Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka
Review: Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka 82.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published January 20, 2015
In late November, I received an email from the Export Marketing Assistant for the independent French spirits group, La Martiniquaise. He was writing to me from Farnace to see if I would be interested in sampling some of the revamped new flavoured range of Poliakov Vodka. As it was explained to me in his email, Poliakov is attempting to bypass the prevailing “flavour fatigue” which they feel reigns within the flavoured vodka category, and rather than conjuring up new exotic flavours which are probably unfamiliar to their customers, the revamped Poliakov range focuses on ‘within-reach flavours’ which are familiar to their customers.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, Poliakov is an international Millionaire brand with sales in over 50 countries, is today one of the Top 20 international Vodka brands. The owner of the brand, La Martiniquaise is an independent French group founded in 1934. They are currently the second-largest spirits group in France, and owners of 4 other Millionaire brands, LABEL 5 and SIR EDWARD’S (Scotch Whisky), POLIAKOV (Vodka) and NEGRITA (Rum).
I agreed to taste some of the Poliakov flavoured range, and William arranged for me to receive three flavours, Poliakov Vanilla, Peach and Lemon Flavoured Vodkas.
This is the review for the first sample, Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka.
In the Bottle 4/5
To the left is a snapshot I took of the Poliakov Vanilla Flavour (I am sorry, but it is extremely difficult to take nice pictures of an almost clear bottle outside on my deck in the winter time). Although the picture makes it appear as though the bottle is clear, the glass is tinted slightly to represent the soft yellow colour of the vanilla flower. As you can see the spirit arrives in a medium tall glass bottle with a silver coloured metallic screw cap. Those who read my reviews regularly know that I dislike these pressed on metallic closures, as they are prone to warping and often lose their thread if you try to close the bottle too tightly.
The front label is quite satisfactory as both the colour of the label and the graphic of the vanilla flower help the bartender instantly recognize the flavour within (as does the soft tint upon the glass bottle). I was hoping for more information on the back label to tell me whether or not the flavour within the bottle is sweetened and whether or not the flavour is 100 % natural. However, I am left to guess on both these fronts.
Note: The label does tell me that Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka is produced from a triple distilled spirit and that it is bottled at 37.5% alcohol by volume.
In the Glass 8/10
In the glass, the spirit is clear with very little if any hint of colour. When I tilted the glass and gave it a slow twirl, there was an initial display of fast-moving legs falling from the crest of spirit at the top of the glass. Then the crest seemed to gather itself before releasing a second wave of slower droopy slightly thickened legs which fell more leisurely back into the spirit at the bottom of my glencairn.
That second wave of thickened legs seems to indicate the presence of some sugar added to the spirit (which would be quite reasonable in a flavoured spirit); however the nose gives me very little indication of this sweetness except for maybe just a touch of sugar cane in the breezes. What I do receive clearly in the air above the glass is a relatively clean aroma of vanilla rising into the breezes along with lightly spicy grain accents. There are hints of bitterness and a touch of metallic astringency in the air. When I compared the scents and smells above my glass to the scents and smells of natural vanilla, I realized that both Vanilla extract and crushed Vanilla bean carry very similar scents forward. What I perceive as metallic astringency may be a natural component of the real vanilla aroma.
In The Mouth 49.5/60
I suspect that the Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka is not meant to be sipped neat in a glass. I believe it is rather intended for the purpose of adding a clean vanilla flavour to your favourite bar drink or cocktail. I say this because the spirit carries only a small amount of sweetness forward which serves to temper the brackish vanilla flavour of the spirit; but it does not fully hide the natural bitterness of the vanilla bean. If you are making cocktails, that may a very good thing indeed.
I say this because there are perhaps enough sweet vanilla liqueurs already being produced (Yukon Jack, Southern Comfort, and Galliano) and although these are all very good, there is certainly room for a new vanilla spirit which will bring a cleaner (and much less sweet) vanilla flavour forward into the cocktail experience.
Along with the clean vanilla flavour, I taste some underlying grain spice, and some light sugar syrup. The combination seems to be suitable as a complimentary flavour within rum cocktails, and so I thought I would explore that idea a little with a few of my favourites. I learned that a little of this Vanilla Flavoured Vodka goes a long ways; but when mixed correctly the results (at least as far as daiquiri style rum cocktails goes) are quite nice (see my suggested daiquiri recipe below).
In the Throat 12.5/15
The spirit leaves a slightly bitter/slightly metallic aftertaste in the mouth which is very similar to what you would experience if you were to bite into a vanilla bean. Having said that, I do not believe we are really supposed to be biting into vanilla beans, nor do I believe we should sip the Poliakov Vanilla straight. This spirit should be mixed , and when mixed properly into a nice cocktail, the vanilla flavoured spirit enhances the experience and bringing a nice flavour and finish to your bar drink.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
I enjoyed my time spent with my sample bottle of this Vanilla Flavoured Vodka. As I indicated in the review, the spirit is only lightly sweetened which helps to bring forward a much cleaner vanilla flavour than what you would find in a typical Vanilla flavoured liqueur. Although it is not necessarily meant as a sipping spirit, that clean vanilla flavour is a very good complement in bar drinks and cocktails.
My final score of 82.5/100 recognizes that the Poliakov Vanilla Vodka is not meant as a sipping spirit. However, it also recognizes that this spirit is excellent in its own right as a cocktail enhancer. The clean lightly sweetened vanilla taste is outstanding.
You may read some of my other Favoured Vodka Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
1 1/2 oz White Rum
3/8 oz Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2/3 oz Simple syrup
Add the first 5 ingredients into your metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake well until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a suitable cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of Lime
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that 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 spirit. 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 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)