Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka
Review: Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka 91/100
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 06, 2014
Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka is a spirit which celebrates the mystical history of the Mongolian people. The vodka which bears the symbol of Soyombo is (according to the website information I found) produced at the original distillery site of Bogd Khan’s Winter Palace (Bogd Khan was the last Mongolian Emperor). This site is located in Ulaanbaatar, which is the capital city of Mongolia. The Soyombo symbol is the first character of the original Mongolian Soyombo script which was developed (according to legend) by Undur Geghen Zanabazar, the First Resplendent Saint and Bogd Khan of Mongolia. According to the legend, Zanabazar had a vision of symbolic signs drifting amongst the clouds in the eternal blue skies of Mongolia. From these heavenly signs he created the Soyombo script. The Soyombo has since become a national symbol of Mongolia, and is found on both the Flag of Mongolia, and upon the national Coat of Arms.
For those interested, the elements within the Soyombo contain very specific images which as a whole provide full meaning to the Symbol. The top element which looks like an inverted question mark is the flame. The three tongues of the flame represent the past, present, and future which represent eternal growth, wealth, and success. Directly below the flame is the Sun (the circle) and the Moon (the crescent) which represent the eternal blue Mongolian sky which will exist forever over the Mongolian Nation. The two triangles represent the points of an arrow or spear. They each point down to proclaim the defeat of both interior and exterior enemies. The two horizontal rectangles serve to provide stability to the round shape (the arga bilge) contained between them. These rectangular shapes also symbolize the honest and just nature of the Mongolian people. The round arga bilge (yin yang) between the horizontal rectangles illustrates the complementary duality of man and woman. It has also been interpreted as two vigilant fish which watch over the Mongolian people. (Fish are vigilant because they never close their eyes.) The vertical rectangles on each side of the symbol represents a walled fort which provides unity and strength.
The Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka is produced from what the website calls ‘high quality Alpha Grade spirit’. (Alpha Grade spirit apparently must be a 100 % wheat spirit.) To produce the Soyombo Vodka this Alpha grade spirit is distilled six times, and then it is filtered for five days over a bed of quartz, diamonds, and silver. The water source for the vodka is the icy glaciers atop the Sacred Bogd Khan Mountains. The melted glacier water flows down the Sacred Mountains feeding the underground aquifers from which the water for the Soyombo Vodka is drawn.
I was provided with a sample bottle from the local importers of the spirit, River Valley Beverage. I sampled the spirit after chilling it in my freezer until it had reach a temperature of just above zero degrees Celsius. I also allowed the Soyombo Vodka to warm up in my glass during the sampling session to investigate how the spirit reacted to warmer serving temperatures. Here is the results:
My First Impression 9/10
The presentation of the Soyombo Mongolian Vodka is very nice. The smoky colour of the glass bottle stands out on my vodka shelf next to all of the other clear Vodka bottles making the bottle easy to pick out from the crowd. The smoky colour and the symbol embossed at the top of the bottle help bring forward a connection between the vodka and the mystical past of Mongolia. I appreciate how this is accomplished with a minimum of clutter on the label.
Taking a Sip 18.5/20
When I brought the Soyombo vodka to my nose, I noticed a light but firm impression of fresh-baked bread crust drifting in the breezes above my glass complete with the light aroma of caramelized sugars, toasted marshmallow and ever so light impressions of milk chocolate. (Grab some fresh bread and break the crust under your nose, and you will know what I mean.) I also noticed wisps of a light lemony citrus scent in the breezes above my shot-glass and a hint of cream of wheat porridge.
When I sipped on the spirit, I tasted a lightly bitter, almost sap-like birch flavour mingling with hints of malty sweetness. I also noticed a growing impression of bittersweet chocolate spreading across my palate, and a peppery sap-like spiciness which built-up with each sip. I allowed the spirit warm up in my glass, and I was happy that the Soyombo remained smooth and soft in my mouth. The chocolate flavour seemed to increase in strength as the spirit warmed. There was also noticeable build-up up of lemon-like flavours, and a lightly bitter almost spicy aftertaste.
Taking a Shot 18/20
A full swallow (shot style) brought more than a tinge of pepper and citrus spice to the tonsils and the throat. Despite this spiciness, the spirit seemed relatively smooth, and I enjoyed an ebbing bittersweet chocolate flavour that seemed to linger after the swallow. Although this bittersweet chocolate flavour seemed to overwhelm the other flavour impressions, when I searched my imaginings of those taste impressions, I found hints of black licorice, a malty sweetness, and a touch of caramelized treacle somewhere in those imaginings as well. After the full swallow, the spirit brings forward a slow-growing warmth which rises from the stomach back up towards the chest, which is of course, exactly what I expect from a Vodka which calls itself, super-premium.
A few days later when I sampled a full shot of the Soyombo Vodka at room temperature, I encountered a firm spicy, sap-like, bitter birch aftertaste. Normally I do not like bitterness, but I found this lingering flavour quite interesting and actually found myself enjoying it.
Out for Dinner 18/20
I was very curious as to how the wonderful chocolate and interesting spicy birch-like flavours I was discovering in the Soyombo Vodka would translate when paired with food. To that end I prepared myself a platter of low salt crackers and a variety of cheeses (Cheddar, spiced Gouda, and Edam). I also sliced some Montreal Smoked beef, and some German smoked sausages. I was happy and delighted to discover that the combinations all tasted quite nice when served with the Vodka. The spiciness of the vodka seemed to cleanse the palate between each bite, and the lingering aftertaste of chocolate and birch-like spice mingled well with the cheeses and both of my meat dishes. Everything I tasted, seemed to taste better with the Vodka, and the Vodka was able to maintain its interesting flavour characteristic between morsels.
I began my cocktail explorations with a Vodka Daiquiri and was surprised at how much of the light bitterness which I tasted within the vodka pushed through to the cocktail. I found that when I accented this bitterness with a touch more sweetness in the cocktail, the result was very nice. Something twigged in my subconscious, and I mixed a Vodka Darby next omitting the splash of soda. The result was a spectacular cocktail in which the flavour elements from the Vodka mixed beautifully with the grapefruit in the cocktail. I tweaked that cocktail and came up with what I call the Grapefruit Blush (see recipe below). I spent the rest of the day experimenting with the Soyombo Vodka and arrived at another really nice recipe using lemon juice and ginger syrup (see below). My conclusion is that the Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka has lived up to my expectations and the scoring in all parts of my review are quite high as a result.
Final Score 91/100
A Great Sipping and Shooting and Mixing Vodka
If you are interested in comparing some scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
2 oz Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Ginger Syrup (see recipe here)
Lemon peel spiral
Add the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Double strain into a Martini Glass
Garnish with a lemon peel spiral
2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
Pour the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Strain into a suitable glass
Please remember to enjoy my cocktail suggestions responsibly!
Note: If you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
You may (loosely) interpret my score as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Vodka. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are preferable.
85-89 Excellent! Shots or cocktails!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)