Mixed Case: Collections

Twelve Tasty Sips

Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent ‘adult beverage’ discoveries by the dozen.

Whether you’re perusing a bar menu while traveling or stirring up a cocktail at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.

By Hope S. Philbrick

In this column, we review spirit collections from three producers.

Khortytsa Vodka

Khortytsa Vodka Thanks to Global Spirits and Savannah Distributing, Khortytsa (Hor-Ti-Tsa) Vodka is now available in the state of Georgia; according to Drinks International, it’s the third largest selling global vodka brand at 6.4MM cases. Ukraine’s Khortytsa Distillery was named among the world’s best distilleries at the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition.

The Khortytsa Distillery is located in Zaporozhe near Khortytsa Island, an ancient island considered one of Ukraine’s seven wonders. Built in 2003, the Khortytsa Distillery uses a local organic filter containing schungite (a unique natural mineral) which allows it to get as close as possible to the structure of natural water. The filtration process is further enhanced with special birch and alder-tree charcoal and quartz sand sourced near the famous Crystal Mountains of the Urals near Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Currently, there are four products within the Khortytsa line that are imported to the U.S., and we sipped them all.

Khortytsa Platinum is the most popular product in the line. It’s a clean and elegant example of what vodka should be with a mild burn and soft notes of alcohol and grain. Retails for approx. $14.

Khortytsa Ice, which is specially formulated to be frozen—the bottle transforms from frosted white to blue when cold, a neat trick if you can figure out how to fit your party into your freezer—has a clean taste with slightly more grain notes than Platinum. The label claims this vodka is made “with natural flavor added,” but doesn’t reveal what those flavors might be. We sensed a slight adhesive note on the finish. Retails for approx. $14.

Khortytsa Honey Pepper is a golden-hued spirit that offers a spicy zing. Unlike most pepper vodkas, this one tastes natural rather than manufactured, with genuine vegetable flavors. It’s very hot, so we enjoyed it best on ice or mixed into a cocktail such as a Bloody Mary or vodka margarita. Retails for approx. $14.

Khortytsa De Luxe, aimed at vodka connoisseurs, is a “super premium” vodka. It also has “natural flavor added,” but tastes crisp and clean. It’s also clean to sniff, without burn in the nose. On the tongue it starts with no burn and builds heat as it sits in the mouth, a pleasantly paced build-up that adds dimension to this spirit’s sophistication. Retails for approx. $26.

Muddy River Distillery

Located in Belmont just 50 yards from the “muddy” Catawba River, Muddy River Distillery opened in 2011. The first rum distillery in North Carolina, owners Robbie and Caroline Delaney built their business from the ground up, from the reclaimed distillery floors to the custom-built stills to the handcrafted rum recipes. Their passionate and aim to make “the best damn rum you’ll ever taste.” Muddy River Distillery produces a range of products for its own label as well as clients’ labels. We sipped four:

Silver Carolina Rum is an award-winning smooth spirit that can be enjoyed straight up, on the rocks or mixed into a cocktail. The first whiff is of caramelized sugar; the first sip is sweet and then builds to a pleasant burn. Retails for approx. $20.

Coconut Carolina Rum has a more viscous mouthfeel than its plain siblings and offers up flavor notes of suntan lotion and spice with a long, pleasant finish. Retails for approx. $22.

Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Carolina Rum is aged in American oak barrels to achieve it’s golden hue and complex flavor of caramelized sugar meets spiced almonds. Retails for approx. $30.

Paw Paw Murphy’s Moonshine has a clean mouthfeel and whiffs and tastes of burnt sugar and corn whiskey. Retails for approx. $30.

Bloomery SweetShine

SweetShineSince opening as a mini-distillery in September 2011, Bloomery Plantation Distillery has been capitalizing on the craving for locally sustainable craft distilleries, the nostalgia for the Prohibition-era spirits, and the explosion of fruit flavored liqueurs through its hand-crafted, award-winning SweetShine line. With a sweet spin on moonshine, the company makes moonshine drinkable through its award-winning liqueurs that are hand-crafted from farm-fresh fruits, roots and nuts.

Inspired by limoncello savored during a trip to Italy in October 2010, the owners became enamored with making limoncello from scratch. After some success with that endeavor, they decided to open a mini-distillery in Charles Town, W.V. Having won over 20 international awards for its line collectively, they expanded into producing a variety of SweetShines, from chocolate raspberry and more. Bloomery’s all natural SweetShine uses time-honored recipes with 190 proof ‘shine, pure cane sugar and garden-grown ingredients. The entire process is hand-crafted, from the hand-zesting of lemons, to the hand-chopping of ginger, to the hand-picking of raspberries, to the hand-making of its syrups, to the handwriting that goes on every bottle of every label. We sipped four products and our verdict of them all is that these are refreshing and sophisticated, no ordinary ‘shine.

Passionately Playful Peach is peachy sweet with a playful kick of lemon. An enjoyable sip on its own, it also mixes well into summery cocktails. Retails for approx. $25 for 375ml.

Irresistibly Refreshing Cranberry Clementine sits more lightly on than tongue than the peach SweetShine and serves up balanced notes of its namesake fruits. Retails for approx. $25 for 375ml.

Mischievously Spirited Pumpkin Spice tastes like “everybody’s” favorite seasonal latte, but without the coffee or the cream. Or like a liquid version of pumpkin pie. This is a seasonal must, enjoyable on its own or mixed into a cocktail. Retails for approx. $25 for 375ml.

Bravely Bold Black Walnut won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Dark and assertive, it boasts an addictive kick of bitter flavors. Retails for approx. $25 for 375ml.

Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.

Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.

Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.

HopeP_144Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. She’s written about wines and spirits for more than 10 years. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.


  1. Delightful read! Your particular touches and writing style especially, but I do like finding Renee Gordon’s writing in new places too.

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