November 5th, 2011 by Jim

Perfection in Vodka? Point to CLIX.


Can you smell what Captain Nemo is cookin'?

Drive a couple hours up 65 north from Music City, take a right at the E-Town exit and you’ll eventually end up in Frankfort, known for backroom budget deals (you did know Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky, didn’t you?), beautiful rolling hills and bourbon. Lots of bourbon. That’s where the fine folks at Buffalo Trace have been turning out the delicious amber elixir since 1773. Not satisfied with just making tasty barrel-aged brown booze, master distiller Harlan Davis Wheatley did what many a citizen of the Commonwealth has done before him, he built himself a still.

But this ain’t your grandpappy’s wood-fired claptrap built behind the family cemetery. This precision beast, built of copper, stainless steel and unadulterated vodka-making mojo, looks like a Jules Verne undersea travel machine. And it was built for one purpose, to make perfect vodka. The result is HDW CLIX. The HDW being the initials of the evil genius behind this concoction, and CLIX being the Roman Numerals for 159, which none of us would have otherwise known until we had that many Super Bowls.

Why 159? Because that’s how many separate times they distill the stuff. Why do they distill it 159 times? Because it’s one better than distilling it 158 times, fool. They even claim proof of the vodka’s perfection with some fancy, high-dollar words: “Extensive oranoleptic testing and sophisticated chromatography confirm the results – we achieved the perfect vodka.”

What does that mean? I have no idea. But it sure sounds impressive. Almost as impressive as the bottle, er, “custom hand-formed decanter” made from lead-free crystal that looks like something you’d buy at Tiffany. It took 10 years for them to make 2,000 bottles of HDW CLIX. Are you getting the impression that they’re proud of the stuff? Damn right they are. And it is reflected in the price. Because it is expensive. Like Belle Meade trust fund expensive.

Dab a little on the neck before a night on the town.

From Harlan himself: “Producing high quality spirits is a passion for our distillery, so when our team set out to craft the world’s finest vodka, we knew we couldn’t stop until we created something truly special. We began with hand selecting only the highest quality grains of rye, wheat, corn and barley and then distilled them to produce precise characteristics desirable in vodka. It was a diligent process that resulted in 159 separate distillations. We are proud of what we achieved and we are excited to share this unique vodka experience, with a fortunate few, that is unlike any other.”

So if you’re celebrating the completion of that new 12,000 sq. foot pad you built on that tear-down lot on Chickering Ln., get a couple bottles for the party. And invite me over. I gotta try this stuff.

–Jim R.

Want more information on HDW CLIX? Head over to their website.


New Spirit, Vodka

One response to “Perfection in Vodka? Point to CLIX.”

  1. Jake Fantom says:

    A very good friend bought me a bottle of this vodka for my birthday. First things first. The “distilled 159 times” stuff is pure rubbish. If you read the literature carefully, you will see that what they mean is that they make the vodka out of many small batches, each one distilled 5 times. So they are multiplying the number of distillations times the number of small batches to arrive at that inflated figure. This vodka is distilled 5 times, period. Next issue: the stuff tastes awful. This is really weird because it is very very smooth, but there is an oily taste, like you get from cheap Mezcal, and an awful lingering aftertaste that is somewhere between rancid butter and rusted metal. Neither my friend who bought the bottle, nor I, could finish even a small glass. The burled wood box is nice, and the bottle is nice too, although very difficult to pour from because of its awkward size and weight. This emperor is truly not wearing any pants.

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