This past weekend, my Wife and I participated in The Florida Cane Distillery’s “Distilling Experience”. It’s a new program for 2015, developed by the Florida Cane Distillery to showcase their new moonshine and gin products along with their original vodka distillations.
This free experience can be booked online at their website. You can also book vodka only tastings if that is your preference.
The tasting room is open to the public on Friday and Saturdays. The room holds up to 22 people, with seating available at a beautiful wood topped bar and several tables.
Last year, we had participated in a couple of vodka tastings and the launch of their Sunshine Moonshine. This past weekend, we attended specifically for the availability of Florida Cane’s new Tamiami Florida Gin.
Like their other products, Tamiami Florida Gin uses a base of sugar cane along with local ingredients sourced from nearby farms. Unlike a typical London Dry gin, this spirit has notes of tangerine and cucumber along with the expected juniper berry which gin is known for.
The Distilling Experience lasts about 30 to 40 minutes and is comprised of two cocktails and some single spirit tastings.
Our first cocktail was a riff on the Vesper, made famous by the James Bond novels. The ingredients were Tamiami Florida gin, Cane Vodka’s premium vodka and Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif wine. The cocktail has good balance and really showed off their gin well.
The second cocktail was a variation on the Moscow Mule. This cocktail was comprised of Cane Vodka’s Key West Lemon Lime vodka and ginger beer. The cocktail was smooth and had a great aroma. The lemon-lime flavor cut some of the ginger beer’s bitterness and made for a great tasting cocktail.
Next up was a sampling of one of Florida Cane’s Sunshine Moonshine products. This evening, we enjoyed the “Sunrise” blend which is made from the spices of a fresh baked apple pie, vanilla and a hot pepper kick on the finish. At 109 proof, Sunshine Moonshine packs a punch with some great flavors. There are three other moonshine blends and all of them are based in cane and corn with other natural ingredients. Late last year Florida Cane also came out with a Limited Edition small batch Sunshine Moonshine called “Timeless”. This spirit is based in corn and grain, yielding a more typical moonshine flavor.
The final tasting was a shot of the popular Florida Cane Orlando Orange vodka. What makes this vodka unique is the use of orange rinds for flavoring instead of orange pulp like many other distillers use. If you shake a bottle of Orlando Orange, you will notice the orange oils cling to the glass bottle. Those oils also create a foamy head that really opens up the orange aroma.
My Wife enjoys the Orlando Orange straight with just a bit of ice. She says it is just like a Screwdriver cocktail without the orange juice. I must admit I have never been much of a vodka fan but, these sugar cane based vodkas have made me change my tune. The Orlando Orange and Weeki Wachee Watermelon are our personal favorites.
At the end of the tasting, you are allowed to purchase two bottles of spirits per person. I completed my evening’s mission by picking up a bottle of the Tamiami Florida Gin to add to my home bar. I’m looking forward to putting this spirit through its paces with some of my favorite gin based cocktails.
At the end of the evening, I was talking with Pat, one of Florida Cane’s co-founders and the host of this particular tasting. He mentioned that later this month they will officially debut Tamiami Florida Gin, possibly at Ciro’s, a popular “speakeasy” Tampa bar. He also mentioned the possibility of an “Old Tom” gin distillation that I think sounds like a great idea.
I have always enjoyed these tastings and this fourth time out was no exception. If you live in the area or are here on vacation and you’re looking for a unique spirit tasting experience, you owe it to yourself to book a seat at the tasting room.