Earth’s Vodka

04 Nov 2014
4 min read
We chatted to Grand Teton Vodka’s Head Distiller, John Boczar about how their ‘flavourful and earthy’ potato-based vodka is created. He gives us FOUR exclusive cocktail recipes…

DescribeGrandTetonspirits in a FOUR words…

Flavorful, earthy, mountain stream.

How did the distillery come about?

As all good ideas start: with drinks on the patio. The genesis of our distillery started with an “off the cuff” comment from my step father while enjoying drinks with my mother on their patio in Tetonia, Idaho over-looking theTeton mountain range. They had a piece of property that they were planning on building an extended-stay hotel on HWY 33, our major thoroughfare, inTeton County, Idaho. They were only weeks away from breaking ground when some of the biggest downturns in the stock market happened in 2008. The extended-stay hotel plans were scrapped after careful consideration. The land, then, sat unused for three years. This is when my step father, Bill Beckett, asked on the patio, ‘if this valley is known for it’s potatoes, couldn’t they take those potatoes and make vodka out of them?’ Bill and my mother, Lea, did some research and found that due to many rule changes in the last 10 years, the TTB (the federal agency that regulates the production of alcoholic spirits) was allowing small craft distilleries to get DSP (Distilled Spirits Producers) licenses. The craft distilling movement was just starting to take off very similar to the craft beer movement thatwe’ve seen in the last 30 years. Being the savvy business entrepreneurs they have been throughout their lives, they had to make the “jump” and “put their money where their mouths were.” They had to see if a distillery was even permitted in Teton County and they wanted some local investment to truly make it a local distillery. The weekly paper ran an article about my parents’ interest in starting up this distillery and mentioned that they were looking for a local buy-in. They received 13 investors in only a week’s time. The locals were behind us.

Why potatoes?

We live in Idaho and the IDAHO POTATO is well known throughout the US. So why not Potato? Many people wrongly assume that most vodka is made from potato, but it accounts for only about 4% of the vodka sold. We hope to change those percentages as we grow.I’ll also let you in on a secret: many distilleries claim they have the “best ingredients” that they have “hand-picked” to give them their “signature taste.” Don’t believe the hype. At the end of the day, this is a production business and you can’t run a good business without ensuring that you have the best price for your raw ingredients. So youdon’tmake a product where logistics kills any chance at profit. You use local ingredients so you aren’t paying a fortune in shipping. Remember, distilling in America before prohibition wasn’t about the desire to make alcohol. It was about farmers needing to convert their unsold produce/grains into something that couldn’t go bad before getting to market.

How is each spirit completed?

I make the best product I know how to make. That is a great thing about starting a distillery ourselves. There was no one here to tell me I was doing it wrong. I’m a bit of a science nerd and one of the cornerstones of good science is writing it down. You have to take as manyvariablesout as possible so, I made sure that,throughcareful test batches, we only did very small changes to each batch to see what changed in our final product. After many test batches and a lot of very enjoyablecomparativetaste testing, we produced a product we thought was equal to anything were were testing against. We didn’t just put a product out there to get it onto the shelves, we made a product we were proud to bear our name. We had no idea that weweren’tjust as good, but even better than the products that we tasted against. Thenthe judges’ at the Beverage Testing Institute’s resultscame back with our first gold medal score which was only three months into our first year of production. We sent them one of our very first product runs to be judged. So, if you ask “how is a product perfected?” The best answer would probably be: through solid, scientific labtechnique. Or, you could say, “trial and error and a whole lot of luck.” At the end of the day, if I like it and am I am proud of it, I go with it and hope that others agree with me.

Which is your favorite spirit and why?

Obviously, it myGrandTetonPotato Vodka. It’ssuccesses have made all of this possible. I’m making a product here in the middle of “nowhere, Idaho” that is winning national awards and recognition. I would have never thought that were possible. I enjoy the smooth body that the potatoes impart into the alcoholand the mineralcontent of our water used for proofing that make for atrulysippablefinal product.



1.5 ozGrandTetonVodka

3 oz ginger beer

1 lime squeeze

Combine allingredientsin a copper mug over ice and enjoy the tangy zing.

TetonMoonshine Margarita


.5 oztriplesec orange liquor

1.5 oz lime juice

1 oz simple syrup

Salt for the rim

Combine allingredientsin cocktail shaker with ice. Shake till condensation forms on the outside of the shaker. pour into your salted rimmed glass. and the most important part -Enjoy on the patio with friends.

Apple Driver

One of my favorites and its simple

1.5 oz ofTetonApple Pie Spiced moonshine

3 oz of orange juice

Pour over ice

The orange juice just with its citric acid just makes the apple and spices pop on this one.

Huckleberry Sour

1.5 oz ofTetonHuckleberry Moonshine

1 oz simple syrup

2 oz lemon juice

Combine allingredientsin cocktail shaker with ice. Shake till condensation forms on the outside of the shaker.

Pour into glass with a nice orange cherry flag.

Find out more about Grand Teton Vodka