Discovering vodka. Part II

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My second Russian vodka review is also about the premium vodka (or just something like it) retailing at Moscow supermarkets.

In the first review I explained my reasons and tasting conditions. All they are personal and maybe controversial especially Vodka Martini cocktail as one of the criteria.

I hope it would be useful for foreign imbibers because I know that many of reviewed vodkas are exported to Europe and US.

Van Gogh Vodka

40% ABV, 0.75L bottle.
Ingredients: water, grain alcohol, sugar.

Van Gogh Vodka is one of two unflavoured products in huge range of this Dutch brand vodkas. The bottle design is based on Van Gogh paintings’ style. The brand is owned by Royal Dirkzwager Distilleries.

Van Gogh VodkaNeat

Nose: pure alcohol, no other flavours.

Taste: mild, with weak burning. A little acid and spirituous on the palate, it keeps the mildness nevertheless. Aftertaste is warm and short, a little sweet, with a light bread hint.

In the cocktail

Nose: strong alcohol with vermouth on the background.

Taste: full-bodied, noble and dry. The vodka is leading from the start to the palate then in the aftertaste vermouth comes to the front with herbal and wine notes. No burning, no acidity, amazing depth and transparency. Near perfect.

Opinion

Top-quality vodka. Maybe too sweetened and softened to be consumed neat – that’s the only disadvantage for me personally.

Excellent in cocktails, it brings proper vodka flavour and adds some power for cocktails.

Beluga Vodka

40% ABV, 0.7L bottle.
Ingredients: water, alcohol, sugar, honey, oatmeal infusion, milk thistle extract, vanillin.

Beluga brand is owned by Russian «Sinergia» company which controls some distilleries across Russia.

This brand is presented as elite one. Manufacturer called Beluga Vodka hand-crafted vodka made in the old tradition of Russian Tzars.

Beluga Vodka

Neat

Nose: strong, spirituous, with acid tone.

Taste: smooth, with some burning. It starts with spirituous flavour but soon it disappears so on the palate it seems like water – tasteless, maybe with some sweetness. Aftertaste is sour but not synthetic.

In the cocktail

Nose: weak alcohol, a bit winy.

Taste: smooth and sweet in the start, vermouth’s herbal dryness goes ahead on the palate hiding vodka acidity. Nice wine textures in the aftertaste, warm and soft finish.

Good Martini where vodka failed to lead though.

Opinion

Quite softened vodka. Being tasted neat, it lacks character. Smooth, pure and boring.

It’s good in cocktails where can make nice background but unconvincing in Vodka Martini.

Definitely, Beluga Vodka is overpriced but will be good purchase for a half of its price.

Russian Gold Vodka

40% ABV, 0.5L bottle.
Ingredients: water, alcohol, sugar, oatmeal infusion, wheat loaf infusion, flax seeds infusion.

Produced by Russian «White Gold» company among other brands of low price vodkas.

Russian Gold VodkaNeat

Nose: weak, spirituous, acid.

Taste: weak too, sweet and acid on the palate and with medium burning in the aftertaste. Also aftertaste is full of unpleasant synthetic-like hints. Finish is dry and acid.

In the cocktail

Nose: weal alcohol through vermouth aroma.

Taste starts with vermouth herbal flavours. On the palate it’s all the same. Vodka is just making a background for vermouth but it comes to the front in the aftertaste and brings all its bad features: burning and acidity along with excessive dryness.

Opinion

Weak vodka with indistinct unpleasant taste.

Bad when tasting neat. Average in cocktails but can ruin a taste when comes to the front.

Waste.

Russian Standard Platinum Vodka

40% ABV, 0.7L bottle.
Ingredients: water, alcohol, sugar, wheat bread infusion, sodium bicarbonate (E500), lactic acid (E270).

Russian Standard Platinum Vodka is the top product in the Russian Standard Vodka range. It has the same ingredients as recently reviewed Russian Standard Original Vodka but manufacturer claims that advanced filtration technology was used here.

Russian Standard Platinum VodkaNeat

Nose: pure alcohol, very light.

Taste: powerful at the start, pure and smooth, with medium burning. On the palate it becomes warm and spirituous but a moment later alcohol flavour disappears, and aftertaste comes very short, warm, with a light hint of bread. Surprisingly, this vodka brings no traces of acidity that I spotted in Russian Standard Original Vodka.

In the cocktail

The sip is smooth and spirituous, without burning, a little bitter and crystal clear. A light hint of vermouth appears on the palate – spicy, sour, winy. Vodka returns in the aftertaste moving vermouth to the background.

Opinion

Surprisingly smooth vodka with straight powerful taste. It successfully combines mild clear taste with classic spirituous kick.

Also the vodka shows its character in cocktails making full-bodied background and adding more depth.

Definitely Russian Standard Platinum Vodka is worth the money it costs. My choice among Russian vodkas.

Finlandia Vodka

40% ABV, 0.7L bottle.
Ingredients: water, grain alcohol.

Another big foreign figure on the Russian alcohol market. Stable high quality, wide distribution and reasonable price make this vodka one of two most popular foreign vodkas in Russia along with Absolut Vodka.

Finlandia Vodka

Neat

Nose: strong, spirituous, a little acid.

Taste: smooth, spirituous, with light burning. On the swallow it becomes sweeter but this sweetness quickly transforms to malt note in the aftertaste. Finish is dry and short.

Amazingly clear and mild taste.

In the cocktail

It starts with silky vermouth texture. Vodka enters on the palate and brings some power and light burning, forms a body for the cocktail. Vermouth comes again in the aftertaste with pleasant floral note.

It looks like lightest Vodka Martini I ever enjoyed. The textures vermouth and vodka created here are really the thing which wins over.

Opinion

Very good vodka, a natural choice for cocktails and drinking neat.

Maybe it too light but I don’t think that’s a disadvantage in this case.

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