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Premium & Superpremium Vodka: The Topic

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thanks katie, cant wait to hear your report. i was expecting a more floral scent in this too. hopefully you can comfirm my thoughts. thanks


Grand Cru Productions

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any updates katie? im still looking into where i can find me a bottle of this. my local palces dotn carry it, nor does binny's, which is my old stand by. im think a lavendar and cranberry martini (ok, not really a martini, there's no gin in there right!?) using the Idol would be nice....

untill i find a bottle, i guess ill have to stick with the bombay saphire....oh darn! lol :laugh:


Grand Cru Productions

Private High End Dinners and Personal Chef Service

in Chicago, Illinois

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Alright, alright! I finally busted open my bottle of Idol and tasted it this evening. I chilled a little in a shaker and tasted it straight. My initial impression is that while it might be a fine premium vodka, it doesn't seem to have any characteristics that would separate it from any of the higher end grain or potato based vodkas I've tried. It had a peppery finish and no real floral or "grapey" aromatics. Don't get me wrong, it was very tasty, but a bit disappointing given the hype. I also tasted a bit of chilled Ciroc afterward for contrast and I definitely liked the Ciroc better. More unique and subtle. I like the Hangar One even more than that, but it is prohibitively expensive. I still haven't tried the Roth California vodka made by Ted Simpkins of Lancaster Estates, but I don't think I'll have an easy time finding that in my neck of the woods. Still, it might be worth checking out if the idea of vodka made from grapes really intrigues you.

Don't kill yourself hunting around for the Idol. It really isn't that different than Stoli or Belvedere.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Alright, alright!  I finally busted open my bottle of Idol and tasted it this evening.  I chilled a little in a shaker and tasted it straight.  My initial impression is that while it might be a fine premium vodka, it doesn't seem to have any characteristics that would separate it from any of the higher end grain or potato based vodkas I've tried.  It had a peppery finish and no real floral or "grapey" aromatics.  Don't get me wrong, it was very tasty, but a bit disappointing given the hype.  I also tasted a bit of chilled Ciroc afterward for contrast and I definitely liked the Ciroc better. More unique and subtle.  I like the Hangar One even more than that, but it is prohibitively expensive.  I still haven't tried the Roth California vodka made by Ted Simpkins of Lancaster Estates, but I don't think I'll have an easy time finding that in my neck of the woods.  Still, it might be worth checking out if the idea of vodka made from grapes really intrigues you.

Don't kill yourself hunting around for the Idol.  It really isn't that different than Stoli or Belvedere.

eh, thats disappointing. thanks for the preview. maybe ill just stick with the kettle one...oh who am i kidding i still want to try this. lol


Grand Cru Productions

Private High End Dinners and Personal Chef Service

in Chicago, Illinois

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grandcruproductions@hotmail.com

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If you like Ketel One try find yourself some Zyr vodka. I've sung it's praises here before. Best grain based vodka I've ever tasted. Period. Definitely worth seeking out and paying for.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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i will indeed look for this. Kettle one is one of my favorites, i like many, but it is what i turn to when making just a straight vodka martini with some blure cheese stuffed olives. the Zyr looks nice, just checked out the website. my wife will sure love the fact that its a russian vodka (she 100% ruski) lol. thanks katie

Cheers


Grand Cru Productions

Private High End Dinners and Personal Chef Service

in Chicago, Illinois

For more information email me at:

grandcruproductions@hotmail.com

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Katie, I know this is somewhat OT but I would love to know your thoughts on Effen Vodka

You know - I haven't had the pleasure of trying the Effen vodka yet. I've heard it's good, but not too many places in Philly carry it so I just haven't gotten around to tasting it yet. I'm actually more intrigued with tasting the Black Cherry flavor. If it were good I have some drink ideas for it. However, the Three Olives cherry flavor is considerably less expensive, so from a commercial standpoint it would make more sense to use that to keep cost under control.

I definitely love their ad campaign though.

"Give me an Effen Martini!" :laugh:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Katie, I know this is somewhat OT but I would love to know your thoughts on Effen Vodka

You know - I haven't had the pleasure of trying the Effen vodka yet. I've heard it's good, but not too many places in Philly carry it so I just haven't gotten around to tasting it yet. I'm actually more intrigued with tasting the Black Cherry flavor. If it were good I have some drink ideas for it. However, the Three Olives cherry flavor is considerably less expensive, so from a commercial standpoint it would make more sense to use that to keep cost under control.

I definitely love their ad campaign though.

"Give me an Effen Martini!" :laugh:

The Three Olives Blacky Cherry is a fantastic flavored vodka. quite smooth, almost robust, yet jammy cherry flavor. i would pick some up and try it for sure. its just as good neat as in mixed drinks. when im looking to try new things i always turn to the Three Olives and see what flavored shcnapps and/or other spirit works well.


