Boyd & Blair Jul31

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Boyd & Blair

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Rating: 3.7/5 (11 votes cast)

Bottled by hand, dipped in wax and signed

I was at a food festival a couple years ago when I first learned that vodka was being distilled in Shaler. Shaler? Vodka? I pictured the water pouring from the waterfall built into the facade of the Shaler Water Authority building on Route 28 being turned into vodka and couldn’t help but shudder. But then I tasted Boyd & Blair vodka, and thought, “Wow, how’d they do that?”

Boyd & Blair was founded by Prentice Orr and Barry Young in a warehouse-turned-distillery in Shaler Township. The two left corporate jobs to pursue their dream of distilling vodka, and they do everything in the distilling process. There’s no automated processes, no computer controlled equipment; Boyd & Blair is truly a hand-crafted spirit. Every bottle is filled by hand by the two men, corked and dipped in wax and signed by Young, the still master. Other than the top being dipped in wax, the bottle is clean and simple. There’s no brushed glass or fancy graphics. The bottle reflects their ideal that it’s all about the quality of the product.

In addition to the hand-crafted process, what sets Boyd & Blair apart from other brands is that they make their vodka from locally grown potatoes. According to the Boyd & Blair web site, they chose to use local potatoes because the supply is plentiful and because potatoes produce a slightly sweeter vodka.

I remember reading an article in the New York Times a couple years ago about how the premium vodka fad created by the introduction of Grey Goose was largely an artificially created phenomenon. By design, vodka is a liquor void of taste for the most part, and I’ve always believed that the moderately priced brands like Smirnoff taste just as good as ones that cost considerably more. But Boyd & Blair changed my opinion on that. Boyd & Blair has a distinctive albeit subtle taste, slightly sweet and very smooth. It’s different than any other vodka I’ve had before. Like any premium liquor, the best way to enjoy a glass is neat or on the rocks. (I never understood people who insist on drinking a premium brand like Kettel One only to bastardize the taste by adding cranberry juice or a lime.)

The $29.99 price tag for a bottle of Boyd & Blair is a bit steep, but when you consider that it’s made by hand every step of the distilling process and then bottled by hand by the two owners, $29.99 is a bargain.

You don’t have to be a vodka drinker to admire what Orr and Young have achieved with Boyd & Blair in only three years of being in business. Boyd & Blair is now sold in 14 states. The brand has received accolades from national publications such as the Wall St. Journal and Food & Wine.  Most recently, Boyd & Blair was named number 22 of 140 Top Five-star Spirits in the World by Spirit Journal making it the top ranked vodka in the world.

And it’s all being done right here in Shaler Township. Maybe now Shaler will be known for something other than exorbitantly high school taxes.

Find Boyd & Blair on the web at boydandblair.com.

Boyd & Blair, 3.7 out of 5 based on 11 ratings