November 8, 2005
We've gotten our hands on a bottle of Level Vodka, Absolut's entry into the super-premium vodka market, which we told you about last week. We were immediately impressed with the packaging, with the frosted bottle that definitely putting us in the mind to increase our own vodka level. Level is Absolut's effort to take a swing at other ultra-premium brands like Belvedere and Grey Goose, but can it reach the same...ahem...level as its established competitors?
We'll let you know if it measures up to other high-end vodkas, and flatten out a few cocktails, when we do a full review. For now, you'll have to entertain yourself by visiting the Level Vodka site.
November 4, 2005
Women in Kiev, Ukraine will soon be able to enjoy vodka of their very own with the launch of La Femme Vodka, a flavored vodka designed to heed the tastes of the fairer sex. Some would say it's not true vodka because it's mixed with fruit juices, but the creators claim otherwise.
(a) top quality spirit is used in production and the mixture is filtered seven times for greater purification.
The drinks creators tried to heed the taste of the fairer sex, who are said to generally prefer their vodka with juice, adding peach, cherry, grapefruit and apple juices to eastern Europe's most recognized export. Its producers, however, insist that the new concoction is indeed a vodka and not a cocktail.
We'll leave the final verdict up to you, but we're pretty sure if you mix something with vodka, it becomes a vodka cocktail. And we'll stand by that...unless the ladies in our lives tell us otherwise.
Read the full story at Moldova.org.
November 3, 2005
If you ask most people about the place they most associate with vodka, they're likely to answer "Russia." I mean the word itself is a diminutive of the Russian word for water. But while we've tried and reviewed vodkas hailing from Poland to Texas, we haven't reviewed any Russian vodka yet. That's something that's going to change since we've gotten our hands on a bottle of Ikon Vodka.
We're comic book fans here at Liquor Snob, and we're suckers for a cool origin story. Here's the one we found at the Ikon site:
IKON Vodka was born in 1862, when Vassil Vassilivitch Alexandrov, a merchant of the First Guild, was awarded an imperial license to produce superior vodka, for the Russian nobility. IKON Vodka's reputation spread across the Russian Empire. The rest of Europe also recognized the excellence of this vodka. Ultimately Ikon would capture 7 gold medals at International Exhibitions in Barcelona, Paris and London.
We're not sure if old Vassil could leap a tall building in a single bound, but he made vodka, so he's a superman in our eyes. We'll post a review as soon as we can, and for now you can check out the Ikon Vodka site
November 2, 2005
We've been seeing print and TV ads for Level Vodka for a little while now, and they made us intrigued enough to do some research. What we've been able to come up with is that this is Absolut's foray into the super-premium vodka market, imported from Sweden. We're intrigued by their creation process, which involves two types of distillation, continuous and batch. Their website says "some vodka makers settle for distilling their vodka two to four times, but the continuous process pioneered by Absolut repeats the process thousands of times."
So are the distillation methods a gimmick, or do they actually mean something? We're not sure, but the site says one process is for purity and the other adds character. We like both of those, and with the price tag we've been seeing on Level bottles we hope it lives up to the claims. We'll plan to get a bottle as soon as we can and get back to you with our findings.
Until then, learn more about it at LevelVodka.com.
October 19, 2005
Tito's Handmade Vodka
80 Proof, Corn-based Texas Vodka
Typical Price: Under $20 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Availability: Tito's is available in 40 states; check their website for availability in your state or buy it online
Initial Thoughts: We've been big fans of all the vodkas we've reviewed so far, but there's something very special about this one. We're going to keep our review clean, simple and straight to the point, just like Tito's.
Cocktail Recipes: Tito's is the only vodka we've reviewed so far that we preferred straight; all we needed was a slight chill from the freezer. It was also tasty on the rocks, or mixed in drinks, but it just felt right to drink it on its own. There was very little nose, which is rare for vodkas, which in our experience tend to have at least a whiff of alcoholic tang.
As for the taste, it was straightforward and mostly prevalent on the front of the tongue, with of a woody or herbal back end. Very clean, very pure, very tasty. We suppose this is the advantage to distilling your liquor six times, and we finally understand why this stuff has been so lavished with praise from everyone who's tried it.
