Archive for the ‘Vodka Reviews’ Category
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
Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 28, 2013
BELUGA Vodka has been in production since 2002, when the first 38 bottles rolled off the production line at the Mariinsk Distillery on December 13th. The history of this particular plant actually stretches back 113 years to 1900 when it was built in the town of Mariinsk which is located in a remote area of southwestern Siberia (the Kemerovo Oblast), where the West Siberian plains meets the South Siberian mountains. Apparently, this plant was apparently constructed in this remote area of Siberia 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 producing vodka.
I was contacted by the Beluga Vodka Company about three months ago inquiring as to how they could send me a sample of the Beluga Transatlantic and Beluga Allure Vodkas. Thanks to the assistance of Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are the local distributors of Beluga Noble Vodka (see my review here), I was able to receive the samples in good order and provide a review on my website.
You may click the following excerpt to read the full review of this special Vodka:
“… when I raised it to my nose I sensed merely whispers of aroma. The first sip brought impressions of a vague creaminess to my mind which hinted at cream of wheat porridge. There is a mild spiciness with subtle flavours of lemon zest, and an ever so light sweetness which reminded me of the sweetness of fresh bread …”
As you can see by the picture to the right I have also include a nice recipe which I feel suits the mood and ambiance of this Special Edition Vodka, the Minted Vodka Daiquiri.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Beluga Vodka, Cocktails, Minted Daiquiri, Russian Vodka, Super Premium Vodka, Transatlantic Racing, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 23, 2013
Souvenir Vodka (according to their website) is a quadruple distilled Ukrainian Vodka. It arrives in a frosted bottle with a clear window shape in the front which is designed to allow the consumer to have their own image placed at the back of the bottle to be seen through this window. The idea is to allow clients to use the bottle for a variety of purposes such as to commemorate special events like weddings or anniversaries, or to advertise company logos, or whatever other purpose can be imagined. I was told that the Vodka within is a very high quality product from a major Ukrainian distillery, and therefore the company or individual who has purchased the Vodka for their event will not only gain the branding impact of the bottle presentation, but will also be seen as having discriminating taste.
The concept sounds interesting, and I decided to put the Souvenir Vodka through the rituals of my tasting methodology to see how it stacks up.
You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:
“… As I took my first full swallow of the Souvenir Vodka ‘shot style’, I noticed a spicy warmth upon my palate and in the back of my throat. To my way of thinking this spiciness is almost rye-like and it tickles the tonsils giving the spirit a ‘bracing’ quality …”
The review includes a new recipe I call the Viridian Viper.
Please enjoy the review and the recipe, Budmo!
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails and Recipes, Souvenir Vodka, Ukranian Vodka, Viridian Viper, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Souvenir Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 3, 2013
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. The 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.
Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka has recently been introduced into my home Province of Alberta. This is a super premium Vodka which is priced well above anything I have seen to date in the Vodka category (approx $175.00 per bottle in Alberta). A bottle was delivered to me by Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are importing this spirit and I was asked to provide a review on my website.
Here is an excerpt from my review:
” … 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… “
Here is a link to my full review:
Please enjoy my review of this new Super Premium Russian Vodka!
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Beluga Vodka, Cocktails and Recipes, Super Premium Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on 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.
You may read the comparative review here:
If you are interested, my original review for Grey Goose Vodka can be found here:
Each Review contains a different Cocktail, my new Emissary Cocktail, and the Vodka Daiquiri.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Grey Goose, Patron Spirits, Ultimat, Vodka, Vodka Review, Vodka tasting | Comments Off on Review: Ultimat vs Grey Goose