Category Archives: Vodka

Review: Glacier Potato Vodka

Posted on February 24, 2012 by Christopher Null| Leave a comment

If you’re making booze in Idaho, chances are it’s vodka made from potatoes. Who can blame you?

Glacier is a brand that has recently relaunched, using Idaho Russet potatoes and Rocky Mountain water to produce a very traditional vodka that is nonetheless distinctly American. The packaging is updated, but inside the spirit is the same, quadruple-distilled and both charcoal and crystal filtered.

This vodka has a very distinct character to it, one that takes considerable time to really analyze. On the nose, unique yet light tones of charcoal, wood, and a touch of smoke. Almost like an unaged whiskey. The body brings on more of vodka’s traditional medicinal character, but not in an overpowering way. It’s tempered with sweetness — like nougat — and a finish reminiscent of burning embers. That sweetness lingers, too, along with a refreshing but far from overpowering level of burn. It’s clean but also complex, which is what a good vodka really should be.

Glacier doesn’t offer hipster-friendly packaging or the street cred of imported liquor, but it’s certainly worth checking out as a solid “house vodka” even if you aren’t going to call it by name at your local watering hole.

80 proof.

A- / $25 / glaciervodka.com

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Posted in Rated A-, Reviews, Vodka

Review: Absolut Miami Limited Edition Vodka

Posted on February 11, 2012 by Christopher Null| Leave a comment

Absolut’s sixth city-inspired flavor takes us to the sunny shores of Miami, where no doubt plenty of vodka is consumed alongside all the rum that goes down there.

Absolut flavors this one with passion fruit and orange blossoms, two great tastes that go great together… and that go great together with vodka. The nose is heady with citrus, but it’s the distinct passion fruit character that cuts through the most succinctly. The orange is there in the body, but it’s an afterthought next to that really ripe and fruity passion fruit flavor. The body is solid, with a minimal medicinal aftertaste. Altogether it’s got a great balance of fruit and punchiness.

I’m a fan of Skyy Passion Fruit Vodka and this flavored version is about on par with it. All measure of tropical- or citrus-flavored recipes would benefit from using Absolut Miami in the recipe. Absolut suggests trying it in a Mojito or, one that sounds even more enticing, a “South Beach Breeze” with pineapple and orange juices.

80 proof.

A- / $24 per 1-liter bottle / absolut.com

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Posted in Flavored Vodka, Rated A-, Reviews, Vodka

Review: Iceberg Vodka

Posted on February 9, 2012 by Christopher Null| Leave a comment

A name like Iceberg comes loaded with connotation: The sea, salt air, the Titanic. Lots of maritime ideas in that word.

Funny then that Iceberg Vodka tastes nothing like the ocean from whence it literally came. No, seriously: Iceberg Vodka is called that because the water it’s made with comes from icebergs. (The company says the water, trapped in icebergs for 12,000 years, is ultra pure, 7,000 times more pure than tap water.) That’s the advantage of being made in Canada, I suppose.

It’s actually unclear what the distillate is created from — one presumes mixed, bulk grains — but the end result is a surprisingly clean and — inside the bottle — gimmick-free spirit. The nose is mild and indistinct, but that changes on the tongue. Here, strong vanilla notes carry the day, offering caramelized sugar character and a long, semi-sweet finish. There’s little sense of vodka’s traditional medicinal or herbal character here at all; this is a modern spirit with the funk wholly washed out of it. Take that as you’d care to… and go lick an iceberg.

80 proof. New packaging (shown below) as of 2012.

B+ / $18 / iceberg.ca

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Posted in Rated B+, Reviews, Vodka

Review: Yazi Ginger Flavored Vodka

Posted on January 21, 2012 by Christopher Null| 1 Comment

How would’ve thought this vodka, flavored with ginger and sporting a giant dragon on its trapezoidal bottle, hailed from Hood River, Oregon.

Flavored not just with ginger but also with lemon, orange, cayenne, and red pepper (not sure what the difference between that and cayenne is), Yazi presents a sweet, moderately ginger-fueled, and quite citrus-flavored vodka. It’s clean and, while not exactly crisp or particularly bracing the way raw/real ginger can be, it’s pleasant and fun to drink.

