Zyntia (Extra) Vodka
Review: Extra Zytnia Vodka (85/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 30, 2016
Extra Zytnia is a Polish rye grain Vodka produced from 100% rye grain neutral spirit. The brand is considered ‘Retro’ in Poland hearkening back to the vodka spirit as it was produced a generation ago. Zytnia is in fact one of the oldest pure vodka brands in Poland and has been produced continuously from the same recipe for over 70 years. One of the most popular brands in Poland during the 1980s, the vodka brand saw its sales slump at the turn of the century; however, a new marketing campaign which is emphasizing the spirit’s roots as a traditional ‘old school’ vodka has reinvigorated the brand, and it is now making a solid comeback in its domestic market.
Extra Zytnia Vodka was recently introduced into Ontario (through the LCBO) available in the retro clear bottle shown below, bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
The First Impression 7.5/10
The style of Extra Zytnia is indeed ‘retro’ with a bottle and label presentation which hankers back to the vodka spirit which the Polish people drank a generation ago. While ‘retro’ might be popular in Poland, for myself, (and I believe for this market) the label and bottle perhaps look dated rather than retro. The metallic screw cap adds to the dated look making the vodka appear what I will term ‘bottom shelf’. Time will tell if I am wrong and this ‘retro’ look works in Canada; but I have my doubts.
(The spirit is listed at $26.95 at the LCBO in Ontario which is near the low to mid tier range for economy vodka in the Canadian Market.)
The First Sip 17/20
When I tasted Extra Zytnia for the first time, I sampled the spirit in conjunction with two other brands, another 100 % rye vodka, Belvedere, and a five times distilled potato vodka from Norway, Norvegia. Of the three spirits, Extra Zytnia was the least expensive, and I was curious as to how it would stand up to the more premium brands.
I sampled each Vodka chilled to about 2 degrees Celsius. At the very cold serving temperature Extra Zytnia was creamy and displayed a clean nose which featured a light grainy spiciness with hints of citrus zest. When I took a sip the vodka matched up well with the nose as the spirit was smooth and clean with a light spiciness.
I sampled the spirit twice more (on other days) at warmer serving temperatures (about 10 degrees Celsius and at room temperature). The spirit remained relatively smooth; however, as it warmed I noticed there were a few light vegetal flavours beginning to appear as well as a mild bitterness which crept into the finish. This is quite normal for as most vodkas show some degree of break down when they are served at warmer temperatures, and I need to point out that the Extra Zytnia did not break down nearly as much as I was expecting. Another positive was that I also began to notice light flavours of bread crusts and milk chocolate in the finish which were quite nice.
Taking a Shot 17/20
Next (during the first tasting) I took a larger swallow of the remaining chilled Vodka in my shot glass. The rye grain spirit was clean with grain spice, a little white pepper and citrus zest. There was perhaps a very light burn in the throat, but it was nothing that concerned me and may have been more a function of rye grain spice than any real alcohol discomfort. During the next two tasting sessions (at the warmer serving temperatures), the spirit continued to impress me. There were more noticeable vegetal flavours and some increased bitterness in the finish; however most mid-tier vodkas break down much more than this and perhaps it was only because I was comparing to Belvedere that I noticed any flaws at all. I would have no hesitation at serving the Extra Zytnia as a shooting vodka, and based upon the price, I would certainly be inclined to do so at a large gathering. (And the rush of rye spice at the end of the swallow is quite nice.)
Out for Dinner 17/20
I had set my table up with various foods to sample with the Vodkas I was sampling: cheddar cheese chunks, slices of spiced Gouda, smoked sausage, teriyaki chicken wings, lightly salted crackers, apple slices, and a small bowl of hot pepper pot soup. I have made the point before that a good vodka will cleanse the palate between bites allowing you to enjoy the flavours of the food more thoroughly. Extra Zytnia is a good vodka! The food tasted nice after each swallow, and the rye spice finish the vodka displayed kept my palate clear. I particularly liked the Gouda cheese and the pepper pot soup pairings although the other pairing were nice as well. It was only as the vodka warmed during the tasting that I noticed anything untoward as this did bring a mild bitterness forward. However with a well chilled bottle, I would again have no problem serving the Extra Zytnia at any gathering of friends or family.
Cocktail Hour 26.5/100
I served Vodka Gimlets with each of the Vodka Spirits during my initial tasting session. The Extra Zytnia Vodka made a nice gimlet which carried a hint of sweetness in the flavour. Afterwards I made a Classic Dry Martini and was happy with the flavour which highlighted the grapefruit peel garnish nicely. Interestingly, the vodka seemed to carry just a wisp of its own flavour into each cocktail. I appreciated the extra nuance.
Final Score 85/100
(A very nice rye grain vodka. The only real fault is the rather uninspiring bottle presentation!)
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
Here is a gimlet style cocktail which mixes fresh lemon and orange juice with a dash or Maraschino liqueur.
2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz fresh Orange Juice
dash of Maraschino
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
Orange Peel Zest
Add the five ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a suitable cocktail glass
Garnish with a strip of Orange Zest
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!