Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 2, 2015
Pristina Vodka is a quadruple distilled wheat Vodka produced in High River, Alberta in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just south of Calgary. I have been a fan of Highwood Distillers for a while now; but I was not prepared for what greeted me when I opened a sample bottle Highwood’s Pristina Vodka. Maybe it was the uninspiring bottle and label, or maybe it is just a case of us Canadians being a little too self-conscious to believe we can be as good as everyone else in the world. Whatever the reason, when I put the Pristina in a flight of Vodka samples at a tasting where it was up against an Authentic Russian Vodka called Black Stallion, an Authentic Polish Vodka called Alchemia Czysta, and a popular super premium Vodka made in France called Grey Goose, I was not expecting what happened.
What happened was that every person at my tasting chose the same Vodka as their favourite, and every person at that same tasting said it wasn’t even close. That favourite, the clear head and shoulders winner without reservation in everybody’s opinion, was of course the Pristina Vodka from Highwood Distillers. Pristina is a gem of a Vodka which deserves far more attention from Vodka lovers than what it receives.
Here is a link to my review of the #84 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:
“… I was happy to taste no vegetal tones and to feel no burn at all in my throat. The swallow was clean and completely smooth. The back of my mouth received a mildly spicy warmth; but my throat felt no heat, even with a substantial swallow of the Pristina Vodka. This reaction was consistent amongst those who tasted the Vodka with me. There is a warming of the throat that occurs; but it is a sort of spreading warmth that feels good, not a burn that climbs down the throat. As well, there was not any sort of cloying metallic aftertaste …”
You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits
Posted in Awards, Extras, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Highwood Distillers, Pristina, Review, Rum howler, Top 100 Spirits, Vodka | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 16, 2015
This year, I thought I would do something special, a list of the 100 best spirits I have tasted and reviewed since opening my website about 6 years ago. To that end, I began working on my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits List at the beginning of July, and I put the final touches on it in early September. This list is the largest countdown list I have ever attempted, and I plan to bring you each spirit on the list, one day at a time, with the final spirit, the best that I have tasted, to be revealed on Christmas Eve.
As with my previous lists, I will publish reviews for each spirit in reverse order, or as I like to call it, countdown style. The first spirit to enter my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits countdown is Ultimat Vodka.
Ultimat is a Polish vodka (owned by The Patron Spirits Company), produced from the rather unusual mixture of both grains and potatoes. The grains (rye and wheat) are said to supply complexity and smoothness, while the potato spirit is said to lend a richness to the vodka which makes this spirit a new experience for the Vodka connoisseur.
You may read my review of this great spirit here:
“… is absolutely smooth even when taking a large swallow. Of course flavour impressions when sipping or shooting vodka are only that, impressions; but I tasted hints of anise, lemon balsam, and a light bread-like quality. The aftertaste was still lightly minty, although a touch of sourdough bread seemed to linger as well …”
I hope everyone enjoys my 2015 Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown List as I will reveal a new spirit each day on my way to revealing the best spirit I have tasted since opening my website. And to make it easier to follow along, I have created a separate page which will list the entire reveal as it happens.
You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits
Posted in Awards, Extras, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: 2015 Top 100 Spirits, Patron Spirits, Review, Rum howler, Ulltimat, Vodka | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 10, 2015
Opulent Vodka is an American made spirit produced from what their website calls ‘American-bred corn’. The spirit apparently undergoes an ‘intense distillation process’ which is repeated five times after which it is reduced to bottling proof using deionized water. The vodka appears to be produced by Johnson Brothers Wine and Spirits, which I believe is under the umbrella of companies owned by Crosby Lakes Spirits Company, of Minnesota.
When I sampled Opulent Vodka for the first time, I was also sampling three other vodka spirits, Polar Ice, Iceberg and Skyy Vodka. I created a set of tasting notes for each spirit, and from those notes, and from a second set of tasting notes which I prepared in my private tasting room when I sampled Opulent in isolation from the other spirits afterwards, I prepared this review.
Here is a link to the full write-up:
“… I decided that the vodka has a surprisingly spicy bit even at the cold serving temperature. Fortunately that mint-like quality I noticed when I inspected the breezes above my glass manifests itself into a soothing menthol-like quality as you sip. There is also a pleasant lemon-like sweetness as well …”
Please enjoy the review which concludes with a nice cocktail suggestion, the Greyhound.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Greyhound, Opulent, Vodka, Vodka Review | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 5, 2015
Skyy Vodka was originally created by Maurice Kanbar who formed Skyy Spirits LLC. in 1992 to market the spirit. The Vodka is quadruple distilled from American grain, and is also apparently filtered three times though California limestone prior to bottling. In 1999, the Compari Group (headquartered in Milan, Italy) purchased the brand, and Skyy is now a product of the Campari America Division.