Grand Cru Productions

Private High End Dinners and Personal Chef Service

in Chicago, Illinois

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Thanks dj, I'll keep that in mind. Next bar I'm sitting in front of where I see the Three Olives I will definitely order it to try. Actually, I've heard that all of the Three Olives flavors are quite good, so if that is true I can't imagine why folks are stocking other flavored vodkas that are 1.5-2X the price. I'd rather make a drink and charge someone 8-10 for it than 10-12 for it. The bar still makes money. The customer orders a second one. Win-win for everybody.

I was thinking of a Cherry gimlet as the beta drink. Cherry and lime go so well together, and it's a simple enough preparation that the flavor of the vodka really matters. Any other suggestions?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Any other suggestions?

I wonder how the cherry vodka would pair with maraschino liqueur. So, perhaps, a cherry Aviation? This is either one of the best ideas I've ever had, or one of the worst.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Any other suggestions?

I wonder how the cherry vodka would pair with maraschino liqueur. So, perhaps, a cherry Aviation? This is either one of the best ideas I've ever had, or one of the worst.

But I'm not sure I'd call it an Aviation seeing as how the gin flavor is crucial to that drink.

That said, it would probably be quite tasty. Cherry and lemon is a good combo too.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Any other suggestions?

I wonder how the cherry vodka would pair with maraschino liqueur. So, perhaps, a cherry Aviation? This is either one of the best ideas I've ever had, or one of the worst.

But I'm not sure I'd call it an Aviation seeing as how the gin flavor is crucial to that drink.

That said, it would probably be quite tasty. Cherry and lemon is a good combo too.

Agreed - I wouldn't call it an Aviation, either. If it works, you'd have to think up a clever new name.

Another idea: a riff on the White Lady (which, of course, is simply a variation on the Sidecar). The cherry vodka, lemon juice, and Cointreau? Now I want to get some of the cherry vodka for myself and start experimenting...


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Popping in quickly to comment on Ciroc. I apologize for not paging through the entire 12 pages of the thread. I bought some of this for making Penne alla Vodka (I can't use cheap vodka in this dish). And then I poured myself a Ciroc martini while cooking. It was my frist time tasting Ciroc. There are not enough "o"s in smooth to fully describe how easy this was to drink. My wife, who is not a fan of martinis unless they have enough frou frou stuff added to them even commented that this was one vodka she could drink straight if she had to.


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Ciroc is a very good vodka. But, Brad, I have to say I'm a little surprised that someone with your palate would say that you can't use cheap stuff for penne alla vodka and bought a superexpensive vodka like Ciroc in order to make it. Of course something like Popov might bring some off flavors to the table. But the next time I'm in your neck of the woods we'll do a side-by-side tasting and I'll bet you a hundred bucks you can't tell the difference between penne alla vodka made with $35/liter Ciroc and $11/liter Luksusowa. Of course, if you bought the Ciroc in order to use a couple ounces of it with the penne and drink the rest... that's different. :smile:


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Of course, if you bought the Ciroc in order to use a couple ounces of it with the penne and drink the rest... that's different. :smile:

Precisely.


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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The Ciroc is tasty because it is grape based, not grain based. Mauzac Blanc and Ugni Blanc, to be precise. The process is described HERE. Brings a whole new level of aromatics and flavors to the party.

No surprise to me that a wine lover like yourself would be intrigued and easily won over by it. It is very smooth stuff with subtle citric and floral overtones in the nose (much like white wine) and less of that hot grain "bite" that most other vodkas possess.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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As a Christmas gift I'm looking to make some flavored/infused vodkas in tones of hot (probably habanero) pepper.

Last time I tried this experiment I used a small bottle of Belvedere, which came out well, but I'm wondering if it's a waste of money to use such a good vodka when whatever subtlety it has is going to be washed out by capsicum.

Any suggestions on where a good middle ground is? I don't want to use cheap product by any means, but since I'm adding fairly strong flavors, mouth feel and nose are a bit more important to me than any nuance of taste.

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I'm curious, perusing this as an admittedly anti-vodka snob,

but my understanding is that Ciroc is simply a relabeled and softened grappa -- which is why it tastes good.

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We had a Yankee Swap at work today and I ended up with a gift set of Van Gogh Espresso Vodka and 4 espresso cups.

I have to say that the vodka was/is mighty tasty, and is getting my cocktailian juices flowing.

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Any suggestions on where a good middle ground is? I don't want to use cheap product by any means, but since I'm adding fairly strong flavors, mouth feel and nose are a bit more important to me than any nuance of taste.