Finishing Thoughts:We're going to go out on a limb and say Tito's vodka is the smoothest we've ever tasted. That's not to say there's no better vodka out there, but between the taste and the price, which is an added bonus of a small company with low overhead and no importing costs, we're Tito's converts. We can't think of any reason, barring two broken legs and a restraining order from the liquor store, why we won't always have a bottle of Tito's in our cabinet.
Learn more about Tito's vodka, and by all means, go out and get a bottle of your own. Buy Tito's online at Internet Wines and Spirits.
October 18, 2005
Tommy Guns Vodka
80 Proof, Imported Polish Rye Vodka
Typical Price: About $25 for a frosted 750 ml bottle; about $50 for machine gun-shaped bottle - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Availability: Currently you can buy bottles all over Illinois, and in 13 other states; check with your local liquor store to learn where to find it. We had the best luck finding it in online liquor stores, and the Roaring20s.net site has an online store of its own on the way.
Initial Thoughts: There is something ineffably cool about Al Capone. Sure, he was a thug and a gangster, but he had a knack for giving people what they wanted, as long as they wanted booze...or a baseball bat to the back of the skull. Of course, we're basing that impression solely on DeNiro's representation of him in The Untouchables.
That same vibe of inscrutable coolness permeates Tommy Guns Vodka. When we tried it straight, it had a mellow nose that made us think of a cool breeze blowing down a Chicago street. On the tongue, it was as warm as hot jazz on a chilly night. Sure it's evocative of the '20s, but this is no bathtub affair...Tommy Guns vodka belongs on the top shelf.
Cocktail Recipes: While we liked this vodka on the rocks, it also made some great cocktails. In fact, it had the potential to be as dangerous as a real machine gun, because once you stirred it with the mixer, it was so smooth it was easy to forget there was booze in there. We preferred it in a simple vodka tonic, and it made a spectacular Bloody Mary.
The Roaring 20s site also recommends some other Tommy Guns drink recipes, which we haven't tried yet, but we're sure we will. Shake each with ice, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Here are some of our favorites:
The "Scarface" Al Capone Martini: 1.5oz Tommy Guns Vodka, .5oz Chilled Espresso, .5oz Remy Martin, .5oz Kahlua.
The "Godfather" Martini: 1.5oz Tommy Guns Vodka, .5oz Sambuca, Splash of Sweet Vermouth.
The "Untouchable" Hotshot: 1oz Tommy Guns Vodka, .25oz Lemoncello. Serve this shot with a wedge of lemon generously sprinkled with sugar; suck the lemon before doing the shot.
More Tommy Guns Martini Recipes (pdf)
Finishing Thoughts: All in all, we found Tommy Guns vodka to be much like its namesake - cool to the touch when you first pick it up, but smoky hot when it goes to work. This is one that's definitely worth getting your hands on, even if you don't spring for the machine gun-shaped novelty bottle. But like we told you before, that bottle is damned cool too.
Learn more at TommyGunsVodka.com.
Maine is known for its potatoes, and finally someone from Vacationland has come up with an idea for spuds we can really sink our teeth into.
Normally, we don't ask for much from our potatoes. Mashed, baked or french fried, we're pretty happy with them however they turn out. The Cold River Vodka company holds their tubers to a higher standard, however...they turn them into super-premium vodka.
The vodka, which will be on store shelves in a few weeks, is already starting to get local attention. We heard about it through the grapevine a few days ago, and they're already getting coverage.
After months of work, taste testers will help Maine Distilleries LLC decide this week on the final formula that will be on store shelves within a matter of weeks.
At $31.99-a-bottle, the company is aiming for the top of the shelf, and its founders are confident that their Cold River Vodka can compete with the world's best.
Learn more about Cold River Vodka at Boston.com
, or check them out at their Web site
October 17, 2005
80 Proof, Neutral Grain Black Vodka
Typical Price Around $20 - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Initial Thoughts: We have to admit, it was a bit disconcerting at first to drink black vodka. It kind of felt like opposite day, where up was down, Goths were cheerful and vodka was black instead of clear.
But we got over that quickly, and we were very impressed with Blavod Black Vodka. It has a pleasant nose, and while it's definitely got a bit of a bite, the aftertaste is spicy instead of the medicinal flavor you get with some vodkas. It was tasty on the rocks, but we enjoyed it most in mixed drinks, if for no other reason than the fact that they looked cool.
