This week we are going to do something a little bit different. We are taking a week off from the taste tests - don't worry, we'll be back at the reviews next week - to do a little cocktail education if you will. We are going straight to an expert to learn more about this canned cocktail movement and what to look for when picking a ready-to-drink cocktail.
Meet Melissa Test, head distiller at 10 Torr in Reno and a seriously awesome gal. She brings a background in biology plus ten years of home brewing experience to make some seriously magical canned cocktails for 10 Torr. And lucky for us, she agreed to dish with us.
Q: What SPARKED THE IDEA TO ADD CANNED COCKTAILS TO YOUR BEER AND SPIRITS LINE?
A: Our canned cocktails sparked when we were in the process of distilling the 10 Torr London Dry Style Gin. Gin is fascinating and the primary distinction of it, apart from other spirits, is the botanicals used during the distillation process. The method is not infusing these flavors, but instead introducing them in the still while the spirit is being made. This gives a very concentrated and well-rounded natural flavor. Because we love how these individual flavors are showcased we decided to use the same process with our vodka. A great example of this is our most popular flavor, Lavender Lemonade. There is both lavender and lemon extracts used to make individual vodkas. Meaning, we make a batch of lavender vodka and a separate batch of lemon vodka, and then we mix the two together. We do this for two reasons, 1) you’re getting a more concentrated flavor of each fruit/botanical and 2) we have better control of how much of each flavor we want in the finished product.
Initially you could say we made them out of selfish reasons . . . We don’t have time or the desire to bring along numerous ingredients to make a good cocktail while on the go.
Not only do we think the process and its results make the best product, but we’re also a team of outdoor adventurers and constant travelers. We don’t have time or the desire to bring along numerous ingredients to make a good cocktail while on the go. There’s nothing better than snapping open a drink that tastes fresh, is all natural and ready-to-drink as is. Initially you could say we made them out of selfish reasons, but they caught on to others fast. Our customers love that they can visit the taproom drink whatever strikes their fancy that day and also take home some products for their drinking pleasure in and out of the home.
Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN MAKING THE CANNED COCKTAILS?
A: We released our first three canned cocktails Lavender Lemonade, Cucumber Cooler and Torr Up Tea at our one-year party on June 10 th , 2018. Our Greyhound Soda came out a month later. So they are barely three months old, and we’re working on a spiced cider made with all-natural apple juice, cinnamon and brown sugar as a seasonal cocktail for the winter months.
Q: WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE LOOK FOR WHEN THEY ARE SHOPPING FOR A CANNED COCKTAIL?A: Every cocktail connoisseur knows that the key to a smooth, easy-to-drink cocktail starts with the foundation of a great spirit. With the new “everything in a can” obsession, and the fact the current market is overloaded with alcoholic beverages using flavored malts and not real spirits we saw an opportunity to offer something better. If you’re looking for a canned cocktail that is going to taste like you spent $12 at a trendy bar, we encourage you to look at the package for these types of things:
Is it a malt beverage?
For the sake of clarity, malt liquor is not actual an actual spirit. It is made from malt by fermentation rather than distillation, two completely different processes. It’s basically beer with a relatively higher alcohol content, but it is still not an actual spirit. Why do companies offer it? The simple answer is that it is cheaper to produce and because they aren’t stripping away those harsh flavors there is a larger volume of product to sell.
Does it have artificial flavoring?
Artificial flavors are simply chemical mixtures that mimic a natural flavor. It is used to cover up the harshness of the malt product in order to make it taste better. There’s no secret here. We all know the real thing tastes better and is better for you.
What’s the ABV?
Most cocktails are pretty boozy, so be sure to check the Label before casually throwing back a few. For example, our canned cocktails have about two shots of vodka in each can making it an 8% alcoholic drink.
Q: WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST EXCITED ABOUT THIS EMERGING CANNED COCKTAIL MARKET?
A: We’re most excited about the fact we’re in the beginning stages of this can revolution. Historically, anything canned had muted flavors and lower ABV’s. It seemed as though the industry couldn’t master the same taste as your favorite mixologist. That has now, thankfully, changed.
Q: WHAT MAKES 10 Torr DIFFERENT THAN SOME OF THE BIG GUYS IN THE SPIRITS INDUSTRY?
A: What most people don’t know is behind the scenes 10 Torr is owned and ran by a handful of engineers and biologist. We aren’t just using the best technology on the market, we’re the ones building and modifying it from scratch. Our hand-built, proprietary vacuum distillation process occurs at extremely low pressure (hence our name, 10 Torr). Most other spirit brands apply heat during the distillation process, which causes chemical reactions that create harsh flavors. We distill without heat thus eliminating these unwanted chemical reactions, allowing for a smoother, cleaner, finer tasting spirit. We are very proud of the fact we’re one of a handful of distilleries in the world that vacuum distills (also known as cold distillation), and the only one known to produce all products directly from grain to can.
Once people caught word of how good our spirits are, and we educated customers on the difference of our process, we saw immediate success. You see, everyone has his or her choice of spirit, which is mostly based off what brand they think is best or what they’ve repeatedly been exposed to. We are very grateful people are willing to challenge the vodka or gin they have been drinking for years because it’s those who are demanding more from their alcohol who we’re in business for.
Q: WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOUR COCKTAILS?
A: If you haven’t tried them yet, we encourage you to come to our taproom (490 Mill
Street – Reno, NV 89502) so you can try our vodka and taste all the flavors for free. Our taproom carries a large stock in the bar for take-home purchases and we also offer case specials.
If you’re out and about in the Reno/Tahoe area you can also get them at these local retailers:
- Total Wine & More – 6671 S. Virginia St., Reno NV
- Raley’s (Galena) 18144 Wedge Parkway, Reno NV
- Raley’s (Northwest Reno) – 1630 Robb Drive, Reno NV
- Ben’s Fine Wine & Spirits – 3480 Lakeside Drive, Reno NV
- Minden Meat and Deli – 1595 HWY 395 N, Minden NV
- Incline Spirits & Cigars – 120 Country Club Drive, Incline Village NV
- Raley’s (Incline Village) – 930 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village NV
- Dart Liquor (Stateline) – 148 US HWY 50, Stateline NV
This list is sure to grow at a rapid rate, so please check out the 10 Torr website for updated information.
And follow 10 Torr on Instagram for more behind the scenes peeks, drool worthy cocktails and the scoop on what is happen at their Reno taproom - hint hint: they have trivia nights AND food trucks!
10 Torr Taproom - 490 Mill Street Reno, NV 89502
Have you tried any of 10 Torr's cocktails? What did you think? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section. The more opinions the better! Let's "drink together" and share our cocktail stories.