The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2013

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Page 38 of 149

BRAND SPOTLIGHT This Farmer's Terroir DAVID SOUZA GROWS HIS OWN SWEET POTATOES FOR CORBIN ESTATE VODKA David Souza reflects on an estate sweet potato. by Meridith May / photos by Tom Clark W hen David Souza is not wearing the hat as marketer and brand ambassador for his vodka brand, Corbin Estate, he is wearing a widebrimmed fedora or possibly an old baseball cap. You see, he needs shielding from the sun as his day job is harvesting sweet potatoes off the family farm in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California. The next day, Souza may be wearing a chef's toque, as he fires up the oven to cook his sweet potatoes, getting them ready for fermentation, and the next week, their trip to the distillery. "We taste every gallon before it is bottled," he tells THE TASTING PANEL, in reference to his small batch vodka, which truly is farmto-table in every sense. Souza rises every morning at 4:35 a.m. and heads off to the sweet potato field, a fourthCorbin Estate Vodka generation family farmer received a Gold Medal at on the Atwater, California the San Francisco World estate. The vodka is named Spirits Competition. after his only son, Corbin. "He's only two, and not a farmer yet, but someday . . ." At 8 a.m. he's in the distillery, tasting. "We raise ten varieties of sweet potatoes," he explains, and use a blend of the best four or five." Souza looks for uniformity in size and shape in these sweet potatoes grown in sandy soils and uses drip irrigation. They are cured for 12 to 16 months and aged in temperaturecontrolled buildings to keep out any humidity, while maintaining sugar content and flavor components. His water source is a 300-foot-deep natural spring on the estate. The resulting profile of the vodka offers up a nose of recognizable sweet potato charm . . . just pass the marshmallows. The palate opens up with a viscosity unlike most vodkas, gripping the flavor in its density while allowing a natural acidity to be expressed. The finish rounds out in its authentic ingredient: fleshy textured sweet potato with an elegance on the tongue. Here's a man who stays true to his (tuberous) roots. Corbin Estate Vodka is distributed exclusively by Hillside Wines & Spirits in South California and Regency Wines Nevada in Las Vegas. july 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  37 TP0713_034-65.indd 37 6/24/13 5:40 PM

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