Scott Lindquist collects icebergs for a living.
Yes, it is an extremely odd job, but when you learn what he does with the big chunks of ice he harvests from Prince William Sound, Alaska, the reason becomes clear as gin, or in this case, vodka.
Lindquist is the head distiller of Alaska Distillery—makers of award-winning vodkas, one of which is called Smoked Salmon—and the secret to his success is that the water used in the distilling process comes from Earth’s purest water source: glaciers.
Jeff Cioletti, editor in chief of Beverage World, told Outside Magazine that water is very important to the quality of liquor.
“It’s the quality of something so special and so old,” Lindquist told Outside.
So, between September and May of the tourist offseason, Lindquist and his crew scour Prince William Sound, collecting 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of icebergs that have broken off from the Harding Icefield formed over 10,000 years ago during the ice age.
Lindquist has poor eyesight, but he still manages to find icebergs that are just right for his vodka.
Like any seasoned hunter, he’s picky about his prey. We pass by some errant bergs that are no good, he tells me, because they’ve been exposed to the sun too long, becoming so porous that the oldest and tastiest inner crystals evaporate away. Lindquist prefers clean, round pieces that roll in the water from their own weight, shedding debris from their edges as they go. When he captures one, he’ll take it back to the distillery and cut the rind off with a chainsaw, getting down to the inner core, roughly two feet in diameter—pure, dense ice preserved for eons.
Lindquist uses his son’s hockey stick to hook the icebergs (weighing 300 pounds and up) and guide them to the boat. Screws are twisted into the ice blocks, ropes are attached, and the ice is hauled on board.
Does the water from the icebergs really make a difference? Does Rocky Mountain spring water make a difference in the making of Coors beer?
“I can’t tell the difference between this and the stuff in my fridge at home,” Outside Magazine writer David Kushner wrote. “But then again, I realize, that’s not the point. What I’m really tasting is power—the awesomeness of water that was frozen 10,000 years ago and melted just for my pleasure. And that tastes great.”
You know, we’ve just got to taste the Smoked Salmon vodka, priced at $30 a bottle on Amazon. It, and the other vodkas, must be pretty good. After all, Alaska Distillery went from $4,500 in revenue in 2008 to over $1 million last year, according to Outside.
There is one looming roadblock to future profits, however: global warming.