It’s not a particularly spicy vodka, but its easygoing nature makes it a fun way to add a little ginger kick to a cocktail that might otherwise use straight vodka or a citrus-flavored vodka. It won’t knock you down (for better or worse) the way that Domaine de Canton can do, but maybe if you’re drinking that Ginger Cosmo you don’t really want to be knocked down. You just want to have fun with your four, happy-go-lucky girlfriends.

70 proof.

B+ / $28 / hrdspirits.com

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Posted in Flavored Vodka, Rated B+, Reviews, Vodka

Review: VuQo Vodka

Posted on January 20, 2012 by Christopher Null| Leave a comment

VuQo is distilled from coconut nectar.

It is not coconut flavored vodka.

Distilled in the Philippines (that’s two firsts!) using updated methods used to make a sort of Filipino coconut tequila, this vodka is quite neutral and, unfortunately, a bit less exciting than the story behind it.

The nose hints at sweetness, perhaps with tropical overtones. But a sip reveals a vodka that still carries a lot of Old World medicinality in it. This astringency grows as you drink it, masking any of island notes it might have had on the nose. The finish offers a bit of relief from this onslaught, though. It turns back to sugar and, for the first time, offers a hint of the spirit’s coconutty origins.

Overall it’s a perfectly credible vodka, but probably one better served as a mixer than neat.

80 proof.

B / $25 / vuqo.com

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Posted in Rated B, Reviews, Vodka

Review: Ocean Vodka (2012 Formula)

Posted on January 6, 2012 by Christopher Null| Leave a comment

We first encountered Ocean Vodka, made in Hawaii from organic corn and rye, and cut with deep ocean water to bring it to proof, in 2008. Since then, Ocean has returned, and with a new formulation: Distilled from organic sugar cane instead of corn and rye. (For what it’s worth, Ocean says it is the only 100% USDA certified organic vodka made with organic cane sugar and desalinated deep sea ocean water.)

This has already caused quite a stir on the original review’s comments — where one person noted that there is no organic sugar cane grown on Hawaii — so when this new bottle of the sugar-distilled Ocean arrived, we asked the company what was up. Ocean’s answer: The organic cane used currently comes from South America, but the plan is to use as much Hawaiian cane as possible when an organic supply becomes available. So that’s settled.

Now, on to the vodka itself!

At first blush, the vodka has a tough bitterness. A bit of time in the glass clears this up, though, and the vodka reveals a pleasant but far from cloying sweetness. Ocean still hangs on to its vodka roots, with a bracing medicinal quality underlying the base spirit. But it’s the sweetness I keep coming back to — a clear and pure sugar note, laced perhaps with just a touch of tropical coconut. I’m not sure this vodka would be a winner in a martini, but in a sweeter cocktail I wouldn’t hesitate to reach for the Ocean.

A- / $37 / oceanvodka.com

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Posted in Rated A-, Reviews, Vodka

Review: Hangar One Spiced Pear and Maine Wild Blueberry Vodkas

Posted on January 5, 2012 by Christopher Null| 1 Comment

Hangar One recently launched two new flavors to its extremely well-regarded infused vodka line (Kaffir Lime is widely thought of — by myself included — as the best flavored vodka on the market), with pears and blueberries their respective inspirations. Both are naturally infused, colorless, and bottled at 80 proof, uncommon for flavored vodkas. Thoughts on each follow.

Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodka – The “spices” in this mix aren’t revealed, but let’s take a stab at what they might be based on nosing and tasting: Cinnamon, cloves, perhaps some ginger. The pear flavor — pears are sourced from Colorado — is authentic and has that subtle earthiness that apples lack. The vodka component has plenty of bite, but it’s neither harsh nor unpleasant, making this spirit a good choice as a mixer in many scenarios. That said, pears have never really been my bag. If you’re into that kind of mulled pear cider character, you’ll likely be a fan of this seasonal concoction. B+

