Now You Can Have Your Lox On The Rocks

First came bacon-flavored vodka. That inspired Scotti MacDonald and her husband to come up with a vodka with an Alaskan twist. After 48 tries, they produced smoked salmon vodka for their Alaska Distillery. MacDonald tells Michele Norris how the drink is made.

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F: salmon-flavored vodka. Sounds fishy? Well, that's the idea. Alaska Distillery wanted to create a vodka that would honor the 49th state.

Well, Scotti McDonald is the vice president of Alaska Distillery and she's based in Wasilla, and she joins us now from Anchorage. Welcome to the program.

: Thank you, Michele.

: Why did you decide to do this?

: We wanted to make sure - and have a unique product that would be able to be available to be people, and hit that niche market that we weren't able to get to with our other vodkas.

: Now, Scotti, I have a bottle right here in the studio with me and it does, indeed, have that lovely salmon coloring. How do you get the salmon flavor into the vodka?

: We take our salmon filets. We pulverize it into small pieces. We put it into a huge vat. We go ahead and mix that with some high-concentrate ethanol. We leave it for about a week; it tends to vary depending on how much smoke the salmon has received. And we taste it from time to time to make sure that it's seeping correctly. And then when we feel that the process is done correct, we go ahead and we cold filter it, and put it into bottles and put it to market.

: Now, since I have it here, it seems like it's a shame to just talk about this vodka. I've brought in two taste-testers to sample some of your salmon-flavored vodka. I'm just opening up the bottle while we do this, and I'll introduce both of them.

: Sure.

: Loren Jenkins is not only our foreign editor - can you get that, Loren?

LOREN JENKINS: Yeah.

: He's not only our foreign editor but he's also a discerning connoisseur of fine beverages. I believe that, Loren, you provided the glasses for this taste test. And we're also joined by Katie Daugert. She's a research librarian, and she knows a thing or two about salmon. She actually worked on a commercial salmon fishing boat. So you're both going to take a quick test. Loren, can you do the pouring for me?

(SOUNDBITE OF GLASS CLINKING)

: Okay. All right. That's a full glass there.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLASS CLINKING)

: Okay. And Scotti, now - you note that this is best enjoyed in a Bloody Mary. But we decided that we wanted to keep this pure, simple.

: You know, it's kind of like a good gin. You don't really just drink gin by itself. You have, you know...

JENKINS: Oh, some of us do.

: But there are many people who drink...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: You're talking to newshounds here. There are many people who...

: Okay. All right. All right. Well, go for it.

: Okay. Loren, you first. What do you think of that?

JENKINS: Well, surprisingly, I like it. You do taste the smoked salmon. It tastes good.

: Um-hum. So, thumbs up from Loren Jenkins. Katie Daugert, what do you think?

KATIE DAUGERT: It's very unusual. I think it's actually not bad. I didn't expect to like it at all. And I think it's not bad. It's kind of fishy. I can see how it would be really good in a Bloody Mary.

: And Scotti, that's the way you say it should best be enjoyed, in a Bloody Mary, yes?

: That's right. We've done lots of road shows, and we have the exact same response from people, you know, when they go to taste it. They hold it in their hands, they kind of mull over what they're about to do and when they finally, you know, plug their nose and down the hatch, they are pleasantly surprised. Sometimes we garnish it with asparagus or, you know, give a little bit of a shot of pickle juice in there to give it a little extra, tangy flavor.

: I'm sorry. You had them until you said pickle juice.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Well, thank you very much for speaking with us. All the best to you.

: Thank you, Michele - and Loren and Katie.

: That was Scotti McDonald. She's the vice president of Alaska Distillery. That's the maker of a salmon-flavored vodka. And we were joined here in the studio also by Katie Daugert, one of our research librarians, and our foreign editor Loren Jenkins. Thanks to both of you.

JENKINS: Thank you, Michele.

DAUGERT: Thanks so much.

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