“Polugar wine must be of proper quality. To determine it, wine shall be poured into an official annealing container where half of it should burn out”.
The above is a definition of “Polugar” from the Decree “On drinking quality” enacted by Tsar Nikolai I in 1842. In a nut shell, Polugar defines as half-burned out bread wine, a fantastic way of looking at the traditionalism from years gone by. A historical vodka from the Russian Empire, it was seen as the national spirit until 1895 when, following a decree of Tsar Alexander III, all pot stills within distilleries were broken up. It’s with this that production was to be converted to vodka, governed by licence from the Russian government and taxed accordingly.
Enter the 21st Century and we can thank a gentleman named Boris Rodionov, a vodka historian and scientist, who has reproduced an 18th Century recipe in Poland, as the ban is still in place across Russia. However, to add authenticity, the brand is micro-distilled in Poland within the 19th Century borders of the Russian Empire.
Distillation is performed within traditional copper stills (alembic) three times and use selected rye, wheat or barley, plus natural yeast and water for all their expressions. Purification using egg whites and birch charcoal is also used. Bottles are also recreations of Tsarina Elizabeth’s personal bottle from 1745.
So how does each expression fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Polugar Barley – 38.5%
Triple distilled barley grain. Light on the nose, with hint of coarse bread. Thin upon the palate, with a smooth, oily texture and plenty of fresh barley that offers a lingering, lively finish.
Polugar Single Malt Rye – 38.5%
Soft notes of dry spice, with hints of fresh egg on the nose. Very clean on the palate, with notes of birch coming through, followed by subtle spice that leads to a dry finish.
Polugar Classic Rye – 38.5%
Triple distillation of rye grains. Plenty of fresh bread aromas on the nose, with a slight note of almond present. Soft, with a slight sweetness, followed by a developing dry spice, egg and crust of bread that offers a bold finish.
Polugar Wheat – 38.5%
Triple distillation of malted and unmalted wheat. A clean, soft nose of wheat, with a subtle sweetness developing. Thick texture, offering a light kick of herbs on the palate. Lingering on the finish, with a warm spice offering.
It’s not just the classic base cereals that Polugar are proud to show, but also traditional flavours infused within. Based on recipes that use the natural essential oils of the flavourings, it nods to the traditional practice of foraging locally for ingredients.
Polugar No.1 Rye and Wheat – 38.5%
Dry notes of earth with slight aromas of spice coming through on the nose. Very light upon the palate, with licks of soft wheat blended with dry flavours of the rye to bring a lingering heated finish.
Polugar No.2 Garlic and Pepper – 38.5%
Bold garlic on the nose, with plenty of savoury pepper dicing through. Roasted garlic notes on the palate offer a thin texture. Lively rye bread with a long blend of the garlic and pepper on the finish.
Polugar No.3 Caraway – 38.5%
Plenty of herbal notes of the caraway on the nose, with subtle hints of fennel coming through. Lively, raw notes of coriander, with soft notes of honey sliding in, and plenty of caraway on the lingering finish.
Polugar No.4 Honey and Allspice – 38.5%
A lively blend of the allspice with the soft note of honey on the nose. Thin texture on the palate, with notes of rye, honey, and kicks of the allspice as it runs towards a long, warm finish.
A very interesting set of expressions, and can really add a twist to a classic cocktail –
Caraway Manhattan, Olivia Ryan
50 ml Polugar No. 3 (Caraway)
20 ml Byrrh
2 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir all the ingredients over ice within a mixing glass until chilled. Strain into a coupette and garnish with an orange zest.
If you’re intrigued behind the classic styles of spirits, and perhaps the more traditional taste of spirits, these are one’s for your drink cabinet for sure. With the versatility to be used within classic brown spirit cocktails too, your imagination can run wild with the uses. Indeed, Polugar even say that their expressions work great with cigars too.
Your new weekend tipple?
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. 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.