When I sampled Skyy Vodka for the first time, I was also sampling with three other vodka spirits, Opulent, Iceberg and Polar Ice Vodka. I created a set of tasting notes for each spirit, and from those notes, and from a second set of tasting notes which I prepared in my private tasting room when sampled Skyy in isolation from the other spirits afterwards, I prepared this review.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… I had previously chilled them to about 2 degrees Celsius. At this temperature Skyy Vodka is slightly thickened, and when I brought it to my nose I noticed an obvious lemon-lime scent combined with a bit of grainy spice. As I sipped, my feeling was that the spirit had a somewhat bitter pithy (that white stuff on the back side of a citrus peel) flavour and aftertaste …”
I hope you enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe suggestion, the Minted Vodka Daiquiri.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Minted Vodka Daiquiri, Review, Skyy, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Skyy Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 27, 2015
Polar Ice is an economy vodka sold in Canada by Corby Distilleries Limited. The brand is extremely popular in Canada, and in fact, according to the information on the Corby Brands website, it is the number one Canadian vodka. Corby’s branded products are notoriously hard to research as the websites created for each brand do not got into very much depth regarding each brand’s production. All I could find was a statement on the aforementioned website which stated that Polar Ice is crafted from the purest water and grains, and that it is quadruple distilled to create an exceptionally smooth taste.
Iced Vodka Daiquiri
When I sampled Polar Ice Vodka for the first time, I was also sampling with three other vodka spirits, Opulent, Iceberg and Skyy Vodka. I created a set of tasting notes for each spirit, and from those notes, and from a second set of tasting notes which I prepared in my private tasting room when sampled Polar Ice in isolation from the other spirits afterwards, I prepared my review.
Here is a link to the full write-up:
“… When I took to sip, I allowed a little vodka to sit on my tongue before swallowing. I noticed a lightly bitter taste of citrus pith on my tongue which was coupled with penetrating spiciness. A corn-like sweetness followed …”
I hope you enjoy my review which concludes with a nice cocktail recipe, the Iced Vodka Daiquiri.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Corby, Iced Vodka Daiquiri, Polar Ice, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Polar Ice Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 18, 2015
Reverse Vesper with Iceberg Vodka
Iceberg Vodka is produced by the Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corp. (CIVC), which is headquartered St. John’s, Newfoundland. The spirit is produced by blending alcohol distilled from Ontario sweet-corn with water harvested from icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland with the aim of creating a premium vodka which is completely devoid of artificial pollutants. The arctic icebergs which float into what is called ‘iceberg alley’ just off the coat of Newfoundland are formed from glaciers which are over 10,000 years old.
When I opened my bottle of Iceberg Vodka for the first time, I was also sampling with three other vodka spirits, Polar Ice, Opulent and Skyy Vodka. I created a set of tasting notes for each spirit, and from those notes, and from a second set of tasting notes which I prepared in my private tasting room when I tasted each spirit in isolation from the others, I prepared my reviews.
Here is a link to the full review for Iceberg Vodka:
“… When I took to sip, I allowed a little vodka to sit on my tongue before swallowing. I noticed a nice corn-like sweetness came though in front of the grainy spice and the combination of both was quite nice …”
Please enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe suggestion, the Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Orange Peel.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corp., Cocktails, Iceberg Vodka, Reverse Vesper, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Iceberg Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 9, 2015
Finlandia describes itself as the Vodka of Finland. When I researched the spirit, I discovered it is distilled in the Finnish village of Koskenkorva, by the Altia Corporation from locally grown six-row barley and what the Finlandia website calls ‘untainted glacier water’. After distillation, the spirit is transported to Rajamäki (also in Finland) where it is brought to bottling strength and bottled. It is imported into Canada by Brown-Forman.
I sampled Finlandia side by side in a flight of vodka spirits which also included the more premium Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, and AnestasiA Vodka, as well as a locally produced spirit Alberta Pure Vodka which shares a similar price point with Finlandia. I compiled notes for each Vodka, and from those notes (and from my notes in a separate tasting in my private tasting room) I constructed my reviews.
Here is a link to my full review for Finlandia Vodka:
“… only a few wisps of grainy spice were apparent in the breezes before I took my first sip. The vodka has a soft lightly sweet lemon balsam flavour which spreads across the palate as you sip. There is also a mild spiciness that covers the tongue …”
Please enjoy my latest review which includes two nice recipes at its conclusion, a Vodka Martini (with Grapefruit Peel) and the Vodka Daiquiri.
Note: If you are interested, here are the links for the three other Vodka Spirits in the flight which I sampled side by side with the Finlandia:
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Finlandia, Martini, Vodka Daiquiri, Vodka Martini, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Finlandia Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 3, 2015
Belvedere Vodka is (according to their website) “the world’s first luxury vodka“. It is a four-time distilled spirit produced in the Polish town of Żyrardów from Dankowski rye and water pulled from Belvedere’s own underground artesian wells.
