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Double Cross Vodka

Review: Double Cross Vodka    90/100
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published 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.

When I contacted the brand owner and asked about special ingredients which are often used in minute quantities by European distillers when they produce Vodka, I was told that no such ingredients were part of the Double Cross construction, as the intention of the vodka’s creator is to make a pure spirit for the Vodka connoisseur.

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. The Vodka is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In all honesty, I was a bit suspicious of a vodka which has apparently been through seven different distillation steps and additionally been filtered seven times. I want my vodka to have some character, and I was fearful that this character might have been stripped from the spirit by all that processing. Therefore in order to eliminate any preconceived notions I might have had regarding the Double Cross Vodka, I had three friends over for my first tasting session with the spirit. We tasted four premium and super-premium brands in a blind format side by side, and I had each of my friends (and myself too) write down our perceptions and scores for each spirit. Each vodka was chilled before hand, and they were served at a temperature just above zero degrees centigrade. I also sampled each brand served at room temperature (at a later date) in order to finalize the reviews.

(In case you are wondering, the other spirits sampled that day were: Khortytsa Structured Vodka, Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka, and Wyborowa Exquisite.)


My First Impression  10/10

I have a pretty nifty liquor shelf (a shelf which has had to be enlarged four times since I began this website), and I love to place unusual bottles upon it. My Vodka shelf has some of the most unusual bottles of all. However, it is not just the unusual which catches my eye. I also like class and elegance. The very best bottle designs are the ‘show stoppers’ so to speak of my liquor shelf, and the Double Cross Vodka is one of these show stoppers. It stands out as an elegant work of craftsmanship, as you can see by the picture to the left. The bottle itself is made from crystal clear glass (from a renowned french glass house I am told). The lift-off/snap-on metallic topper is engraveable such that the bottle may be presented as a gift to mark a special occasion. The side of the bottle is inscribed with 19th century Slovak Poetry. And each bottle is individually numbered and sealed with a tamper proof seal. I love seeing such incredible attention to detail.

By the way, the Double Cross Logo on the side of the bottle was apparently inspired by the ancient double cross symbol upon the Slovak coat of arms.

Taking a Sip 18/20

When my guests and I brought the Double Cross vodka to our noses, we all noticed that it took some time for any sort of sensory impressions to form. 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.

When I tested if the flavour and character held true at warmer temperatures, I found I was very pleased. Although the presence of both the spice and the lemon/balsam flavour increased at the warmer temperature, the Vodka did not demonstrate any appreciable vegetal aftertaste which is so common in warm vodka. I am finding myself rethinking my thoughts regarding the multiple filtration, and the seven-step distillation.

Taking a Shot 18/20

A full swallow (shot style) brings a rush of spice to the tonsils and the throat which is quite nice. Although the spirit is spicy, it is also very smooth. The back of the throat is heated, but the throat itself feel no burn. After the swallow, the spirit brings forward a slowly growing warmth which rises from the stomach back up the throat. (This is exactly what I expect from a premium Vodka.)

The citrus (lemon) flavour was quite noticeable when I took my shot of Vodka, as was a light sweetness which carried that flavour. The combination was very nice, and the rush of spice afterwards provided a heated finish which cleansed the palate.

When I sampled the Double Cross at room temperature a few days later, I again discovered that the Vodka held up very well at a warmer serving temperature. The lightly sweet lemon flavour is more noticeable at the warmer temperature, and the Vodka has more bite. However it remained very enjoyable and featured no hints of metallic or vegetal aftertaste even with a full swallow.

Out for Dinner 17.5/20

When my friends and I have a vodka tasting we always have a similar assortment of foods to taste while we consume the vodka. Bread and lightly sour spinach dip has become a staple, we try to have some sort of spicy sausage and salty ham. I always make a lightly salty soup (my somewhat famous hamburger ball soup this time), and an assortment of pickles and cheeses. This time we even had a nice meat lovers pizza cut into small pieces for everyone.

What we noticed as we sipped the vodka, and sampled our food was that the light lemon flavour of the vodka seemed to be brought out even more as we ate. Especially when we ate the bread and spinach dip. The Vodka also tasted just a little sweeter than before. The spiciness of the Double Cross worked well to cleanse our palates between bites, and there was no complaints from anyone at my mini-tasting. In particular, the bread seemed to taste sweeter and fresher when paired with the vodka, and the sausage and ham seemed spicier and more flavourful.

Cocktails 26.5/30

The finale of my Vodka tasting was a small cocktail exploration where I made each of my guests a Vodka Daiquiri to enjoy after the main sampling session. We all had exactly the same impression from the cocktail I had made. The daiquiri was lightly tart and perhaps just a touch less sweet than the daiquiris made with the other Vodkas at the tasting. It is my experience that wheat vodkas tend to make lightly sweet cocktails, and rye vodkas make lightly tart cocktails. The Double Cross seems to run against the norm. None of us disliked the lightly tart daiquiri, and in fact two of my guests said they preferred the flavour to the daiquiris made with the other vodkas. (I disagreed; but only mildly, and that difference of opinion did not deter anyone’s enjoyment of the cocktails that afternoon.)

I decided to explore a few more Double Cross bar drinks and made myself a Cosmopolitan afterwards, as well as a Vodka Tonic. Both cocktails were very nice; but again I noticed more tartness (especially in the Cosmopolitan) than I was expecting. I decided to put this feature to good use mixing with lemon juice creating a new cocktail I call the Yellowbird of Sunshine  (see recipe below).


Final Score 90/100

A wonderful all round Vodka which works great for sipping and for Vodka shots.

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


Suggested Recipe:

SAM_0768 Yellow BirdYellowbird of Sunshine

2 oz Double Cross Vodka
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/8 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Sugar syrup (1:1 Ratio)
splash of soda
Lemon slice for Garnish

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Double strain into a Martini Glass
Add a splash of Soda
Float a Lemon Slice on top
Enjoy Responsibly


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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