Review: Belvedere Vodka (90/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 12, 2014
Belvedere Vodka is (according to their website) “the world’s first luxury vodka“. It is a four-time distilled spirit produced in the Polish town of Żyrardów from Dankowski rye and water pulled from Belvedere’s own underground artesian wells. When I sampled Belvedere for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 2 other Vodkas each representing a similar style, but each at a different price range. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (The three Vodkas included in the tasting were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) price listings.
After the tasting event, I continued my examination of each spirit putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology. This is of course the review for the Ultra-Premium Belvedere Vodka imported into Alberta by the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.
Note: This Vodka spirit was named to pay homage to Belweder (Polish pronunciation: [bɛlvɛdɛr]), a historic palace located in Warsaw which once belonged to Poland’s last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski. The Palace is one of the few original structures in Warsaw to survive World War II, and is the current residence of Bronisław Komorowski (who is the current President of the Republic of Poland). An illustration of this iconic palace which has become a symbol of Poland’s enduring character is featured in the frosted window on the front of every of every bottle.
My First Impression 9/10
Although the picture of the historic Belweder palace is actually printed on the back of the bottle, the tall frosted bottle has an unfrosted window on the front label which allows the image to be seen clearly as though it is floating inside the vodka as you look directly at the bottle (from the front). This style of tall frosted bottle with the unfrosted window in front is quite familiar to vodka aficionados, and I believe it was Grey Goose which pioneered the style. Obviously, Belvedere is purposefully drawing a parallel between itself and Grey Goose which is the self acknowledged best tasting vodka in the World.
(You may click on this Grey Goose link if you are curious as to which of these two Ultra-premium Vodkas I preferred.)
Taking a Sip 18/20
During my first tasting session of this vodka with my friends, the Belvedere had been chilled in my freezer for about three hours prior to the tasting. It’s temperature was about 1 degree Celsius, and at that cold temperature the vodka was creamy and somewhat sluggish in the glass. The aroma was clean with a soft lemony spiciness rising into the air. When I sipped on the spirit, I was surprised at the firmness of this soft lemon flavour. Of the three Vodkas my friends and I were tasting that afternoon, the Belvedere, (when served chilled) was easily the most flavourful. I should stress that the flavour the vodka presented in the glass was not harsh or vegetal. Rather it was a soft lemon-like flavour which featured an underlying cereal-like earthiness running through the spirit.
I tasted the Belvedere Vodka twice more (on two different days) while deliberating over this review, the next day at a serving temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius, and then a few days later at room temperature. I was amazed during these tasting sessions that the flavour profile of the Belvedere did not change significantly when the vodka was served at those warmer temperatures. While the other two vodka spirits from my group tasting (the Khortytsa Platinum, and Sobieski) each displayed stronger flavour impressions and building vegetal flavours as their serving temperature increased, the Belvedere Vodka remained consistent in character regardless of serving temperature.
Taking a Shot 18/20
When I threw back a shot of Belvedere Vodka (I did this during each tasting session at each of the different serving temperatures), I noticed that although the soft earthy lemon flavour within the spirit remained consistent, a full shot did bring more spiciness across the palate as the vodka increased in temperature. However, at no time did this spiciness become uncomfortable, and even at room temperature I could find very little detrimental aftertaste or metallic elements within the overall flavour of the spirit.
Thus far in my examination, the Belvedere is living up to its reputation as a ultra-premium spirit.
Out for Dinner 17.5/20
For my main tasting event with my friends, there was a variety of breads and crackers served; as well as a variety of salty and spicy sausages and cheeses. We also enjoyed a sour cream based spinach dip with the different breads, and freshly cooked salt and pepper chicken wings. The Belvedere Vodka continued to demonstrate its consistent character regardless of whether I paired it with bread and cheese or with the spicy sausage.
I found the soft earthy lemon-like flavour which ripples though the spirit paired the best with the bread and cheeses. Having said that, I was not in any way dissuaded from enjoying the spicy and salty meat dishes either. The Belvedere is a great vodka to enjoy with a wide variety of food dishes.
At my tasting event, I also served everyone my standard Vodka Daiquiri. This has become my reference cocktail for Vodka because it showcases both the vodka spirit and its mixability with fresh fruit. The cocktail made with Belvedere was my favourite cocktail of the evening. It was lightly tart, with just enough sweetness to make the bar drink both delicious and refreshing. Having said that, I must point out that each guest (and I as well) seemed to like all of the cocktails. In fact, all three Vodkas served that day performed very well in the cocktail format.
I made a few other cocktails for myself (with all three Vodkas) over the next few weeks. With the Belvedere, I mixed a Moscow Mule, a Meadowland Breeze a Lemon Martini and a Vodka Soda (see the last two recipes below). In each mixed drink, the Belvedere Vodka performed extremely well, so well in fact that I would not hesitate recommending Belvedere in even the most demanding vodka cocktails.
Final Score 90/100
(A great Vodka for sipping, shooting and for mixing)
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
The Lemon Gimlet is made in the style of a daiquiri, but in this case where I want to showcase the Vodka, the ratio of spirit to fresh lemon juice at 5:1 rather than at 2:1. When made in this style, the quality of the Vodka becomes imperative to the quality of the cocktail.
2 1/2 oz Belvedere Vodka
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Sugar Syrup
Add the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Strain into a nice cocktail glass
Garnish (if desired) with a ring of lemon peel
And of course enjoy responsibly!
I am very judicious as to which Vodka I would recommend when mixing a Vodka Soda. This simple cocktail can easily be ruined with a mediocre vodka. As you are sipping and the cocktail warms up, a lessor vodka will bring unwanted vegetal flavours and a metallic finish into the drink. However, the Belvedere Vodka is free from those hazards, and as such makes a sensational Vodka Soda.
2 oz chilled Premium Vodka
1 oz chilled premium club soda or sparkling water (Q Club is great)
1 slice of lime
Chill your Vodka in the freezer for at least 3 hours
Chill your sparkling water overnight in the refrigerator
Cut a slice of lime and place it in your cocktail glass
Add the chilled vodka
complete with sparkling water or Q Club
Note: I always use well chilled ingredients rather than ice when making a Vodka Soda as home-made ice cubes can bring unwanted detrimental flavours into the cocktail.
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)