Smirnoff or Denaka are good reasonably priced vodkas that work well for infusions.

my wife will sure love the fact that its a russian vodka (she 100% ruski) lol. thanks katie

My pleasure. Not sure if it's sold in your neck of the woods, but you can probably order it and have it shipped from one of the online retailers listed on their website HERE

Please let me know if you like it. It isn't cheap, but is certainly the smoothest thing I've ever tried, bar none.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Having read through this entire thread I am somewhat baffled by the concept of distilling a vodka x number of times. What is being gained by that? My understanding of how a column still works is that you just keep the stuff in long enough to raise the proof to where you want it (I know it's a little more complicated than that, but my brain is tired). So basically if you leave some fermentation in long enough, it becomes everclear. Run it through your brita pitcher and water it down and it's Vodka (oversimplification again, but this time for fun). If what you have after the first distillation is 96% pure, and thats the practical limit for purity, then what are you getting out of distilling it again? And is that even accurate to say that you did it again, considering how a column still works? If I'm not mistaken you can add and remove from an operating still at your whim. Somewhere in here I was originally going to try to make an analogy to solera aging or something, but I got sort of lost. Hopefully someone can see the parallel I was trying to draw. Sorry for the incoherent question. Evidently it is bedtime.

-Andy


Andy Arrington

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Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I could be wrong, but my understanding is that multiple distillations allow you to fine tune the process to eliminate more portions of the "heads" and "tails" of the product which contain fusel alcohols and other undesirable compounds

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but my understanding is that Ciroc is simply a relabeled and softened grappa -- which is why it tastes good.

This came up in another thread recently. Here's my response from there:

I would suggest that what makes vodka "vodka" is not the raw materials that are used, but rather the degree to which distinctive and characteristic flavor/aroma/etc. are removed by the extremely high distillation proof, filtration, etc.

This is to say that a spirit made of fermented molasses that was distilled to an azeotropic solution of alcohol and water at 192 proof, rectified through several subsequent distillations, filtered through quartz and/or activated charcoal, and then diluted with water to a bottle proof of 40% alcohol would not be "rum" due to the fact that the raw material was molasses.  It would be "vodka" due to the process used in making it and the end result.

You could substitute "wine" or "grape must" or "beer" or "fermented potato" or even "wood shavings" for "molasses" and the example would still hold true.

Also, for the record, Ciroc is not produced from a base of grappa, which is distilled grape pomace (aka rsidue from wine-making, including mostly grape skns, but also stems, seeds and some residual wine), but rather from a base of fermented grapes (aka wine).

Having read through this entire thread I am somewhat baffled by the concept of distilling a vodka x number of times. What is being gained by that? My understanding of how a column still works is that you just keep the stuff in long enough to raise the proof to where you want it (I know it's a little more complicated than that, but my brain is tired).

The reason to do multiple distillation (aka rectification) is to remove the non-ethyl alcohol components of the distillate. The first time something goes through the still, it's full of ethyl acetate, ethyl lactate, fusel oils like 1-propanol, 2-propanol, butanol, amyl alcohol and furfural, methanol and other such things. There are ways to minimize the presence of these components, such as only saving the "heart" of the run and all that, but it's pretty much impossible to run something through a still the first time and end up with 96% ethyl alcohol and 4% water.

So, one thing you can do is dilute the results of the first run and shoot it through the still a second (third, fourth, etc.) time. Since the distillation in the subseqent runs starts out with a much smaller concentration of "undesirable" components, the methods used to avoid these components will produce increasingly smaller concentrations. Think of it like cleaning a dirty window. The first time you spray on the cleaner and wipe down the window, there will still be plenty of dirty streaks left on the glass. The second time you spray on the cleaner and wipe down the window, using the same procedure as before, most of the dirt is gone. But there is still some left. After a total of 4 wipe-downs, the window is completely clean. In making vodka, most makers take this an even further step by running the finished distillate through a filter.

Note that I put the word "undesirable" in quotations. These components are undesirable in vodka for sure, but not necessarily in other spirits. The catch-22 is that in removing these components, one necessarily also removes virtually all of the characteristic and distinctive aroma and flavor components of the raw material. There are also non-rectificatio/filtration methods of removing some of these components that actually add flavor, such as aging in wood. Vodka made from apples, for example, will not have a particularly "apple like" flavor or aroma. This doesn't mean that vodkas made from different raw ingredients don't have certain characteristics that distinguish them, but they are minute, subtle differences. In addition, many of these differences are not actually due to differences in raw materials. One extremely well-kept secret of the vodka industry is that, after all the rectification and filtration strip away virtually any distinctive characteristics of the vodka, the makers are allowed to "add back in" tiny amounts of flavoring and aroma chemicals as well as mouthfeel enhancers like glycerin. So that "heavy mouthfeel and subtle hint of vanilla" of such-and-such vodka very likely doesn't come from their use of organic fingerling potatoes, 97 times distillation and filtration through the Shroud of Turin, but rather from the chemist's bottle.


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All very interesting, I didn't know that one pass through a column still wouldn't make it 100% pure. I did know a bit about the adding in and such, in fact I seem to recall reading somewhere that if Grey Goose had another grain of sugar in it, it'd have to be classified as a liqueur, which would certainly explain a lot about it's popularity.

As for me, I'll stick with the barrel-aged grains over filtered ones.

-Andy

Edit: Spacebar misfire


Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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