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Banff Ice Vodka

Review: Banff Ice Vodka  87.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published October 1, 2018

Banff Ice Vodka is a Vodka brand owned and produced by Alberta Distillers Limited (Owned by Beam Suntory) based in Calgary, Alberta. This is a triple distilled grain spirit  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).

Earlier this summer, I organized a small Vodka tasting for a few friends. We tasted Russian Standard Vodka, and Strait Vodka 40 alongside Banff Ice comparing each for sipping, for shooting, as a palette cleanser, and in cocktails. This review has been written based upon the tasting notes I constructed during the Vodka Tasting as well as from the comments of my friends, and from my impression during a subsequent tasting I did by myself with the spirit in isolation.

Here is the results for Banff Ice Vodka.

The First Impression  8/10

Banff Ice arrives in the 750 ml bottle pictured to the left. Unfortunately when placed on the shelf next to my other vodka spirits in the tasting flight this bottle seemed to be a little underwhelming. It has the look of an economy brand (which based upon its attractive price is not surprising). When I showed the bottle to my friends at the tasting they were a little underwhelmed. As you shall see when you read the rest of the review though, you really can’t judge Vodka by appearance or by price.

The First Sip  18/20

Prior to my tasting, I chilled the three spirits in my freezer for several hours. When I served the spirit I checked the temperature and (according to my thermometer) the Banff Ice had cooled to about one degree Celsius. The spirit was only slightly thickened, and when I raised the glass to my nose I could detect very little aroma. There was a light spiciness and a hint of menthol, 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, Banff Ice is an extremely clean, crisp spirit.

I repeated my examinations a few days later with the spirit served a room temperature.  When served at this warmer temperature the Banff Ice exhibited a light lemon-like flavours, more grainy spiciness, and a firmer dab of mint-like menthol. There was however very little burn, and the increased spiciness was not a deterrent to my enjoyment.

Banff Ice is an excellent sipping Vodka!

Taking a Shot 17.5/20

When served out of the freezer (at about one degree Celsius), Banff Ice is pleasant indeed. The shot goes down smoothly leaving a spicy rye-like aftertaste followed by cooling menthol. There is no burn at all. When the experience was repeated with the spirit at room temperature I notice some minor breakdown, a light burn was evident, the spiciness of the grain increases, and there is some lightly bitter metallic aftertaste; but these are just quibbles. I have tasted many more expensive spirits (including Grey Goose) which break down much more than the Banff Ice does.

Banff Ice is a very good shooting Vodka!

Out for Dinner 17.5/20

I served my guests fresh bread, soft cheddar and Edam cheese, smoked sausage, as well as honey garlic chicken wings, and my home-made spicy pepper pot soup.The idea is to take a bit of food, then sip some vodka to cleanse the palette and then take another bit of food. A crisp clean vodka will cleanse the palate between bits allowing you to enjoy your dinner more thoroughly. To my mind a good vodka when sipped between morsels will clean the palate enabling me to enjoy the flavours of each food more thoroughly.

Banff Ice performed just the way a good vodka should. The light spiciness of the spirit between each bite was enjoyable and this light spiciness kept the palate fresh. The various foods seemed to taste better when tasted just after a sip of Vodka.

Cocktail Hour 26.5/30

At my Vodka tasting, I served everybody a Vodka Gimlet with each spirit we sampled. All three Vodka’s made great cocktails. I did prefer the gimlet made with the Strait Vodka 40 by a light margin over the others as it seemed crisper and more tart, which is how I like my gimlets to be; but the window of victory was very small. Afterwards when I experimented with the Banff Ice I found it worked well in Martinis as well, as the following recipe demonstrates:

Reverse Vesper (with a twist of lime)

1 1/2 oz  Banff Ice Vodka
1/2 oz London Dry Gin
1/4 oz Vermouth
Ice
Twist of Lemon or Lime

Add the vodka, gin and vermouth into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Double Strain into a chilled martini glass
Add a Twist of Lemon or Lime and drop in the peel

Of course, you should enjoy responsibly!

If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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Final Score 87.5/100

(An excellent Vodka, which shows that a book should not be judged by its cover!)

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.

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The Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the 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)

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