Nope not a RUM but to match perfectly with our Hellfire Rum of the Month, a Hellfire Vodka!
And not just any vodka, only 1 of 2 Vodka’s made from potatoes in the Southern Hemisphere and one of a handful in the world. PLUS it’s also won gold medals internationally – including Best Australian at the World Vodka Awards in 2022 and Gold at the San Francisco Spirit Awards in ‘23.
Now to make exceptional vodka from potatoes (it takes 15kg of potatoes to make 1 litre of vodka) you need lots of potatoes and it just happens that Hellfire Bluff are located at one of the largest potato farms in Tasmania and Hellfire Bluff Distillery was initially built by the Daly family in order to diversify their potato farm business by using the 20% of potatoes that are rejected for sale simply because they ‘look funny’ (and subsequently passed off as cow fodder).
Thanks to ‘ugly’ potatoes they now make Vodka…and make exceptional vodka they do.
Trust us – this is NOT Vodka as you know it.
Now I have to admit, I thought most vodka was made from fermented potato mash – however that isn’t the case anymore. Most of the world’s vodka production relies on grains such as corn, rice, wheat and barley. However, vodka can be distilled from any agricultural product containing sugar or starch. Starchy alternatives like potatoes, and beets are suitable choices. According to the (US) Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, vodka is defined as a “neutral spirit distilled or treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials,” and it must be “bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).”
These days Potatoes are pretty much the exception in vodka production – and as such, I know many Rum Tribe members have probably never tried a potato vodka (I certainly hadn’t up until just a few weeks ago. That’s for sure). And let me tell you – I have been absolutely amazed to discover that vodka doesn’t have to be a completely neutral spirit, stripped of any flavour other than the taste of ethanol.
The thought of sipping it neat had never even occurred to me. The Hellfire Potato Vodka has completely changed this guys preconception and I honestly feel like
I’ve just discovered something completely new!
This is NOT vodka, as you know it. This is an oily and floral, and fragrant spirit.
So what’s the difference between potato vodka and a mass produced grain vodka? And as head distiller David Gesch (Hellfire Production Manager) points out – potato vodka is very much a ‘varietal vodka’ rather than a neutral spirit. Each potato variety will give different flavour profile to the spirit.
Potatoes, as a source of sugar for the yeast, is a problem in itself. Grains contain an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugars the yeast can then turn into alcohol. No such enzyme exists in potatoes and so Amylase must be added.
The Batch 63 we are featuring this month is made exclusively from the 2023 ‘Pink Eye’ potato crop from paddock 27. Distilled in a single batch column still it comes out of the still at around 88%abv.
Our Tasting Notes
Look – I’ll be honest and admit that this is totally new to me. There are so many new smells and flavours here that I’ve not come across before – I’m not sure how to describe them as I usually do. I’ll actually start by saying when you put some on your fingers and rub them, it’s a noticeably oily sensation – and that definitely translates to the palate – it’s rather viscous. This is unlike any vodka I have ever tasted. On the nose I get everything from creaming soda to fresh butter. The palate is noticeably oily as predicted and there are definitely earthy notes here that I can’t quite pin down. The finish is surprisingly long – I did not expect it to linger like it does.
It’s a different spirit then I’ve ever tried. It’s definitely NOT vodka as I knew it. It’s sippable neat (and no, I don’t mean shot-able, I mean sippable!) and absolutely SMASHES in an Espresso Martini!
- 30ml Coffee Liqueur
- 30ml Potato Vodka
- 10-15ml Simple Syrup
- 1 shot of espresso
- Coffee Beans (garnish)
Combine all ingredients. Shake well over ice, strain into coupe glass, garnish with coffee beans.
From Hellfire Distillery
Hi Rum Tribe,
This is where it all began… the love and dedication found in every bottle of Hellfire Vodka can be traced right back to the day our first potato crop was planted.
This traditional style spirit is one of the few of its kind made in Australia. Crafting quality vodka from paddock to bottle can be a demanding and arduous process, however the flavour profile of the resulting spirit makes it extremely worthwhile.
Hellfire Potato Vodka is a varietal spirit, fermented directly from potatoes grown on the same farm on which our distillery rests: a true paddock-to-bottle experience. Just like how grape harvests vary to create diversity in wines, the seasonal shifts in potato crops give us natural variation in our vodka for subtle and interesting shifts in nose and palate.
This batch showcased at The Rum Tribe is from Pink Eye Potatoes, a delicious creamy potato variety that Tassie is fiercely proud of. The same creamy taste shows itself in this vodka. The nose reveals buttery banana bread while the palate is smooth and rich with subtle warm spice. Every bottle is hand-written to show you the potato variety and paddock we harvested from.
While best enjoyed neat or over ice, Hellfire Vodka is still very versatile in cocktails. Our favourite is a Moscoe Mule. The earthy & spicy aroma of ginger pairs beautifully with the vodka flavour, while the mint & lime cut through for an overall vibrancy and freshness.
With your support we can continue to have the dream on utilizing our whole crops that our farmers work so hard to grow.
Our Potato Vodka has a rich and buttery flavour profile, with a warm and spicy finish, crafted using the pristine local Tasmanian rainwater and potatoes harvested from our farm. We work hard to ensure our farm becomes sustainable by using our ugly potatoes in spirits for you to enjoy. Our proudest point is using the pristine Tasmanian rainwater and potatoes harvested from our own farm.
Our cellar door is always open on the southeast coast of Tasmania, We hope you can come say hello to us one day soon!
Ruby & The Hellfire Team
About Hellfire Distillery
Perched above the rugged expanse of Hellfire Bluff on Tasmania’s southeastern coast lies Daly Farm, the birthplace of Hellfire Bluff Distillery. More than 30 years ago, the Daly family hand-planted their inaugural potato crop, a humble beginning that now sees them supplying potatoes to retailers across Tasmania.
Unconventional as far as distillery origins go, their journey unfolded as they pursued a dream of crafting distinctive spirits and adding value to the potatoes cultivated on their farm.
The distillery’s inception marked the introduction of their premium Potato Vodka, a traditional-style spirit that stands out as one of the few in Australia crafted from potatoes. This unique creation earned them the title of Best Australian Varietal Vodka at the 2022 World Vodka Awards.
Fueling their passion for crafting top-tier spirits, Hellfire Bluff Distillery expanded its repertoire to include small-batch Tasmanian Gins, highly coveted Liqueurs, Ready-to-Drink offerings, and cool-climate Tasmanian Rum. Emphasizing quality ingredients, the entire product line utilizes pristine local Tasmanian rainwater harvested on the farm. Along their journey, Hellfire has garnered acclaim at esteemed national and global competitions, amassing over 40 medals, 17 of which are gold. Notably, their Summer Floral Gin secured the title of Australia’s Best Contemporary Gin at the 2021 World Gin Awards.