Archive for the ‘Vodka Reviews’ Category
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 12, 2014
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. When I sampled Belvedere for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 2 other Vodkas each representing a similar style, but each at a different price range. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (The three Vodkas included in the tasting were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) price listings.
After the tasting event, I continued my examination of each spirit putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology. This is of course the review for the Ultra-Premium Belvedere Vodka imported into Alberta by the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.
You may click on the following link to read my full review which includes my suggested serving, the Lemon Martini.
“… The aroma was clean with a soft lemony spiciness rising into the air. When I sipped on the spirit, I was surprised at the firmness of this soft lemon flavour. I should stress that the flavour the vodka presented in the glass was not harsh or vegetal. Rather it was a soft lemon-like flavour which featured an underlying cereal-like earthiness running through the spirit …”
Please enjoy my review!
Interesting Note: Yesterday I was invited to be a guest judge at the Vodka Olympics (hosted by the good folks at Aligra Wine and Spirits). A group of jurors (about 10 of us) tasted and scored 12 different Vodkas in a completely blind format. Reinforcing my perceptions during my review (which was written about a week ago), Belvedere was revealed to be the third best vodka in the grouping. It turns out that Belvedere actually is a true ultra-premium Vodka. (Incidentally my personal score card had it rated number 1!)
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Belveder, Cocktails, Lemon Martini, Ultra premium Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Belvedere Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 4, 2014
Sobieski Vodka is (according to their website) the number 1 selling premium vodka in Poland. It is a true Polish Vodka distilled on a multi-column still from 100% Dankowski rye which was harvested in the low-lying Mazovia (Masowse) region of Poland. The spirit was named ‘Sobieski’ to pay homage to King Jan III Sobieski (1629 – 1696) who is generally regarded as the last great King of Poland whose spirit of indomitable will remains even today as an integral aspect of the Poland’s national character.
When I sampled Sobieski for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 2 other Vodkas each representing a similar style, but each at a different price range. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (The three Vodkas included in the tasting were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) listings.)
After the tasting event, I continued my examination of each spirit putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology. This is of course the review for Sobieski vodka imported into Alberta by the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.
You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:
“… When I threw back a shot of Sobieski, I was very pleased at how clean and smooth the spirit tasted. When served well chilled, the Vodka displayed no burn at all, only a nice spicy glow which heated the palate lightly and slowly crept down the throat …”
I hope you enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail recommendation, my own Yellowbird of Sunshine, which mixes Sobieski Vodka with lemon juice and Maraschino liqueur (and tastes absolutely delicious).
If you are interested in a direct comparison the previously published review for Khortytsa Platinum Vodka can be found here.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktail, Polish Vodka, Premium Vodka, Sobieski, Vodka, Vodka Review, Yellowbird of Sunshine | Comments Off on Review: Sobieski Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 29, 2014
Odd Society Spirits is a small-batch craft distillery located on Powell Street in East Vancouver’s port district. They are about experimentation and embracing change while celebrating the ‘collective and individual oddities’ of their Founder and Distiller, Gordon Glanz. The Odd Society is dedicated to melding Old World distilling traditions with New World ingenuity (and ingredients) to build a portfolio of spirits which includes whiskey, vodka, and gin.
When I asked Gordon about Odd Society he said,
“We are a “craft” distillery. Under BC regulations that means all alcohol must be produced from BC agricultural products. Unfortunately, this also means that we cannot make a rum without losing the craft designation, which comes with some big tax breaks and other advantages. We have started with a vodka and then a creme de cassis. We have started putting away whisky for aging.”
Odd Society’s East Van Vodka is produced solely from malted barley grown in Prince George, and malted in Armstrong, BC. The spirit is twice distilled upon German-made copper pot stills, after which it distilled once more on a 15 foot vodka column still. Then the vodka is charcoal filtered and blended with purified Vancouver tap water.
According to Gordon, East Van Vodka is not meant to be a totally neutral spirit. It is meant to be lightly fragrant, and incredibly smooth. As Gordon says, “Consider it a single malt vodka.”
You may learn more about Odd Society Spirits, and read my review of their ‘single malt vodka‘ by clicking on the following excerpt (link).
