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Liberator Vodka

Review: Liberator Vodka  (88.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published May 16, 2022

The Liberator brand is an authentic small batch craft spirits brand produced by Highwood Distillers to honor the WWII RCAF base that was located in their home town of High River as well as to honor the brave men and women who fought in WWII. This is a hand craft offering created such that Highwood Distillers would have a line-up of 100% Alberta made craft spirits produced for the local market.

According to Michael Nychyk, Operations Manager at the Distillery:

This is a small volume brand in our portfolio; but we are proud it honours the RCAF and their connection to High River. And not to mention the spirits are great quality!

To be fair to the other brands which are produced at Highwood, one could consider almost every product which they distill to be a ‘craft’ brand. The distillery doesn’t use a continuous column still, rather they distill their products using a batch process as described in my previous posting, The Highwood Distillery Tour.  In a way, you could say that they were craft distilling, before craft distilling became the next big thing.

Liberty Vodka is distilled in small batches using locally sourced wheat. The local aquifer fed by the nearby Rocky Mountains is used as their water source, and the vodka is polished through a multi stage charcoal filtration system prior to bottling which is done with hand-applied closures and labels. The small batch production is limited to a maximum of 300 cases per batch.

Liberator Vodka is bottled at 42 % alcohol by volume.

The First Impression 8.5/10

Liberator Vodka is sold in a rectangular clear bottle with a medium sized neck and cork closure. The labeling is much nicer that many of the other Highwood offerings, I think perhaps because they have a good story to tell regarding the WW II Liberator Aircraft and its connection to High River (where the Highwood Distillery is located).

The back label of each bottle tells the story of the RCAF base located in High River Alberta and pays tribute to the 1.1 million Canadians who served in WWII.

I should note that each bottle is individually numbered with the batch number which identifies the particular batch of each bottling. As you can see from the photo above, my sample bottle of Liberty Vodka was from Batch # 004.

The First Sip 18/20

I had chilled the vodka in my freezer prior to sipping (to about 1 degree Celsius), and at this temperature the spirit was thickened and creamy as I poured it into my tall double shot glass. When I put my nose close to that shot glass I found Liberator Vodka brought a surprising impression of citrus lime (with hints of lemon) into the breezes. There were perhaps some wisps of grain spice as well but it was the citrus note that caught my attention.

When I took a sip, my impression was that the vodka was soft vodka on the tongue. The lemon and lime in the breezes were joined by impressions of mint. The spirit was also lightly spicy with a pop of rye-like grain spice livening the palate. I am surprised at the amount of citrus flavour I am tasting. This is unusual in a vodka spirit. As the glass warmed I continued to sip. The flavour does not seem to intensify, nor is there any off flavours or metallic bitterness in the aftertaste.

Taking a Shot  18/20

With another well chilled sample in my shot glass, I took a larger mouthful (about 1/2 ounce) and swallowed the spirit shot style. Liberator went down smoothly with a light tap at the tonsils from the 42 % alcohol strength and the rye-like grain spice. Again I noticed that a very citrus-like flavour of lime was apparent. I could also taste hints of lemon and menthol-like mint as the spirit was swallowed. It left a spicy aftertaste in my mouth coupled with a menthol-like coolness, but no untoward flavours that would cause any distress.

I am somewhat perplexed as to scoring. I usually like my vodka to have an almost tasteless flavour profile with wisps of tantalizing citrus and grain. This is more overt, yet I have to acknowledge that the spirit is free from off flavours. In the end I decide that I like what I am tasting and score the spirit to that end.

Out for Dinner 18/20

Next I tried the spirit with some food pairings. A good vodka will cleanse the palate between bites allowing you to enjoy your food more thoroughly.  I served myself some lightly salty, lightly spicy meat and vegetable soup, fresh bread and cheese (Cheddar and Edam), some meaty chicken wings, and a bowl of chopped watermelon and cantaloupe.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the feast. The different items I sampled all seemed to ‘pop’ with flavour especially when the vodka was chilled. There was perhaps a slight difference as the vodka warmed in particular with the bread and cheeses which seemed to acquire some of the citrus-like flavours after a swallow of vodka. However, when chilled Liberty vodka was an ideal accompaniment with the meal I had prepared. The Vodka tasted good with the food, and the food tasted good with the vodka!

Cocktails  26/30

The Vodka Daiquiri has become one of my standard cocktails which I turn to the when I assess vodka. A good vodka will make a nice tart vodka daiquiri where the lime flavour pops in your mouth.  And that is precisely what you get when you mix a Vodka Daiquiri with Liberty Vodka. This is a refreshing cocktail, not too sweet nor too tart. Wheat vodkas typically bring less sweetness forward than a corn vodka will and this was the case here. If I had had a suitable Vermouth, I would have mixed a Martini next as the spirit seems to have all the qualifications to make a nice dry Vodka Martini.

The Vodka Daiquiri

2 oz  Liberator Vodka
1 oz  Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
Ice
Lime slice

Add the three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a nice cocktail glass
Garnish (if desired) with a slice of lime
And of course…enjoy!

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 88.5/100

Great for Sipping and Shots; as well as for for Mixing Cocktails

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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