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Bevedere Unfiltered Vodka

Review: Belvedere Unfiltered (Rare Diamond Rye) Vodka    (94/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 03, 2015

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.

I first tasted the new Unfiltered Belvedere Vodka at a recent Martini Seminar hosted in Edmonton by Ali Dedianko, the Belvedere Vodka Global Ambassador. At the seminar Ali described the Belvedere Unfiltered spirit as a ‘whisky drinkers vodka’ which was produced to allow the flavour of the Dankowski Rye to shine through. This is because the spirit is produced exclusively from Dankowski Rye grain grown on a Single Estate on one selected Polish farm. (It has its own terroir, if you will.) Furthermore the new Vodka, after being distilled four times, is bottled without filtering (at 40 % Alcohol by Volume) to ensure that the rye flavour within the vodka is not lost.

After the Martini event, I contacted the Western Canadian distributor of Belvedere Products, 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 on the front of every of every bottle.

belvedere-unfiltered-rye-vodkaMy First Impression 9.5/10

The tall black bottle of the Unfiltered Vodka commands a certain presence when I take it down from my Vodka shelf and place it in front of my friends. The picture of the historic Belweder Palace is familiar to any enthusiast of the Belvedere spirit, however the new darkened bottle for the Unfiltered Belvedere tells everyone who is see it that this Vodka is meant to be different. The dark colour hints at the new flavour profile within which showcases the bold flavours of Dankowski Rye. I remember being intrigued when I saw the bottle for the first time at Ali Dedianko’s martini seminar, and it is this intrigue that Belvedere is counting on to make a solid first impression upon the consumer which hopefully leads to a first sale. Of course it is the firm rye flavours of the Unfiltered Vodka inside the bottle that they are hoping will lead to the next sale.

The First Sip 19.5/20

I was fortunate enough to be able to taste both the flagship Belvedere Vodka, and the new Belvedere Unfiltered side by side both at the Martini seminar, and later at my home in my private tasting room. I tasted each spirit both at room temperature and chilled in my freezer to a temperature just above zero degrees Celsius. Of course at room temperature the differences are more pronounced, but even at the chilled serving temperature the Unfiltered Vodka shows off the robust flavour of Dankowski rye grain.

When I brought the chilled vodka to my nose I could detect light aromas of  fresh-baked rye bread combined with a lovely milk chocolate scent. I was surprised that the aroma was so firm as the Vodka was very well chilled. As the Vodka warmed, the spicy rye grain seemed to unravel itself from the lightly sweet chocolate giving me another olfactory dimension to enjoy.

Stealing a sip from the glass, I am surprised by the firm sweetness present. If you have ever tasted the light brown crust of a freshly baked bread slice on its own you might recognize this caramelized sweet flavour which features hints of milk chocolate and caramelized sugars. As I swallowed the vodka, spicy flavours of rye grain joined in heating my palate gently with a spiciness that lingered within the ebbing flavour of milk chocolate.

Interestingly, other than the spicy rye grain gaining momentum the Vodka does not change much in flavour as it warms. Only the best Vodka spirits have this sort of consistency of flavour experience from chilled to room temperature. There was no creeping vegetal flavours apparent and no metallic aftertaste. (I was tempted to give a perfect score here; this is totally delicious!)

Taking a Shot 19/20

Taking a full mouthful of chilled Belvedere Unfiltered and knocking it back is sort of like taking a glass of delicious chocolate milk and gulping it down. I have never tasted a vodka with this much apparent chocolate in its flavour profile before. There is no burn, and no metallic aftertaste, just wonderful chocolate flavour, and then a nice ebbing spiciness which feels and tastes great. There is also lovely sweetness which is brought forward by the rye grain. Yumm!

As the spirit warms the spiciness ramps up and it reveals an interesting choice. Do we serve the Vodka Chilled and revel in the milk chocolate goodness, or do we serve at room temperature and let that spice kick our tonsils just a little more?

Out for Dinner 18/20

I decided to make myself a platter of different foods to sample with the new Unfiltered Belvedere Vodka. Lightly salted crackers, marble cheese, black forest ham, pepperoni and farmer’s sausage, and a nice bowl of my spicy hamburger soup were all set out in a platter next to the Unfiltered Vodka. In a spirit which has demonstrated so much flavour, I was curious if the spirit would also be able to serve as a plate cleanser allowing me to enjoy my feast to its fullest extent.

I sipped on the vodka, snacked on the food, sipped some more vodka and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Even though the vodka left lingering flavours of milk chocolate and rye spice upon my palate, all of the food tasted very good when nibbled after a sip of vodka. The food actually seemed to bring stronger flavours of chocolate forward in the vodka, and the lightly spicy aftertaste of the vodka did indeed refresh my palate making it very responsive to the food I served myself.  I may have enjoyed the Belvedere Unfiltered slightly more as a sipping and shooting spirit; however it was certainly no slouch as an accompaniment to the foods I had chosen.

Cocktail Hour    28/30

I decided to follow Ali Dedianko’s example and mix a few Martini Cocktails with the Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka. I began with a simple dry Martini as follows:

Unfiltered Dry Martini SAM_1581Vodka Martini (dry with lemon garnish)

2 oz Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka
1/3 oz Stock Vermouth
ice
thin slice of lemon peel

Add the Vodka and the 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 thin slice of lemon peel

The resulting Martini was divine. I especially enjoyed the touches of light milk chocolate which seemed to permeate the taste experience.

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Next I mixed a Reverse Vesper mixing the Belvedere Unfiltered with one of my favorite gins, London No. 3.

Unfiltered Reverse Vesper SAM_1582Reverse Vesper Martini (with cucumber and lemon garnish)

2 oz  Belvedere Diamond Rye Vodka
2/3 oz No. 3 London Dry Gin
1/3 oz Vermouth
Ice
thin slice of cucumber
coil of lemon Peel

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 thin slice of cucumber and the lemon peel

Of course, you should enjoy responsibly!

The combination of cucumber and lemon peel worked spectacularly as a garnish!

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

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Final Score 94/100

(A spectacular Vodka, amongst the best I have tasted!)

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

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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)

 
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