Can you distill vodka from honey?

Vodka, we’re told, is flavorless. It’s wheat, rice, potatoes, corn, rye, sorghum, or any number of other plant rich in starch or sugar, which is distilled into alcohol. That alcohol is then distilled again—sometime the distillation total is three, sometimes five—and filtered. It’s there to be a base for the other ingredients in your cocktail, or to be chilled and thrown back quickly. A bad vodka burns, maybe even turns the stomach. A good vodka disappears.

Barr Hill Vodka doesn’t disappear, and it’s one of the best damn spirits on my bar cart. When you look at the bottle, you’ll see a little bee on the label; you’ll also see the line, “distilled from raw honey.” This may lead you to believe this is a honey-flavored vodka, but it’s not. It’s made from honey. Just honey.

“We’re not using any potatoes, we’re not using any corn,” says Ryan Christiansen, head distiller for the Vermont-based Caledonia Spirits. “We’re just bringing honey straight from the apiary into the distillery. We take the honey, we dilute it with water so that the yeast can consume the sugar. That produces alcohol, which is basically like making honey wine. We then take that fermented honey, and we transfer to our pot still.”