I’ve recently been blessed with the chance to add one of the worlds premium vodkas to the sites growing vodka category – Belvedere. I’ve been using Belvedere lately as part of my spirit training sessions, and thought it would be only appropriate to recognise this Polish delight and let you all know a little bit about it. So here goes –
As mentioned, Poland is the home of Belvedere, yet has only been around for the past 19 years. Their distillery however has been in use for over 100 years. Situated in the small town of Zyrardów, west of Warsaw, two brothers – Dawid and Mejer Pines, established the ‘Żyrardów Polmos (Belvedere) distillery in 1910. The distillery was originally home to the production of spirit and vodka and soon after World War 1, the distillery was purchased by the Dauman family who ran the business until the outbreak of World War 2. Once 1932 rolled around, all the equipment was modernised to become one of the most technologically advanced distilleries in Europe at that time. At the end of the war, the new communist regime nationalised Żyrardów along with 24 other vodka distilleries, all renamed ‘Polmos’ followed by the name of the nearest town (i.e. Żyrardów Polmos). During this time, vodka’s including Wyborowa, Zubrowka and Luksusowa were all produced here amongst others.
After the end of communism, Polmos Żyrardów decided to create their own vodka that would distinguish them from the other Polmos distilleries. Belvedere was born. Named after the Belweder Palace in Warsaw, which itself translates as ‘beautiful to see’, it became the acid-etched drawing that embraces each Belvedere bottle. The first bottles of Belvedere vodka were produced in 1993, where it quickly gained a reputation in Poland. Around this time, the USA were in the midst of seeing a boom in premium spirits, and one American, Edward Jay Phillips who was a third generation liquor distributor, travelled to Poland in search for the next premium vodka. After discovering Belvedere, he created the Millennium Import Company in 1994 and acquired the sole US distribution rights where in 1996, Belvedere was launched to growing sales in the US. The distillery was privatised in 2001, where a year later, Louis Vuitton • Moët Hennessy (LVMH) purchased Millennium Imports with a 70% stake, and then fully purchased only 3 years later.
The production of Belvedere is rather a simple affair. Its base grain is a Polish 100% Dankowski Gold Rye, from the Mazovian soil in Zyrardów where it is slow fermented for several days. The raw spirit is distilled at several agricultural distilleries and sent to Polmos Zyrardow for rectification. The spirit then goes through a three column distillation process at the distillery. Belvedere use their own water source, an artesian well, where it is purified and then blended with the spirit of Belvedere until it reaches an ABV of 40%. The vodka is then filtered twice, once through a cellulose filter that will remove microscopic particles and then through an activated carbon filter. After filtration, the vodka is ready to be bottled, where it passes through 33 quality control checkpoints. As the iconic bottles are filled they are individually inspected and hand finished with the application of the famous blue strip stamp.
So with a rather localised feel to Belvedere, how does it fare? Below i give you my tasting notes.
Belvedere – 40%
The nose embraces light floral notes with subtle hints of parma violets and vanilla. A full, round, smooth taste of vanilla creates a velvet texture on the palate, with hints of white pepper and spice coming through near the end. A long finish of clotted cream and almonds is rather welcoming.
Belvedere vodka is also an award-winning product, having won two silvers and a gold at the 2010 Annual Vodka Masters. They also have 9 other variations, including five infused flavours (bloody mary, pink grapefruit, orange, black raspberry and citrus), an award-winning 50% ABV version named ‘Intense’, a special edition bottle (BELVEDERE) RED that contributes 50% of the bottles global profits to the (RED) AIDS charity, Belvedere ‘Unfiltered’ which is distilled from Dankowskie Diamond Rye and Belvedere IX which is a maceration of nine natural ingredients and botanicals – guarana, ginger, ginseng, jasmine, cinnamon leaf, sweet almond, eucalyptus, black cherry and acai juice. Hopefully I’ll be able to add all these variations to the site very soon!
OTHER BELVEDERE EXPRESSIONS
Belvedere Black Raspberry – 40%
Lots of fresh, dark raspberries on the nose with a strong, deep aroma. However rather light on the palate, with only subtle hints of the raspberries. Rather short.
Belvedere Grapefruit – 40%
Very fresh and ripe on the nose and doesn’t overpower the senses. Very light on the palate with a long, refreshing flavour of grapefruit.
Belvedere Orange – 40%
An almost perfume fragrance aroma on the nose, which carries on to the palate in much the same way. Very light and short.
Bloody Mary – 40%
Soft spice mixes well with ripe tomatoes on the nose, with a slight harshness at the end. A good balance of tomato and spice, with creamy textures coming through.
Belvedere Unfiltered – 40%
A slight natural alcohol nose, but deepens near the end. Soft and smooth on the palate, with a bold tingle as it finishes.
Belvedere Intense – 50%
Very clean on the nose, with hints of chocolate slowly released. Intense smoothness with an instant mouth-watering effect that creates a long offering.
Belvedere is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a reasonable priced premium vodka, and can be found in most bars and restaurants and mixing with the cocktail likes of a Martini or Moscow Mule. Below is a simple recipe to create at home, or ask your local bartender to create for you. Enjoy!
50ml Belvedere Vodka
15ml sugar syrup
20ml lemon juice
6 fresh raspberries or 20ml raspberry puree
Dash egg white
Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of soda and garnish with a raspberry.
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© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.