I first tasted the new Unfiltered Belvedere Vodka at a recent Martini Seminar hosted in Edmonton by Ali Dedianko, the Belvedere Vodka Global Ambassador. At the seminar Ali described the Belvedere Unfiltered spirit as a ‘whisky drinkers vodka’ which was produced to allow the flavour of the Dankowski Rye to shine through. This is because the spirit is produced exclusively from Dankowski Rye grain grown on a Single Estate on one selected Polish farm. (It has its own terroir, if you will.) Furthermore the new Vodka, after being distilled four times, is bottled without filtering (at 40 % Alcohol by Volume) to ensure that the rye flavour within the vodka is not lost.
Unfiltered Reverse Vesper
After the Martini event, I contacted the Western Canadian distributor of Belvedere products, Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… When I brought the chilled vodka to my nose I could detect light aromas of fresh-baked rye bread combined with a lovely milk chocolate scent. I was surprised that the aroma was so firm as the Vodka was very well chilled. As the Vodka warmed, the spicy rye grain seemed to unravel itself from the lightly sweet chocolate giving me another olfactory dimension to enjoy …”
Please enjoy the review, and at its conclusion I hope you also enjoy two Martini recipes I created which feature the outstanding flavour of the Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, a Dry Vodka Martini (with lemon garnish) and a Reverse Vesper Martini (with cucumber and lemon garnish).
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Belvedere Unfiltered, Cocktail, Dankowski Rye, Flavoured Vodka Review, Martini, Reverse Vesper, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Belvedere Unfiltered (Rare Diamond Rye) Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 26, 2015
AnestasiA Vodka was created as a result of founder, Yuliya Mamontova’s desire to create a luxury spirit in the United States. Yuliya’s passion was a result of her upbringing, as she learned the arts of fermentation and distillation as well as the expertise of marketing and packaging firsthand growing up in a family of European Vodka Producers.
Her luxury vodka, AnestasiA, is produced in Bend Oregon from corn which is sourced from Pacific Northwest farms and water which flows from Bend’s Cascade Mountains. According to the company website:
“The waters of this range flow through riverbeds of lava rock, and thereby avoid picking the sediment—metallic salts such as magnesium and calcium—present in most water sources. In fact, our waters contain 90% less of these compounds than your average drinking water. This makes our water remarkably ‘soft’, and results in AnestasiA vodka’s naturally derived purity.”
The AnestasiA spirit is five times distilled, and after the final distillation, the distillate is brought to bottling proof with the soft Northwest water. Then it is filtered a further five times through crushed lava rock, neutral charcoal, and Arkansas-derived quartz crystal. The final Vodka is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume in a stunning decanter type bottle (shown to the left) which is made partially from recycled materials.
Founder, Yuliya Mamontova, reached out to me through my website, and asked me if I would agree to receive a bottle of her luxury Vodka to review.
Here is a link to that full review:
“… At the cold serving temperature I could detect absolutely no aroma above the glass, however, when I sipped the vodka I could taste a firm lemon zest with just a hint of grain spice. It is very pleasant especially with the lingering lightly sweet lightly spicy lemon flavour which coats the palate …”
Included with my review is a very nice cocktail which combines the AnestasiA Vodka with Gilbey’s Gin. I call it, Tactical Equilibrium.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: AnestasiA, Cocktails, Tactical Equilibrium, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: AnestasiA Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 19, 2015
Alberta Pure Vodka is a brand name owned by Carrington Distillers who appear to be based in Calgary, Alberta. This is a triple distilled grain spirit produced by Alberta Distillers Limited which is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. It is sold throughout Western Canada and even makes its way into Ontario via the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario).
When I tasted the Alberta Pure Vodka for the first time it was as part of a flight of vodkas my friends (the Rum Chums) and I were sampling at my first Vodka Tasting of 2015. We chilled each Vodka in my deep freeze such that there were all at about 2 degrees Celsius when we sampled them. Each vodka was served individually in a shot glass, and I kept track of what my friends were saying during the tasting.
(Note: My previous reviews for Potter’s Premium Vodka and Absolut Vodka were published based upon notes compiled from that initial tasting session.)
Alberta Pure Martini with mint and lime
More recently, I sampled Alberta Pure once more, this time in a flight of more premium vodka spirits which also included Finlandia, Belvedere Unfiltered, and AnestasiA. Again I compiled notes for each Vodka and from those notes (and from my previous notes) I constructed this review. (My reviews for the other three spirits will follow in the coming weeks.)
Here is a link to my full review for Alberta Pure Vodka:
“… when I raised the glass to my nose I could detect very little aroma. There was a light spiciness, but that was all. The first sip brought forward bits of grain spice and a touch of citrus zest, but again, that was all. When chilled, Alberta Pure is an extremely clean crisp spirit …”
I have been on a bit of a Martini kick lately and my review includes a nice recipe for a Vodka Martini (with lime and mint garnish).
Please enjoy my review and the additional Vodka reviews which will follow.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Alberta Pure, Cocktails, Martini, Vodka, Vodka Review | 1 Comment »