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Provincial Vodka (Radouga Distilleries)

Review: Provincial Vodka   (81/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 16, 2016

Radouga Distilleries is a small distillery which began operations in Blaine Lake Saskatchewan (near Saskatoon) on November 20th 2014. Recently I met one of their sales reps (D’arcy Nemanishin) at the November Edmonton Food and Wine Show. We chatted briefly and after the show D’arcy arranged for me to receive a few sample of their line-up which included their Apple and the Blueberry Pie Liqueurs (reviewed here) as well as their Provincial and Provincial Spiced Vodkas. This is the review for the Provincial Vodka.

As part of the review process, I held a Vodka tasting for my friends (the Rum Chums) where we sampled three other new vodkas (Norvegia, Tryst, and Foothills) in a tasting flight with the Provincial Vodka. I served the spirits chilled where we sipped them each neat, swallowed shots, and sampled each with a variety of foods. We finished the tasting with a cocktail made from each spirit. (Note Norvegia Vodka was reviewed previously, and you can find that review here.)

provincial-vodkaFirst Impression 8/10

For the record, I prefer to snap my own pictures rather than use standard bottle shots. I think that my photos lend an authenticity to my review. Unfortunately, vodka bottles are extremely hard to photograph, especially in the winter when my back deck is covered with ice and snow. I tried to snap a photo, but the dreary winter background was so unflattering to the bottle that I relented and used the jpeg provided on  the Radouga Distilleries website. (Fortunately I did snap a decent photo of the bottle with my suggested cocktail down below.)

Provincial Vodka arrives in the medium tall frosted bottle shown to the left. The bottle is sealed with a synthetic cork and considering that Radouga is a new distillery operating on a tight budget, I think the presentation is just fine.

The First Sip  16.5/20

It was a very cold day in January when I held the tasting event with my friends to compare the different vodkas. I took advantage of this and left the Vodka spirits on my back deck to chill for three hours before my guests arrived. When I poured the Provincial Vodka the spirit had cooled to about 2 or 3 degrees Celsius. At that cold temperature the spirit was slightly thickened; but I would not call it creamy. The breezes above the glass brought only a few wisps of grain and lemon citrus into the air, and there was an ever so light hint of fusel varnish which was noticed by some (but not all) of my guests.

Despite the very light fusel quality, the first sip was quite smooth. I noticed a nice grain-like spiciness and a little stronger lemon flavour that the nose would have implied. As the spirit warmed the intensity of the grain spice increased. I began to notice that it was the lemon flavour which brought about that light fusel character, and that a mild metallic bitterness accompanied the finish. However, when sipped cold, these elements were largely in check.

Taking a shot  15.5/20

When my guests and I took a shot with the cold spirit we found the spirit carried just a bit of a spicy bite accompanied by a touch of alcohol astringency. As the spirit warmed, the grain-like bite brought a touch of burn to the throat and all of my guests could sense a lightly bitter metallic aftertaste that followed the swallow. We decided that we preferred sipping the spirit chilled more than the shot-style swallow, and the feeling around the room was that the spirit was nice if served very cold; but that it broke down quite quickly as it warmed up.

Out for Dinner 15.5/20

At my tasting I served pepperoni pizza, lightly spicy pepper pot soup, fresh french bread, a variety of cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, and jalapeno infused Monterrey Jack), mini smoked wieners and some salty crackers. The Provincial Vodka worked well as a palate cleanser when we sampled the salty and spicy foods; however, it seemed to have a negative affect on the taste of the bread and cheese. I also noticed that the vodka itself seemed to pick up more bitterness in the finish as we continued to sample the snacks.

I suspect some of what we were noticing was caused by the vodka warming in our shot glasses. As indicated earlier, the spirit tends to break down as its serving temperature increases.

Cocktail Hour 25.5/30

The final part of my examination (and that of my guests) was to serve the Provincial Vodka in a typical cocktail to see how it fared. The cocktail I chose at my tasting was a modified Cosmopolitan. In my mind a good vodka allows the citrus and fruit to express themselves in the cocktail which should be lightly tart.

Provincial Vodka makes a great tasting Cosmo. The cranberry and lime ‘pop’ in the mixed drink and the only small flaw was an ever so light bitterness which crept into the finish. I tried the vodka in a Gimlet (Vodka Daiquiri) afterwards and was likewise impressed. The spirit also works well in Vesper Cocktails, although in a straight Martini it does not shine as brightly. Some more serving suggestions are shown below.

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Final Score 81/100

Provincial is a nice Vodka which works well in bar drinks and cocktails!

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

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Suggested Cocktail

provincial-greyhound-sam_2943A nice refreshing bar drink which mixes Vodka with Grapefruit juice is the Greyhound. Add a touch of sugar syrup if you prefer a slightly sweeter libation.

The Provincial Greyhound

1 1/2 oz Provincial Vodka
3 oz fresh Grapefruit Juice
Ice

Fill a tumbler with Ice Cubes
Add the Vodka and Grapefruit Juice
Stir and Enjoy!

Please enjoy responsibly as well!

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lemon-lime-gimlet-sam_2946

The Gimlet is a refined cocktail which mixes fresh citrus with vodka or gin. When the citrus is paired with a good cocktail vodka, the results are quite stunning. Provincial Vodka makes a great tasting Gimlet!

Provincial Gimlet

2 1/2 oz  Provincial Vodka
1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
ice
Lime slice for garnish

Add the four ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a suitable cocktail glass
Garnish with a lime slice and enjoy!

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!

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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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