“… As I let the breezes meander about, I do in fact begin to notice the malted barley aroma growing in those breezes. The aroma is vaguely beer-like with barley porridge-like overtones and delicate impressions of brown sugar, spearmint and red licorice as well. After nosing, the first sip reveals a lightly spicy spirit with a malty sweetness and a firm minty fruitiness …”
Note: The distillery has began to lay down Single Malt Whisky for aging. For their whisky, the last distillation with the 15 foot column still is eliminated. Hence they produce their Malt distillate in much the same manner, twice distilled on a copper pot still, as traditional Scottish distillers. Because their Vodka is produced from the same spirit as their Whisky will be (just once more distilled), an examination of the Vodka gives us a glimpse into the character of their future single malt whisky.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: East Van Vodka, New Make Whisky, Odd Society Distillers, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Odd Society Spirits (East Van Vodka)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 20, 2014
This past Sunday, my friends and I spent the afternoon (while watching the football games) sampling and comparing three different Vodkas which represented similar styles, but different price ranges. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (Basically the way vodka is normally enjoyed by most casual consumers.) The three Vodkas we chose were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) price listings.
Over the next several weeks I will be posting the results of our findings in the form of a review for each Vodka. This review is for the Khortytsa Platinum Vodka which held up very well against the higher priced competition. I should note that I reviewed this particular brand about a year and a half ago, my tasting notes this time around were very similar; however, my enjoyment of the Platinum Vodka seems to have increased, and this increased enjoyment is reflected in my revised scores.
You may read my full review by clicking on the following review excerpt:
“… The first sip reinforced the nose with the spiciness of grain evident and a firm but mild citrus flavour. A lightly bitter taste was present which reminded me of spruce bark and thyme. Despite this light bitterness, the vodka appears smooth and easy to sip. It is up to the individual sampling the Vodka whether that light bitter taste is appealing or not …”
Enjoy my latest review for Khortytsa Platinum which includes a nice cocktail suggestion, the Minted Vodka Daiquiri.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Khortytsa Platinum, Ukranian Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Khortytsa Platinum Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 12, 2013
The Rum Howler had another great year tasting Vodka in 2013 as it seems like producers from all over the world have been sending me samples for review upon my website. My quirky style of vodka review appears to have struck a chord with these producers, especially those in Eastern Europe who have told me that my willingness to bring the gastronomic experience into my review process is much appreciated. The willingness of foreign producers to send me samples in spite of the huge difficulties they can experience in dealing with Canadian Customs and Excise means that I had an unusually strong group pf spirits for this years Vodka Awards.
As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. This year, with the very best spirits, I also compared each spirit with various food pairings in my efforts to determine the very best.
All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards. The competition was particularly fierce this year, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Vodka.
These Awards are for the best Vodka Spirits I encountered in the year 2013!
Posted in Awards, Extras, Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Flavoured Vodka, Premium Vodka, Rum Howler Awards, Super Premium Vodka, Ultra premium Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Comments Off on The Year in Vodka (2013 Rum Howler Awards)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 3, 2013
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, a real Polish Vodka called Alchemia Czysta, and a 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 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.
You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:
“… 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 …”
Please enjoy my review and the included cocktail, the Vodka Tonic.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Highwood Distillers, Pristina, Vodka, Vodka Review, Vodka Tonic | Comments Off on Review: Pristina Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 30, 2013
Words like “hand crafted” and “‘Small Batch” seem to be words thrown about by liquor producers in the same manner that rice and confetti are thrown about at a TV wedding. I guess the theory is that if you throw out enough rhetoric, some of it is bound to stick. So it is refreshing to write about a distillery where the words “hand crafted” and “‘Small Batch” really mean exactly what they imply.
Barry Bernstein and Barry Stein own and run the Still Water Distillery, and as far as small batch distilling goes, they are the real deal. They founded Ontario’s first micro-distillery in 2009, and pride themselves in not only being the Distillers and the Blenders of their craft spirits; but also in being the distillery’s Chief Bottle washers and Bottle Fillers. In fact, there is not a single aspect of the business that they do not either personally oversee or do themselves. Barry and Barry bring their spirits from grain to bottle in small batches, first sourcing locally grown grain, then mashing, fermenting, distilling, maturing, and bottling the spirits right at the distillery. And yes, they bottle and package every spirit they produce by hand!
Still Waters Single Malt Vodka is one of their hand-made spirits. It is not your typical Vodka. It is made from 100 % malted barley on their own German-made pot still.
Here is a link to my full review of this new Single Malt Vodka:
“… I received indications of a very light butterscotch sweetening the spirit just a little. I also sensed some indistinct floral notes with maybe a hint of licorice …”
At the end of the review I suggest a couple of nice cocktails, the Vodka Mojito, and Civility.
Please enjoy the review, and of course my cocktail suggestions!
