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Posts Tagged ‘Vodka’

The Year In Vodka – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 29, 2015

RH-winner2015There seems to be a divide among vodka producers. While most producers, particularly in North America and Western Europe continue to value purity above all else, a small but growing movement (which started in Eastern Europe) of allowing the vodka spirit to express a certain level of flavour is gaining momentum. I have always maintained that there are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot, and it seems that some of the producers within Eastern Europe have adherents to this philosophy as well. Hopefully this movement will continue to grow.

When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of those subtle nuances of flavour and pleasure which the spirit can provide.

As for those Vodka Reviews, they continue to be among the most popular upon my website. And I must admit that reviewing vodka the way I do is certainly fun. The process and methodology I utilize where my friends are invited to participate as we sample and share both cocktails and food pairings with the Vodka spirit allows me to incorporate not only my views of taste and quality, but also my friends observations.

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 may also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. 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 include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge, and I may receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.

Here is a link to my Vodka Awards Page:

The 2015 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

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#14 Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2015

Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka is an exclusive ultra-premium Vodka, and according to the Beluga Website, it is manufactured from malted spirit and pure Getreidemalz Siberian spring water. Even though artesian spring water is naturally pure, for this Vodka, the spring water must also undergo an extra filtration for an even higher level of purity. After being distilled five times, the vodka is enriched with special ingredients such as rice extract and golden root (rhodiola rosea) extract.

Beluga Noble Gold Line SAM_1887The addition of minute quantities of special ingredients is consistent with what I know of traditional European production methods where each distilled vodka has its own recipe and its own special ingredients. It is these special ingredients used in very small proportions which contribute to the individual character of each Vodka. (By small quantities I really do mean small; typically these extra ingredients are measured in parts per million.)

After all of this, the Vodka is rested for 90 days before bottling. This rest period apparently allows the molecular components within to stabilize allowing for a smoother more velvet-like mouth-feel and taste.

Here is a link to the review of the best Vodka I have ever tasted, and the #14 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown of the best spirits I have ever tasted.

#14 – Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka

“… The first taste was lightly sweet and lightly spicy with a flavour I would describe as soft and clean. Hints of lemon tantalized my mouth, and I seem to taste mild hints of bay leaf and thyme, and perhaps an ever so light impression of ginger. As the vodka warmed, the flavours increased in strength; but they never become more than vague impressions. It is almost as if I feel the flavour rather than taste it …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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# 36 Belvedere Unfiltered (Rare Diamond Rye) Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 19, 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.

Dry Vodka Martini SAM_1606At 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.

Here is a link to the review of the #36 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#36 – Belvedere Unfiltered (Rare Diamond Rye) Vodka

“…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 …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#42 Wyborowa Exquisite Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 13, 2015

Wyborowa Exquisite is the Premium version of Wyborowa Vodka and it is produced in Turew, which is a single estate distillery in Western Poland. It is distilled using 100 % Dankowslie Slote Rye Grain. This particular grain is said to give the final spirit a creamy consistency and sweet, nutty note. The grain used to produce Wyborowa Exquisite vodka comes from the fields surrounding the traditional rural distillery. Rectified spirit of excellent quality is diluted with water from a deep spring.

Wyborowa E SAM_1720The Wyborowa Exquisite was one of the very first Vodka spirits I reviewed upon my website. I loved it at once, and upon re-tasting the spirit for my Top 100 Spirits Countdown, I fell in love with it all over again.

Here is a link to the review of the #42 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#42 – Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)

“… The initial aroma of the vodka presented tantalizing glimpses of rye spices with just a hint of pine and citrus. These impressions were reinforced on my palate although the ghostly flavour impressions seemed to vanish as quickly as they appeared. The Vodka was not as creamy as some of the more recent premium vodkas I have tried. It was however cleaner in the mouth, and as it is swallowed the finish in the throat was clean as well …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#72 Nemiroff Lex Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 14, 2015

Lex is the Super Premium Vodka from Nemiroff which was introduced to in Ukrainian Markets in 2003. It is a very interesting premium vodka spirit produced from grain alcohol which has been aged in wood for six months. The spirit undergoes eleven stages of purification, and then the resulting vodka is enhanced with aromatic spirits from natural oats and the Linden blossom. According to the Nemiroff website, the recommended manner in which to enjoy the Lex Vodka is to sip it slowly, savouring its unique qualities neat. Complicated cocktails and/or drinking the Lex as a ‘shot’ style vodka is not recommended.

Nemiroff LexOf course as you read my review you will see that I disagree (and I also think that spirits companies should perhaps refrain from suggesting to the consumer that he or she should limit the ways in which to enjoy their spirits). As well as being a great sipping vodka, I found that the Lex Vodka was also a great ‘shot-style’ vodka and an even better cocktail spirit.

Here is a link to my review of the #72 entry in my 2015 Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#72 – Nemiroff Lex Vodka

“… The initial aroma of the vodka presented tantalizing glimpses of a spicy grain in combination with a warm sweetness and a mild lemon citrus. I am thinking that this sweet lemon citrus must be the Linden Blossom which the Nemiroff website says is evident in the aroma of the vodka …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#84 Pristina Vodka

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.

Pristina Vodka TonicWhat 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:

#84 – Pristina Vodka

“… 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 …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#100 Ultimat Vodka

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.

SAM_0622 Ultimat cocktatilAs 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:

#100:  Ultimat Vodka

“… 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.

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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: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Opulent Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 10, 2015

oppulentOpulent 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.

Opulent Greyhound

Opulent Greyhound

Here is a link to the full write-up:

Review: Opulent Vodka

“… 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.

Chimo!

 

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Review: Skyy Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 5, 2015

Skyy Minted Daiquiri SAM_1670Skyy 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:

Review: Skyy Vodka

“… 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.

Chimo!

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Review: Polar Ice Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 27, 2015

Polar IcePolar 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

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:

Review: Polar Ice Vodka

“… 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.

Chimo!

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