Tad Seestedt the master distiller and blender at Ransom designed the Ransom Sweet Vermouth to retain the traditional apothecary signatures of its Belle Époque ancestors whilst contributing meaningfully to the modern Vermouth resurgence. 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 Negroni, and the Manhattan. As the classic cocktail revival encouraged Tad to bring such endangered spirits as Old Tom Gin back into production, he yearned to create an aperitif with the aromatic intricacy and grace to complement the ransom spirits.
At Ransom, the production of Vermouth is the great bridge between the winemaking and distilling crafts. Beginning in the winery with small lots of aromatic white grapes, Tad carefully ferments and blends wines of elegance and character, employing traditional techniques to maximize varietal expression, such as fermenting Gewürztraminer on the skins, making botrytised Riesling, and employing carefully controlled oxidation of wine in barrel.
Taking another cue from classic European vermouth houses, the Ransom solera system allows them to maintain the consistency and complexity of this unique base wine blend across vintages. In the distillery, Tad alambically distills and barrel ages brandy from house-made base wine for fortification. The Vermouth is then infused with a tantalizing blend of aromatic botanicals divined through five years of elaborate blending trials and spirited conversations about the character of test batches. It is sweetened to a bittersweet balance with a proprietary blend of Muscat grape juice, maple syrup, and Turbinado sugar and minimally filtered before bottling.
While Ransom Sweet Vermouth is an original recipe with elements of whimsy, this Vermouth is fundamentally a classical formulation, rooted in flavours of wormwood and the quinate barks. It lends depth, complexity, and elegance to cocktails both classic and modern and is a worthy aperitif either neat or on ice.
Ransom Spirits was started by Tad Seestedt in 1997 with a small life savings and a fistful of credit cards. The name was chosen to represent the debt incurred to start the business - Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream. Initially, the distillery made small amounts of grappa, eau de vie and brandy. Ransom began the production of a number of small-batch fine wines in 1999. In 2007, Ransom took up the craft of grain-based spirits, adding gin, whiskey and vodka to the line-up.
Both the distillery and the winery moved several times in their early days, and in 2008, the purchase of a forty-acre farm outside of Sheridan Oregon brought them together for the first time. This was the same year barley was first planted on the farm. Ransom Farms is located in the Willamette Valley in the foothills of the Coastal Mountain Range. In keeping with their commitment to sustainability and stewardship, the farm has been certified Organic since 2011.
Ransom distills their spirits in a hand-hammered, direct-fired French alembic pot still, making all of the selective cuts by taste and smell, without the use of computers or robots. This labour intensive, traditional method of distillation retains greater aromatic intensity and body from the raw materials they select with such great care. They mash and ferment the base wort on site weekly in small batches, sourcing local and organic grains where possible and