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Canadian Vodka, Cocktails, Hand Crafted, Micro Distillery, Single Malt, Small Batch, Still Waters Distillery, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Still Waters Single Malt Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 18, 2013
An Alluring Soldier
BELUGA Vodka is perhaps one of the most exclusive Vodka brands in the entire world. The Beluga line-up includes two Super-Premium Vodka brands (Beluga Russian Noble and the Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodkas), as well as two Ultra-premium Brands (Beluga Gold Line and the Beluga Allure Vodkas). All of the Vodka is produced in a remote area of Siberia located in the town of Mariinsk which is situated in the Kemerovo Oblast of southwestern Siberia, where the West Siberian Plain meets the South Siberian Mountains. It was apparently constructed in this remote area for a very special reason, the Getreidemalz Siberian spring water which is pulled from an aquifer 250 meters below the ground. The special properties of this water (the aquifer contains quartz) are said to make it ideal for making vodka.
I have been fortunate enough to have been given samples of all four of the Vodka brands for review upon my website, and today I have come to the final review for the Ultra-premium Beluga Allure Noble Russian Vodka. (Thanks to the assistance of Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are the local distributors of Beluga Noble Vodka, I was able to receive each sample in good order).
You may click on the following link to read my latest review:
“… When I brought the spirit to my nose I had a hard time finding any aroma. I was hoping to catch a little wiff of maple syrup, but instead the air above the glass seemed to carry only a delicate hint of fresh bread. Perhaps there was also a vague sort of maltiness as well which gave the breezes above the glass a little sweetness …”
As part of the review I have provided two cocktail suggestions, the Russian Soldier, and my new decadent cocktail, Fulfillment!
Please enjoy my review!
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Allure, Beluga Vodka, Cocktails, Fulfillment, Noble Vodka, Recipes, Russian Soldier, Ultra premium Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Beluga Allure Russian Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 11, 2013
Double Cross Vodka is handcrafted in small batches at a family run distillery located just outside the 13th century village of Stará Ľubovňa located in the Tatra Mountains of northeastern Slovakia. The vodka is produced from organically grown winter wheat (apparently estate grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers) and purified spring water which is pulled from an aquifer located 200 meters below the ground. It is distilled in a seven-step, column-still process, and there are also seven filtration steps which include the use of active charcoal and limestone.
Double Cross Vodka has been in the Canadian market for about a year (in the Province of Ontario), and recently Woodman Wine and Spirits, (who are the exclusive agents for this brand in Ontario) sent me a bottle for review upon my website.
You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:
“… I noticed a light lemon scent in the breezes above my shot-glass as well as a sort of vague unidentifiable sweetness. When the Vodka was sipped, a very light lemon/balsam flavour was apparent as were hints of citrus zest and a ‘rye-like’ spiciness which built upon the palate with each sip. I found the Vodka to be remarkably clean, but it also contained nuances of flavour and spice which made it ideal for sipping …”
Please enjoy the review as well as my new cocktail creation, the Yellowbird of Sunshine, which follows.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Double Cross Vodka, Super Premium Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Double Cross Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 4, 2013
The Khortytsa Distillery is located in the City of Zaporizhzhia, in the south of Ukraine. The facility is relatively new, and its first distilled products were rolled out in December of 2003. According to the company website, the distillery uses only high quality grain spirits produced by Ukraine’s best factories for vodka manufacturing. Although the facility and the brand are relatively new, they have made a significant impact in the global market where today as Khortytsa is found in 85 countries worldwide. The brand was recently introduced into Canada, and I was recently asked by the local importer, Ukrainian Drinks Ltd. to provide a few reviews of some of their selected products.
The Khortytsa Structured Vodka is produced using what the company calls ‘structured water’ which apparently has similar properties to the water within the human body and allows the Vodka to be more easily digested (at least according to the pressers I have read). The Khortytsa brand also boasts that its Structured Vodka has been certified “Organic” by the EU (European Union), and certified “kosher” by the Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America).
You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:
“… When the Vodka was raised to my nose I noticed very delicate notes of lime zest and spice. As I sipped it, the impression upon my palate was of citrus zest with hints of lemon, spicy white pepper and cloves. All of us at the mini-tasting agreed the vodka was clean and very smooth with no detrimental aftertaste …”
Please enjoy the review, and do indulge in my newest recipe suggestion,the Bluebird of Happiness.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Bluebird of Happiness, Cocktails, Khortytsa, Structured, Ukranian Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Khortytsa Structured Vodka