Signature Vodka (MASV)
Review: Signature Herbal Infused Vodka (MASV) (88/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 8, 2011
M. A. Signature Vodka is a spirits manufacturer based in Montreal, Quebec. They produce what they call a ‘Herbal Infused’ Vodka which is at its heart, a Canadian grain vodka, that has been infused with a rhizome herb called curcumin (a component of turmeric) also called curcuma longa. This herb has a distinctly earthy flavour. It is somewhat bitter, somewhat peppery, and perhaps a little like ginger or mustard. As far as I can tell it has many culinary uses including being used as an ingredient for Indian curry powder.
If you visit the Hang Over Free Vodka website you will see that it is the same as the website for Signature Vodka. That is because Signature Vodka promotes itself as an infused ‘hangover free’ vodka. In fact, the Signature Vodka website devotes a great deal of space to the hangover free concept, as well as other reputed medicinal benefits of curcumin. (Here is their promotional video.)
The nature of the Signature Vodka website (and their video) prompted me to email the company and try to get some more information about the herbal infusion. What I was told, is that the infusion is in such small quantities that the FDA, the LCBO and the SAQ could not actually find it using their regular lab tests. I will be honest and say I really do not know what to make of all of this; therefore my review, for the most part, ignores the herbal infusion and instead concentrates on the merits of this spirit as a Premium Vodka.
The First Impression 9.5/10
Wow, is this ever a nice bottle! I love the way it looks like it has been chiseled out of an ice block. The only quibble I have is the colour of the label/logo. The yellow/orange lettering just doesn’t pop out the way it could. But, that chiseled look to the bottle is spectacular.
The First Sip 17/20
I had four friends over for my initial tasting session with the Signature Vodka. As we usually do, we had a flight of several Vodkas we were comparing, and for this session, we were tasting a sugar-cane vodka from Belize, another Canadian Grain vodka and a Ukrainian Grain Vodka all in the same flight. I had placed the Vodkas in the freezer earlier that morning, and served the spirits at a temperature of about 1 degree Celsius.
We all noticed how there was very little aroma apparent in the glass, and only wisps of flavour which resembled a faint touch of lemon and a mild citrus spiciness. After the sip, a nice feeling of warmth was imparted to the back of the mouth and into the throat. The Vodka is soft, mild, and very nice. What none of us noticed was any flavour at all from the ‘herbal’ infusion.
Taking a Shot 16.5/20
As we all took our first full swallow of the Signature Vodka, my friend Lucas was the first to remark how clean, and smooth the spirit was in the throat. It imparts a light rye-like warmth which teases the palate, and warms the throat. I did not notice any burn at this cold serving temperature; however, a slow building spicy warmth seemed to grow in my throat afterwards. My friends all had similar experiences to mine, and we all liked that spicy warmth which followed the shot of vodka.
I also sampled the Signature Vodka at warmer temperatures in my private tasting room. I did begin to notice just a hint of metallic bitterness in the finish at warmer temperatures and that spicy warmth we all liked at the cold temperature becomes a little more vigorous with perhaps a thin burn at room temperature. It was still very nice.
Out for Dinner 17/20
For food pairing, my friends and I had a nice spread. We served warm slices of pepperoni pizza, some of those mini smoked cocktail sausages, fresh baguette and spinach dip, feta cheese rolled in pasta, and assorted raw vegetables with ranch dip. The Signature Vodka with its soft spicy mouth-feel seemed to cleanse the palate after each swallow, and I found I liked this style of Vodka served with food. Each bite of the bread tasted fresher, and each bite of pizza and sausage seemed cleaner and spicier.
However, I did begin to notice an ever so faint metallic bitterness creeping into the flavour of the Vodka as we continued the session. My sense is that the Vodka was improving the food experience when it was very cold, but as the vodka warmed in our glasses this experience diminished.
Cocktails 28/30 pts
The cosmopolitan I made with the Signature Vodka was really nice. It had just the right amount of tartness, and my impression was that the Vodka was not imparting any detrimental flavour to the cocktail, but rather it was allowing the other ingredients to shine and perhaps enhancing them. I made a few other cocktails, a Vodka Darby , and a Vodka Daiquiri and an Electric Lemonade. I enjoyed each cocktail immensely. In fact over the next several weeks when I was choosing a Vodka for cocktails it was invariable the Signature Vodka which I chose. This desire to return again and again to the same spirit for my cocktail exploits over the last several weeks is part of the reason for the high score in this section. It is an outstanding cocktail Vodka.
Final Score 88/100
A nice Sipper,and a great cocktail Vodka!
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
A Final Note:
I had a hard time with this review. I was, to be honest, put off by the webpage and its focus on the herbal infusion with its supposed benefits. Frankly, the folks at Signature Vodka should focus their efforts on promoting the spirit as a top-notch Vodka and its outstanding nature in the cocktail realm. By focusing instead on the rather ethereal benefits of the herbal infusion, I think they are doing an injustice to the quality of Vodka that they have produced.
Here are just a few recipes which are great with the Signature Vodka:
The Russian Soldier
This really isn’t a cocktail or even a recipe, in fact a Russian Soldier is simply well chilled Vodka in a large shot glass. I will make the point in this write-up that ice is not preferred. This is because ice can add bitterness as it melts in a glass of Vodka, especially if the ice which was made in your own freezer with tap water.
2 oz Signature Vodka chilled to just above zero degrees Celsius
No adding Ice!
Serve in a Large Chilled Shot Glass
Sip the well chilled Vodka slowly and enjoy responsibly!
(This is a great way to enjoy the best Vodkas)
The Blue Glacier
2 oz Signature Vodka (Well Chilled)
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
Add all of the ingredients into a metal shaker
Add a 50-50 mixture of cubed ice and crushed ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of your shaker frosts.
Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lime slice
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
The Harvey Wallbanger
1 1/2 oz Signature Vodka
3 oz Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 oz Galliano
Orange Slice for Garnish
Pour the Vodka and the Orange Juice over ice into a tall glass
Float the Galliano on top
Garnish with an Orange slice if desired
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.
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)