One of the best we have ever had – but priced accordingly.
Notes: This vodka is very atypical or iconoclastic in several respects. Produced in the Cognac region of France in Alembic potstills, (most vodka is produced in mass production column stills), it uses four rather exotic varieties of wheat, is distilled 9 times (a bit higher than most -especially using pot still- that makes it a magnitude of difficulty harder), uses Limousin French oak for filtration (most use birch if they use charcoal at all) and is micro-oxygenated like some Bordeaux wines (see the film Mondo Vino on DVD for more on that).
It also has the dubious distinction of setting a new high price in vodka along with Stoli Elit.This honor was previously held by Ultimat vodka- widely regarded as only marginally better than the 190 proof disinfectant you could buy in Russian drugstores for about 75 cents a liter but it came in a Steuben/Art glass type decanter, so we (again) approached this product with a healthy dose of skepticism – is there any vodka worth that kind of money?
Appearance: Bright, spritely silvery. A limpid shining pool in the glass. On swirling, it leaves a thin clear coat on the inside of the glass with a mix of droplets and long thin legs. Wonderful bright appearance.
First Impression: One of the softest noses I have encountered in a wheat vodka. Then it starts to change, I get some sort of coconut, oriental fruit notes, a little like Thai Massaman, or something of that sort. I suspect there are some subtle Madagascar or Indian spices lurking in the mix.
Taste: Plump, oily grain body glide past the tongue puckering the edges slightly and invigorating the palette with a spicy edge and nice lingering finish. Slight sweetness with the higher notes from a good wheat grain.
Drinks: Unlike a lot of vodka, this one should not be chilled much but served at a warmer temperature to appreciate it, likewise mixing it almost seems a crime. It really is quite nice sipped from a decent glass at room temperature. Martini was outstanding (with a twist). The complexity and structure of the vodka contributes greatly to the overall quality of a cocktail, but don’t bury it with other ingredients.
NOTE: Use Noilly Prat, Lillet, or Vya -all of which need to be refrigerated after opening for the best taste.
Bottle: Clear glass, roughly in the shape of a high end cognac decanter, heavy decanter bottom, easy to handle synthetic cork (so as not to affect taste), silk screened graphics. Each bottle is serially numbered. Distinctive look makes it easy to spot.
Final Thoughts: One of the most subtle and understated noses of a distilled spirit, great deal of flavor and complexity for a spirit that is supposed to be defined as odorless and tasteless. However it is roughly twice the price of Stoli , Avian Fashion Victim Vodka, and virtually every other vodka out there. If you are really into vodka it ranks as a must have for your bar or collection, if not, or you want something to mix with, give it a pass and load up on something less pricey, it’s subtlety would be lost on most.
Our value price scale does not work as well as we would like to reflect our thoughts in this case. For most, no, it is not worth the price, for connoisseurs however. . . Try to think of it as the difference between a First Growth Bordeaux and the lesser classifications. If you want the best, pay for the quality and enjoy it responsibly. Whether you share the bottle with lesser mortals is up to you.
Fast loading, but a bit light on information about the vodka and the processes (pictures of the still, grains, etc.,) would be more interesting than all the press citations.