Luksusowa Wisniowa (Cherry Vodka)
Review: Luksusowa Wisniowa (Cherry Vodka) 84/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 12, 2013
The production of Wódka Luksusowa began in 1928. At that time vodkas were categorized as zwykłe (meaning ordinary), wyborowe (meaning exquisite) and luksusowe (meaning luxurious). These categories were determined by different levels of purification which affected their taste and aroma. The present day recipe for Luksusowa Vodka and its name is linked to this early tradition. The Vodka is produced from potatoes which grow in Poland in the Wielkopolska and Pomerania regions, and the spirit is distributed world-wide by the Pernod Ricard conglomerate.
Production of Luksusowa Vodka utilizes a combination of traditional and modern methods which include an initial distillation at a local ‘farm distilleries’, and then further refinement at a larger centralized plant in Zielona Góra, where it is distilled in two columns (I believe it is cycled three times through the two columns). This rectification is done in conjunction with gas chromatography technology to produce a pure potato spirit. The processed spirit is filtered, first through cellulose boards and later through active carbon. The final pure spirit is combined with natural spring water from deep artesian wells to produce Luksusowa Vodka.
After having done all that research to find out all I could about Luksusowa Vodka; I was surprised when I received the press materials for Luksusowa Wisniowa (the cherry flavoured version). I discovered that the Vodka Liqueur which carries the Luksusowa name may not in fact use the potato based Luksusowa Vodka as its base spirit. Instead, Luksusowa Wisniowa (according to the press materials given to me anyway) is a cherry flavoured vodka made from real cherry fruit and the finest grain spirit. This was surprising to say the least, and although I asked for clarification of the media materials, I did not receive any information which contradicted the notion that the regular Luksusowa Vodka is a potato based spirit; but Luksusowa Wisniowa (cherry liqueur) is a grain based spirit. I guess this is a bonus for me, as my preference to this point based upon my tasting experiences is towards grain based vodka.
Some other interesting tidbits of knowledge contained in the presser I was sent is that real vanilla extract is added to the Wisniowa to enrich the flavour of the final spirit, and that it is aged for one month before being bottled. I was not able to determine if by aged they meant ‘rested’ in steel vats, or whether they actually meant aged in oak barrels. It is very common for Polish Vodka to be rested in steel vats for a month or more before bottling as it is thought that a subtle smoothing of the overall flavour occurs with such a rest. It would be most unusual if the Luksusowa Wisniowa were aged in oak for a month. Unfortunately the Pernod Ricard website is not very clear on the details. Perhaps some will come to light after my review.
In the Bottle 4/5
My sample bottle of Luksusowa Wisniowa (courtesy the Canadian Luksusowa media team) is pictured to the right. It has an appealing rectangular shape and a simple label. The shape is ergonomic, allowing more bottles to be packed into a square area (the typical shape of a shipping case) with less chance of breakage. The bottle has embossed lettering as part of its design, and I have found that this added texture on the side of glass bottles makes them easier to handle. Overall I am pleased with the bottle except for that metal cap I see on the top. I dislike pressed on metallic caps which are usually flimsy and prone to stripping.
However, the Luksusowa is not an overly expensive indulgence, and I will not be unduly severe in scoring this portion of the review.
In the Glass 8/10
As you can see from the picture to the left, the Luksusowa Wisniowa has a distinctive cherry hue which looks very similar to red wine. In the breezes above the glass I notice quite a bit of spice in the air and the scent of a lightly sweet hard cherry candy. The spice reminds me of cardamom or ginger and seems to give the aroma a light effervescence which was rather unexpected. Hints of menthol arise, and although I am not really sure, I seem to receive an impression of Ruby Port wine in those breezes. (That wine-like scent may just be an unconscious impression drawn from the colour of the spirit.)
I wonder if the grain spirit used as the base for this flavoured vodka is responsible for the overt spiciness or whether indeed this is an indication of that one month of aging which the press materials spoke of. Whatever the reason, I find the overall aroma quite pleasing.
In the Mouth 51/60
The initial taste impression is a mix of spicy ginger with cherry gum drops, and the spirit displays a nice balance between these two flavours. My immediate thought is that the Luksusowa Wisniowa will work extremely well in cocktails which call for cherry brandy or cherry flavoured whisky. The spiciness I taste adds a certain zip to the experience, and this makes the spirit much more interesting than if it had only a simple cherry flavour. Again I sense a bit of a wine-like quality to the flavoured vodka with hints of menthol riding in those flavour currents. The added vanilla is very hard to discern; but that is of no major importance. I feel the spirit tastes just fine whether I can appreciate the vanilla or not, and I find myself bumping the score up just a bit.
In the Throat 12.5/15
That effervescence I noted in the air seems to give me an impression of cherry soda in the finish. The spiciness of the spirit adds to that perception. Because the flavoured vodka has been sweetened with sugar, it has a very light syrup-like consistency which coats the palate allowing these flavours to linger.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
I found that I liked the Luksusowa Wisniowa much more than I enjoyed the previously reviewed regular Luksusowa Vodka. As the two spirits appear to share little in common (the cherry vodka apparently being a grain based spirit and the regular Luksusowa being a potato based spirit), I guess any comparisons between the two spirits may be moot. There seems to be more flavour nuances within the cherry spirit than I was expecting. I taste an overt spiciness and hints of a wine-like quality within the spirit that I enjoyed. These nuances made the Luksusowa Wisniowa quite interesting.
It also tastes very nice as reflected by my score of 84/100.
You may read some of my other Liqueur and Favoured Spirit Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
Luksusowa Wisniowa has a nice cherry flavour and reddish colouration, that to me just screams “Pink Cocktails”! In that vein, I am recommending two such imbibes, that are perfect for the day this review published, (two days before Valentines). The first recipe is my creation, the second was sent to me by the Luksusowa media team.
Oh My Valentine!
1 1/2 oz Appleton Vx Rum
1/2 oz Luksusowa Wisniowa (Cherry Vodka)
1/4 to 1/2 Oz Lime Juice
2 tsp Grenadine
3 Large Ice Cubes
Put all ingredients into a blender.
Blend until smooth(ish).
Serve in a wine glass.
Garnish with a thin lime slice folded around a Brandied Cherry with a spear through it.
The Secret Admirer
1 oz Luksusowa Wisniowa
1/2 oz Luksusowa Vodka
1/2 tsp Lemon juice
1/2 tsp Sugar syrup
Slice of pineapple
4 pitted Cherries
Two more Cherries for garnish
Muddle the fruit in a tall glass.
Fill the glass half full with ice
Pour the other ingredients over the ice
Fill the glass with more ice
Garnish with two Cherries
As always you may interpret the scores I provide 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 rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact 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 more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)