Review: Ultimat Vodka 91.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 24, 2013
I was able to meet up with, Burt Stewart, Vice President of Sales for Patron Spirits a few weeks ago who was in town promoting Ultimat Vodka. Ultimat is a Polish Vodka (at the premium end of the scale), 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 a new experience for the Vodka connoisseur.
After I met Mr. Stewart, I was told by the representative from Select Wines (the local importers) that they wanted me to have a bottle of the Ultimat to review on my website; there was a catch though, I would have to also accept a bottle of Grey Goose and taste the two side by side before writing my review. It seemed a reasonable request and so I accepted. Thus my review of the Ultimat will contain references and comparisons to Grey Goose Vodka throughout. Even I am curious as to how this is going to work out.
My First Impression 9/10
There is quite a difference in style between the Grey Goose bottle presentation (see here), and the Ultimat bottle presentation. The Grey Goose bottle is both functional and elegant. It features an eye-catching panoramic etched upon on the bottle, and its standard shape makes it very bartender friendly, being ready to grab, easy to hold and easy to pour in the bar setting.
On the other hand, the Ultimat bottle presentation seems to follow the adage ‘bigger is better’ with a large and heavy bottle which would be a rather awkward to deal with in a busy bar setting. The teardrop shaped air pocket in the base of the bottle creates much of this extra mass, but the rest of the bottle itself is also made of thick heavy glass. In fact I would call this a decanter rather than a bottle. With its bright blue cobalt colour, the decanter seems to shout boldly at me from the bar shelf, “Here I am!”
I like the classy functionality of the Grey Goose bottle more than I like the ostentatious presence of the Ultimat Bottle, although each bottle looks very good on my vodka shelf.
The First Sip 19.5/20
I had a couple of friends over for my first tasting session with the Ultimat, and I poured out two chilled shot glasses for each guest, one of Grey Goose, and of course one of Ultimat. At first there was not much to choose between the two spirits as each displayed only very delicate scents above their glass. However, as we let the Vodka sit for a little while it did become obvious that the Ultimat was giving more to the breezes with a light lemon zest drifting up from its glass and perhaps a hint of anise. The breezes above the Grey Goose glass were clean with only a hint of grain.
Sipping each revealed more differences. The Grey Goose tasted very clean with a touch of grainy spiciness, and only a few wisps of indistinguishable flavour, whereas the Ultimat had less spiciness, but was teasing my palate with hints of lemon and a lightly minty flavour. A very thin (but not unpleasant) burn accompanied the Grey Goose when it was swallowed, and there was no aftertaste at all. The Ultimate was absolutely smooth going down and left a light minty aftertaste in the mouth.
When I asked my friends which they preferred, it was unanimous that we all felt the Ultimate was the superior sipping Vodka. The difference between the two was significant.
Taking a Shot 19/20
Our impressions when taking the first sip were reinforced when we each took a full swallow. The Ultimat carries more flavour and 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. With the Grey Goose, the flavour impressions were ghostly remnants of starch and a touch of sweetness. I noticed a spicy warmth with the Grey Goose which was largely absent with the Ultimat which was completely smooth even with a large swallow.
I repeated the exercise the next day on my own with both vodkas served at room temperature. Each held up well, although the grey Goose did develop a vague vegetal flavour and metallic aftertaste at room temperature. Even served warm the Ultimat remained very smooth although it was spicier than before with a light ‘starchy’ flavour.
Out for Dinner 18.5/20
It was a few days later, that I decided to try each Vodka with a few food pairings. I made a lightly salty, creamed vegetable cheese soup; a platter of fresh buns with sliced Ukrainian sausage and sharp cheddar cheese; and lots of barbeque chicken wings. My ritual was to take a small swallow of Vodka, and then a few bites of food followed by some more vodka. I had chilled both the Grey Goose, and the Ultimate before I started. I noticed very quickly that I had a preference for the Ultimat. Although each Vodka paired well with all of the foods, I enjoyed the light flavours of the Ultimat more than the crisp cleanness of the Grey Goose. The lightly salted foods, and the fresh bread were particularly good with both vodkas.
I made two cocktails with each Vodka sampling them side by side. The first was a Vodka Daiquiri, and the second was my Mountain Raspberry Cocktail. The idea was to have one rather simple cocktail which would hopefully showcase the Vodka, and to have one more complicated cocktail where the ingredients would be showcased, hopefully accented by the vodka.
The difference between the two spirits was most obvious in the Vodka Daiquiri. Whereas the cocktail made with Grey Goose was quite tart and clean, the Ultimat cocktail was obviously sweeter with less fruit flavour pushing through. I enjoyed both styles of drink; but I preferred the crisp, clean taste of the Grey Goose cocktail over the sweeter less fruity Ultimat cocktail. In the more complicated Mountain Raspberry Cocktail, the same effect was noticed although to a lesser extent, and this time I did not have a preference for one cocktail over the other.
The long and the short of this exercise is that if you plan to sip, shoot, or serve your vodka with food, then the Ultimat is the obvious choice working much better than Grey goose in these formats. If you want to serve high-end cocktails, then Grey Goose would be a better choice.
Final Score 91.5/100
(Excellent for Sipping and for Vodka Shots)
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
Here is a rather elegant cocktail which uses four fruit flavours and tastes absolutely yummy with the Ultimat Vodka; I call it the Emissary.
1 1/2 oz Ultimat Vodka
3/8 oz fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
3/8 oz fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 oz fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice
Orange peel (pith removed)
Add the Vodka and the fruit juice into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Tie a long strip of fresh orange peel into a bow and drop it in for garnish
You may (loosely) interpret my scores 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 still 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)