November 10, 2020
WFH Cocktail Break with Ransom Sweet Vermouth
Ransom Wines & Spirits, founded by Tad Seestedt in 1997, is an artisan winery and distillery located in McMinnville, Oregon. Tad named the operation Ransom to represent the debt incurred to start the business; Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream.
Ransom Sweet Vermouth harkens back to the flourishing cocktail culture of the Belle Époque, when joie de vivre filled the air, and vermouth made the evolutionary leap from charlatan snake oil and disguised refuse to a distinguished mainstay of the era’s most popular drinks: the Martinez, the Martini, the Marguerite, and the Manhattan. As a revival in the mixing of these classic cocktails encouraged us to bring such endangered spirits as Old Tom Gin back into production, we yearned for an aperitif with the aromatic complexity and grace to complement our spirits. So began the era of vermouth at Ransom.
Ransom’s production of vermouth is the great bridge between their winemaking and distilling trades. Beginning in the winery with small lots of aromatic white grapes, Tad Seestedt carefully ferments and blends wines of elegance and character. Tad employs traditional techniques to maximize varietal expression, such as fermenting Gewurztraminer on the skins, making botrytised Riesling and employing carefully controlled oxidation of wine in barrel. Taking a cue from classic European vermouth houses, they employ a solera system, which allows consistency and complexity to maintain similar across vintages.
In the distillery, he alambically distills and barrel ages brandy from the house-made base wine for fortification. Next, the vermouth is infused with a blend of aromatic botanicals divined through five years of trials. Sweetened ever so slightly with a blend of Muscat grape juice, maple syrup and turbinado sugar and gently filtered before bottling. While this is an original recipe, the Ransom Sweet Vermouth is based on the classic formula that is rooted in flavors of wormwood and quinate bark. It lends depth, complexity and elegance to cocktails both classic and modern.
Voted Top 100 Spirits for 2020 by Wine Enthusiast
The Tasting Panel - 92pts (3/1/2015)
“With a list of 24 “home-grown” and imported botanicals on its label, the dream sequence of flavors skips across the tongue. Some standout notes include sarsaparilla, cinnamon bark, black mission figs and cacao nibs. You won’t want to wake up.”
Wine Enthusiast - 90pts (11/1/2016)
“Packed with citrus and dried fruit, this bold, tawny-orange vermouth has a scent that suggests dried orange peel and dried fig, while the palate mixes grapefruit, orange and honey. The herbal finish is redolent of warm chamomile, cardamom and baking spice.”
Try it in a cocktail!
1.5 oz Ransom Whipper Snapper Whiskey
1 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Bordiga Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake ‘till chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a twist of orange rind, enjoy!