Review: Norvegia Vodka (89/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 23, 2016
Norvegia is a Norwegian Vodka produced from organic potatoes (the Trondelag varietal if you are interested). The spirit is five times distilled and brought to bottling proof with water sourced from the Folgefonna Glacier which was formed about 6000 years ago. The water from this glacier was bound to ice before airborne industrial pollutants were prevalent in the atmosphere, and as such the water from this glacier is so pure that it does not require chemical purification.
This new potato spirit was recently introduced into Ontario (through the LCBO) and is available in the slender blue bottle shown below, bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
The First Impression 8.5/10
Norvegia Vodka arrives in the stylish tall slender bottle shown to the left. I like the labeling with its bold colour scheme and its nod to the Norwegian roots of the potato spirit. Although the vodka is quite modestly priced ($29.95 in Ontario) it has the look of a much more expensive brand, and in fact the media notes I was given draws parallels between the Norvegia presentation and the presentation of the ultra premium Belvedere Vodka.
I appreciate that the front label makes it clear that this is a potato vodka. Vodka distilled from potatoes usually carry a distince flavour and usually more character than their grain counterparts. This extra depth appeals to some vodka drinkers and not to others. It is nice when this information is promoted on the front rather than the back label to help guide the consumer in his purchase decision.
The First Sip 18/20
When I sampled the Novegia for the first time, I sampled the spirit in conjunction with two other vodkas, Belvedere (see review here) and Extra Zytnia (review to forllow). Although I have sampled and reviewed Belvedere previously, I chose to sample the Novegia side by side with this ultra premium spirit because the press information sent to me compared the spirit favourably to the Polish Vodka. I wanted to see if the press comparisons were warranted. I sampled each Vodka after chilling them in my freezer to about 2 degrees Celsius.
At the very cold serving temperature Novegia Vodka is very clean. I could smell a light potato starch aroma, mild hints of lemon balm and wisps of white pepper when I brought the shot glass I was using to my nose. The texture was creamy, and when I took a sip the flavour matched up well with the breezes above the glass. I was also pleased that no bitterness nor unpleasant aftertaste were apparent. Both features are common in potato spirits, and their absence spoke to the five column distillation which created a clean, crisp vodka.
I sampled the spirit twice more (on two different days) while deliberating over this review. The next session was the next day at a serving temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius, and then a few days later at room temperature tasting the spirit side by side with another well-know potato vodka, Luksosova (see review here). Unlike Luksusowa, Norvegia stood up well at warmer serving temperatures. The spirit did demonstrate more potato flavour and spice; but it remained smooth and easy to sip. In fact, I enjoyed the spicy potato character the Norvegia demonstrated at the warmer serving temperatures.
Taking a Shot 17.5/20
Of course during my first tasting session I also took a large swallow of each Vodka from my shot glass. The Norvegia Vodka was smooth with a light potato starch flavour and mildly spicy finish. The spirit did not impart any burn in the throat; although a pleasant warmth did rise from my stomach after the full swallow (this is the sign of a very good vodka). During the next two tasting sessions (at the warmer serving temperatures), the spirit again performed well when I took larger swallows. The Potato spirit definitely carries much more spice and flavour than the average vodka with light vanilla and lemon impressions alongside a mild starch-like quality and white pepper. However there is no uncomfortable burn after the swallow, even at room temperature. The aftertaste is mildly sweet with vanilla and milk chocolate hinted at. When I again compared the spirit to its cousin Luksusowa (another potato vodka) it was obvious that the Norvegia displayed much more polish and finesse while still retaining its character as a potato vodka.
Out for Dinner 18.5/20
I had set my table up with various foods to sample with the three Vodkas: cheddar cheese chunks, slices of spiced Gouda cheese, smoked sausage, teriyaki chicken wings, lightly salted crackers, apple slices, and a small bowl of hot pepper pot soup. Perhaps it was the shredded potato base in my pepper pot soup which helped things along, but I found the Norvegia Vodka outstanding as a complement to the foods I was serving. For the first time during my sampling session the Norwegian spirit was actually outperforming Belvedere. (To be fair to Belvedere Vodka, I found it slightly smoother in each other part of the tasting, although the difference was small, and based upon the price difference between the two, this small difference is very forgivable.)
What was so appealing about the Norvegia Vodka, was that not only did the food seem to be improved by the vodka, but the vodka itself seemed to be embracing the food, and its flavour was enhanced as well.
Cocktail Hour 26.5/100
I served Vodka Gimlets with each of the Vodka Spirits during my initial tasting session. The Norvegia Vodka brought a very nice, let me call it ‘potato’ flavour component into the cocktail. There was a noticeable addition of character and spice within the Norwegian Gimlet. I made a few other cocktails for myself (with all three Vodkas) over the next weeks. I mixed a Moscow Mule, a Martini and a Vodka Soda In each mixed drink, the vodka performed well, although I was much more enthusiastic with respect to the original Gimlet and the Moscow Mule. If I was to make more martinis with Norvegia, I think I would be tempted to make them in the Vesper style pairing the vodka with a very good gin.
Final Score 89/100
(A wonderful vodka which is suitable for sipping, shooting and for mixing. It reaches it highest point as a fantastic spirit for a variety of food pairings!)
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
Here is an elegant cocktail which came about when I was experimenting with various fruit flavour combinations. Although this serving requires more effort than a common sour cocktail, the results are well worth the effort.
1 1/2 oz Norvegia Vodka
3/8 oz fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
3/8 oz fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 oz fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Orange Peel (pith removed)
Add the Vodka, the fruit juice and sugar syrup, into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Tie a long strip of fresh orange peel into a bow and drop it in for garnish
Note: 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)