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September 24, 2017

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Move over fruit, meat-flavored vokdas are moving in

WASILLA, Alaska -- Prepare your palate for carnivorous cocktails.

The Alaska Distillery in Wasilla just recently launched its Smoked Salmon Flavored Vodka, about a year after the Seattle-based Black Rock Spirits introduced a bacon-flavored vodka.

Both savory spirits were intended to complement Bloody Marys, but are finding wider uses among mixologists.

"I think there was some madness and some drunkenness involved, honestly," said Toby Foster, an Alaska Distillery partner and the one charged with coming up with new flavors with Alaska themes.

Foster's intent was to market a local vodka which would stand out among the numerous other bottles on the liquor store shelves.

"I was trying to think of something Alaskan. What's more Alaskan than smoked salmon? It was one of those epiphanies, I suppose," he said.

The idea turned out to be the easy part. Finding the right formula was a little more challenging.

Foster and Scotti MacDonald, another partner, said the current formula took 48 tries, and some of the first 47 attempts were downright disgusting.

"Definitely the first few times we had our heave bucket close by," MacDonald said. "It was pretty bad, and you know, greasy."

"But once we got it down and honed in on where the real secret was in making this, it was fun and games after that," she said.

Vodka is the highest selling spirits category in the country, and in the last five or six years, flavored vodkas have been taking off, said Danielle Eddy, spokeswoman for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Fruit flavors were first, followed by vegetables and herbs - even a Russian garlic vodka.

"In the past few months, Bakon Vodka came out on the market. However, smoked salmon vodka is the most unique that we've heard of," Eddy said by cell phone from Scotland, where she was attending an industry event.

"Bacon does lend a nice umami flavor, it's that richness," she said. "Smoked salmon is going to add that same type of richness, but from a lighter perspective."

The five-year-old Alaska Distillery uses all Alaska products when it can: grain from Delta Junction, potatoes from the Matanuska-Susitna valley, glacier ice from Prince William Sound, and now salmon caught in the Gulf of Alaska.

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