Cocktail Recipes: We tried a few recipes we found on the Blavod site, and we've included our two big favorites below:
Screwed-Up Screwdriver: Fill chimney glass with ice, pour in 3oz chilled tangerine juice, layer 3oz Blavod on top. Garnish with a licorice straw (optional).
Black Widow: Fill highball glass with ice, pour in 3oz chilled cranberry juice, layer 3oz Blavod on top.
Black Bull: Mix Red Bull or other energy drink with Blavod, serve on the rocks in a highball glass.
The Black Widow was our favorite, both because of the red-and-black look and the tartness and spice in the mouth. On thing to note is that while the layering looks extremely cool, having the vodka floating on top can make the taste overwhelming for less-experienced drinkers. We recommend serving these drinks with a straw or swizzle stick, so people can get the visual impact and then mix them up themselves.
You can also find a bunch of other recipes, including Ghosts in the Graveyard, the Black Cat and the Dim-Lit Gimlet. Most were more ingredient-intensive than we typically like, but many of them have cool holiday-related themes for your Halloween cocktail party. To find more black vodka recipes, go to the Blavod site and click on "In The Glass."
Finishing Thoughts: Overall, we were impressed with Blavod, both for the flavor and the look. It doesn't just rely on the ooh-aah factor of being a black vodka, and delivers on the tastebuds as well. We recommend it when you're mixing up a batch of Halloween drinks or just looking for something a bit different to impress your guests.
October 14, 2005
We're thinking we should start calling ourselves "Vodka Snob," based on all the vodka we've been covering lately, but what can we say? We're finding some really cool stuff.
The latest bottle we've gotten our hands on is Tito's Handmade Vodka, the only spirit of its kind made deep in the heart of Texas. Now, we're pretty sure that's tequila country, but based on the reactions we're seeing from Texas and elsewhere, it's good stuff. We've been itching to give it a try since we first discovered Tito's, and the bottle is chilling in the Liquor Snob freezer as we write.
We'll do a full review as soon as we can, and until we do, you can learn more at the Tito's vodka site.
October 12, 2005
Name: Orange V Vodka
Alcohol Content:76 Proof
Typical Price: Under $30 (750 ml bottle)
Most of the time when we try a flavored vodka, the taste falls into two categories. On one end of the spectrum, the vodka taste is overpowering while the flavoring is hidden away, waving to your tastebuds from a distance. On the other extreme, the vodka can be overpowered by the chemical flavoring of a convenience store popsicle. Not so with Orange V, an organic American vodka we recently discovered.
With Orange V, the citrus flavor is right out there in front, coating your tongue with an intense flavor of oranges. But we're not talking about the Tang of chemical orange flavors, either...this is the real stuff. We're talking Valencias, Mandarins and Tangerines; real Florida oranges and essential oils, making your palate stand up and take notice. To be honest, our reviewers either loved or hated the stuff - if you like your orange vodka to taste a whole lot like oranges, go get a bottle. If you like your orange vodka to taste more like vodka or the flavoring to be subtle, you may want to look elsewhere.
We're not saying the vodka is anything less than quality - it's a well-crafted, quadruple distilled spirit that happens to kick you in the tongue with citrus flavor. We enjoyed it chilled, and one reviewer swore up and down that the citrus taste was so pure they could taste the pith of the oranges after a sip. We also mixed it with fresh-squeezed orange juice to make the best Screwdriver we've had in years. It also tasted good, and developed a more delicate tinge, when we mixed it with mandarin orange-flavored seltzer water, on the rocks.
One thing we think is important to remember is that while it's important to test liquors under optimum conditions, there are a lot of vodkas that taste good when mixed with orange juice fresh out of the juicer. But it's also important to stress-test your booze too, to make sure it holds up under adverse conditions.
In a move that would probably make Orange V's creators cringe, we also mixed Orange V with Orangina, which hid some of the vodka's sweetness and made for a slightly more tart experience. We also mixed up a batch of Dumpster Juice, and we're happy to say Orange V held its own against some very sweet liqueurs.
All in all, Orange V was offered the most intense orange flavor we've had this side of a liqueur, without the added sugar. We recommend it both as a mixer in orange-based drinks, and on the rocks. We've also heard it makes Cosmopolitans sing, though we haven't had a chance to try them yet.
Rating: Four out of Five
Previously on Liquor Snob: Orange V Vodka Arrives for Review