Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 29, 2015
There 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:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: 2015 Rum Howler Awards, Vodka, Vodka Awards, Vodka Review | Comments Off on The Year In Vodka – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 10, 2015
Opulent 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.
Here is a link to the full write-up:
“… 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.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Greyhound, Opulent, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Opulent Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 27, 2015
Polar 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
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:
“… 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.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Corby, Iced Vodka Daiquiri, Polar Ice, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Polar Ice Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 18, 2015
Reverse Vesper with Iceberg Vodka
Iceberg Vodka is produced by the Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corp. (CIVC), which is headquartered St. John’s, Newfoundland. The spirit is produced by blending alcohol distilled from Ontario sweet-corn with water harvested from icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland with the aim of creating a premium vodka which is completely devoid of artificial pollutants. The arctic icebergs which float into what is called ‘iceberg alley’ just off the coat of Newfoundland are formed from glaciers which are over 10,000 years old.
When I opened my bottle of Iceberg Vodka for the first time, I was also sampling with three other vodka spirits, Polar Ice, Opulent 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 tasted each spirit in isolation from the others, I prepared my reviews.
Here is a link to the full review for Iceberg Vodka:
“… When I took to sip, I allowed a little vodka to sit on my tongue before swallowing. I noticed a nice corn-like sweetness came though in front of the grainy spice and the combination of both was quite nice …”
Please enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe suggestion, the Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Orange Peel.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corp., Cocktails, Iceberg Vodka, Reverse Vesper, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Iceberg Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 9, 2015
Finlandia describes itself as the Vodka of Finland. When I researched the spirit, I discovered it is distilled in the Finnish village of Koskenkorva, by the Altia Corporation from locally grown six-row barley and what the Finlandia website calls ‘untainted glacier water’. After distillation, the spirit is transported to Rajamäki (also in Finland) where it is brought to bottling strength and bottled. It is imported into Canada by Brown-Forman.
I sampled Finlandia side by side in a flight of vodka spirits which also included the more premium Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, and AnestasiA Vodka, as well as a locally produced spirit Alberta Pure Vodka which shares a similar price point with Finlandia. I compiled notes for each Vodka, and from those notes (and from my notes in a separate tasting in my private tasting room) I constructed my reviews.
Here is a link to my full review for Finlandia Vodka:
“… only a few wisps of grainy spice were apparent in the breezes before I took my first sip. The vodka has a soft lightly sweet lemon balsam flavour which spreads across the palate as you sip. There is also a mild spiciness that covers the tongue …”
Please enjoy my latest review which includes two nice recipes at its conclusion, a Vodka Martini (with Grapefruit Peel) and the Vodka Daiquiri.
Note: If you are interested, here are the links for the three other Vodka Spirits in the flight which I sampled side by side with the Finlandia:
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Finlandia, Martini, Vodka Daiquiri, Vodka Martini, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Finlandia Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 26, 2015
AnestasiA Vodka was created as a result of founder, Yuliya Mamontova’s desire to create a luxury spirit in the United States. Yuliya’s passion was a result of her upbringing, as she learned the arts of fermentation and distillation as well as the expertise of marketing and packaging firsthand growing up in a family of European Vodka Producers.
Her luxury vodka, AnestasiA, is produced in Bend Oregon from corn which is sourced from Pacific Northwest farms and water which flows from Bend’s Cascade Mountains. According to the company website:
“The waters of this range flow through riverbeds of lava rock, and thereby avoid picking the sediment—metallic salts such as magnesium and calcium—present in most water sources. In fact, our waters contain 90% less of these compounds than your average drinking water. This makes our water remarkably ‘soft’, and results in AnestasiA vodka’s naturally derived purity.”
The AnestasiA spirit is five times distilled, and after the final distillation, the distillate is brought to bottling proof with the soft Northwest water. Then it is filtered a further five times through crushed lava rock, neutral charcoal, and Arkansas-derived quartz crystal. The final Vodka is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume in a stunning decanter type bottle (shown to the left) which is made partially from recycled materials.
Founder, Yuliya Mamontova, reached out to me through my website, and asked me if I would agree to receive a bottle of her luxury Vodka to review.
Here is a link to that full review:
“… At the cold serving temperature I could detect absolutely no aroma above the glass, however, when I sipped the vodka I could taste a firm lemon zest with just a hint of grain spice. It is very pleasant especially with the lingering lightly sweet lightly spicy lemon flavour which coats the palate …”
Included with my review is a very nice cocktail which combines the AnestasiA Vodka with Gilbey’s Gin. I call it, Tactical Equilibrium.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: AnestasiA, Cocktails, Tactical Equilibrium, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: AnestasiA Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 19, 2015
Alberta Pure Vodka is a brand name owned by Carrington Distillers who appear to be based in Calgary, Alberta. This is a triple distilled grain spirit produced by Alberta Distillers Limited which is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. It is sold throughout Western Canada and even makes its way into Ontario via the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario).
When I tasted the Alberta Pure Vodka for the first time it was as part of a flight of vodkas my friends (the Rum Chums) and I were sampling at my first Vodka Tasting of 2015. We chilled each Vodka in my deep freeze such that there were all at about 2 degrees Celsius when we sampled them. Each vodka was served individually in a shot glass, and I kept track of what my friends were saying during the tasting.
