beattie, the Alliston, Ontario-based distillery grows and harvests its own crops, produces its own distillate, and packs and ships its own product. So, true farm-to-bottle, it seems. But what of the vodka?
Let’s try the two expressions on offer.
Beattie’s Distillers Potato Vodka – The nose on the base offering is clean yet not medicinal in the least. Rather, it’s lightly vegetal with a note of freezer-temp vanilla bean ice cream. That ice cream persists onto the palate but there’s additionally an earthy undertone, like that of a cherry pit or almond skin. It’s pleasant, surprising, and gives the pour a bit of grist, some texture to cling to. The finish is fresh cracked black pepper. It’s interesting enough to stand out in a martini but deserves to be tried chilled on its own. Delicious. 80 proof. A / $22
Beattie’s Distillers Sweet Potato Vodka – It’s worth noting that while this expression is advertised as being made with sweet potatoes specially selected from the Beattie farm, the provided sample is labeled as “sweet potato flavored,” containing both natural flavors and stevia. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine this change, or change of labeling, had an impact on the bottle’s inherent yamminess. The nose as well as the palate are all gentle sweet potato, vanilla extract, and caramelized syrup. It’s a rounder, softer pour than its more traditional sibling, but perhaps because of the natural additives, or the lower proof point, it’s also less engaging. A more conventional, cocktail-ready vodka. And a testament to the craft that goes into the standard farm-to-bottle offering. 60 proof. B / $22