Hangar One Maine Wild Blueberry Vodka – Did you know over half of all wild blueberries in the U.S. come from Maine? Who knows how many of those end up in this vodka, but it’s surely a lot: This spirit is pungent with blueberry character from the moment it is poured, blueberry hanging heavy in the air. The body is about the same, not quite as rich as I was expecting, but still deep and quite delicious, blueberries all the way and just a touch of vodka bite on the back end. I like it a touch better than the also very good Stoli Blueberi. Overall it’s a really worthy candidate as one of the best fruit-flavored vodkas on the market. A

each $30 / hangarone.com

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Posted in Flavored Vodka, Rated A, Rated B+, Reviews, Vodka

Review: Van Gogh Vodka Cool Peach and Rich Dark Chocolate

Posted on December 27, 2011 by Christopher Null| Leave a comment

Two new flavored vodkas from Van Gogh, both fully in the realm of sanity when it comes to exotic inspirations. Both are naturally infused and are bottled at 70 proof.

Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka speaks for itself, evidently desiring to challenge Southern Comfort’s place in the peach-flavored pantheon. The nose is authentic and bright, promising great things within, but the body is sharp and biting. The peach character struggles to get through the raw alcohol notes, and the finish is hard and flat. Van Gogh has much more interesting flavors up its sleeve than this one. C+

Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka is intensely dark in color (thanks in part to caramel coloring added) and again the nose is promising and curious. Chocolate, yes, but lots of coffee character, too. This continues on to the palate. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought this was a coffee liqueur, not a chocolate one, the flavors are that strong. Yes, chocolate appears here too, and it is clearly bittersweet in comparison to, say, a milk chocolate spirit, with a little wood char coming through in the end. More intense than most chocolate vodkas, for sure. B+

each $30 / vangoghvodka.com

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Posted in Flavored Vodka, Rated C+, Reviews, Vodka

The $3,000 Bottle of Vodka, Coming Soon

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Christopher Null| 4 Comments

This just in. No comment.

elit™ by Stolichnaya® Launches Its Limited Edition Pristine Water Series

The Himalayan Edition is unveiled as the first in the collection featuring Global water sources

NEW YORK, Dec. 12, 2011 – elit™ by Stolichnaya® (www.elitbystoli.com), the highest rated white spirit in the world(1), proudly announces the launch of its new limited edition vodka: The Himalayan Edition. This will be the first in the ‘elit pristine water series’, offering only 300 bottles for global distribution. Through this new venture, Stolichnaya aims to mark another pioneering achievement in the class of ultra-premium spirits.

Stolichnaya has taken great care to handcraft the elit pristine water series, a unique vodka of unprecedented perfection and exclusivity for the most discerning palate.  The quest to find the world’s most pristine water sources has led the company to the Langtang National Park in the heart of the Himalayas.

“With the launch of this first-of-its-kind, limited edition series, elit by Stolichnaya continues to raise the bar when it comes to providing superior quality, perfection, and taste,” offers Val Mendeleev, CEO of SPI Group.  “As a leader in the spirits industry, this is our way of providing our clients with exciting opportunities to treat their discerning taste buds.”

The water used for the first edition of the series has been sourced from the heart of the Himalayan Mountain Range. There, it is formed from the perpetual melting of snow and journeys through countless layers of rock to an internal reservoir. This water, of unparalleled quality, is then combined with the finest winter wheat harvested from the Tambov region in Russia. Situated alongside the all-natural Kershinskoye water reservoir, this wheat is completely free from impurities. These impeccably fresh ingredients are mechanically filtered to remove imperfections while maintaining the water’s natural composition and characteristics. And finally, this rarest of vodkas undergoes a unique freeze-filtration process to ensure no imperfections remain in the final liquid.

After going to incredible lengths to source the purest water, grow the highest-quality grain and distill it into the world’s most precious vodka, it could only be housed in a one-of-a-kind handcrafted bottle.

The elit pristine water series bottle is made from the finest, hand-blown, superior-quality Bohemian glass available, which is sealed with the exquisite gold-plated decorative ice pick. Each bottle is housed in an individually numbered hand-made, walnut carved chest. The unique character of the Himalayan Edition comes from the provenance of its wat