(Note: My previous reviews for Potter’s Premium Vodka and Absolut Vodka were published based upon notes compiled from that initial tasting session.)
Alberta Pure Martini with mint and lime
More recently, I sampled Alberta Pure once more, this time in a flight of more premium vodka spirits which also included Finlandia, Belvedere Unfiltered, and AnestasiA. Again I compiled notes for each Vodka and from those notes (and from my previous notes) I constructed this review. (My reviews for the other three spirits will follow in the coming weeks.)
Here is a link to my full review for Alberta Pure Vodka:
“… when I raised the glass to my nose I could detect very little aroma. There was a light spiciness, but that was all. The first sip brought forward bits of grain spice and a touch of citrus zest, but again, that was all. When chilled, Alberta Pure is an extremely clean crisp spirit …”
I have been on a bit of a Martini kick lately and my review includes a nice recipe for a Vodka Martini (with lime and mint garnish).
Please enjoy my review and the additional Vodka reviews which will follow.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Alberta Pure, Cocktails, Martini, Vodka, Vodka Review | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 10, 2015
The Emissary Cocktail
In November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries which had been founded founded by Ernie Potter in 1958. The corn-based brands which Potter’s had established (Century and Potter’s) were added to the Highwood portfolio. Today Potter’s Premium Vodka is produced at the Highwood Distillery in High River, Alberta. This distillery is situated near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 40 minutes south of downtown Calgary.
According to the company website:
The careful repeated distillation of quality grains creates the base of Highwood’s Vodka brands. The pure, clear spirits are filtered and blended with fresh Rocky Mountain spring water to create our clean, crisp Vodkas.
When I tasted the Potter’s Premium Vodka for the first time it was as part of a flight of four vodkas my friends (the Rum Chums) and I were sampling at my first Vodka Tasting of 2015. We chilled all of the Vodkas in my deep freeze such that there were all at about 2 degrees Celsius when we sampled them.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… As I sipped upon the cold spirit, my impression was that this is a relatively smooth vodka especially considering its price point. I taste a light but firm flavour of lemon balsam and some hints of lime zest spice within the soft corn sweetness. There is also a whisper of briny salt and some fine white pepper spice which tastes quite nice …”
Please enjoy my review which conclude with a nice elegant cocktail of mine which I call the Emissary.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Emissary, Highwood Distillers, Potter's Premium, Vodka, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Potter’s Premium Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 1, 2015
According to the Absolut website, Lars Olsson Smith introduced the process known as continuous distillation (with respect to producing vodka) in 1879. Using his continuous still, he produced what he called Absolut Rent Brännvin (Absolute Pure Vodka). His claim of purity was based upon the theory that during the process of continuous distillation a potion of the distillate constantly recycles in the still, and (if the still was allowed to function indefinitely) this small portion would be continuously distilled an infinite number of times.
Note: It doesn’t quite work like that as the portion which recycles grows smaller and smaller over time such that the idea that the distillate is continuously distilled infinitum was a rather dubious statement at best.
In 1979, Lars Olsson’s brand Absolut Rent Brännvin was relaunched in New York City as Absolut. The vodka brand is produced near Åhus, Sweden which is the town in which Lars Olsen Smith was born. The vodka is produced from locally grown wheat and apparently does not contain any added sugar or artificial ingredients.
You may read my full review of Absolute Vodka by clicking the following link:
“… As we each tested the aroma above our glasses a common report from my guests was that the Absolut was very clean when it was cold: However, we all noted that the aroma changed significantly as the spirit’s temperature increased during the tasting. At first we noticed light grainy spice in the air above the glass, with hints of lemon balsam. This hint of lemon grew stronger as the vodka warmed …”
Please enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail suggestion, the Vodka Daiquiri!
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Absolut, Cocktails, Vodka, Vodka Daiquiri, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Absolut Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 20, 2015
In late November, I received an email from the Export Marketing Assistant for the independent French spirits group, La Martiniquaise. He was writing to me from Farnace to see if I would be interested in sampling some of the revamped new flavoured range of Poliakov Vodka. As it was explained to me in his email, Poliakov is attempting to bypass the prevailing “flavour fatigue” which they feel reigns within the flavoured vodka category, and rather than conjuring up new exotic flavours which are probably unfamiliar to their customers, the revamped Poliakov range focuses on ‘within-reach flavours’ which are familiar to their customers.
I agreed to taste some of the Poliakov flavoured range, and William arranged for me to receive three flavours, Poliakov Vanilla, Peach and Lemon Flavoured Vodkas.
Here is a link to the review for Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka:
“… the nose gives me very little indication of this sweetness except for maybe just a touch of sugar cane in the breezes. What I do receive clearly in the air above the glass is a relatively clean aroma of vanilla rising into the breezes along with lightly spicy grain accents …”
I consider Poliakov’s vanilla flavoured spirit an outstanding mixing spirit, and so of course my review includes a new Rum Howler recipe, Vanille Daiquiria.
Please enjoy both the review and my new recipe!
Posted in Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Cocktails, Flavoured Vodka Review, Poliakov, Vanilla, Vanilla Flavoured Vodka, Vanille Daiquiria, Vodka Review | Comments Off on Review: Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka