Virtuous Vodka, a high-quality Swedish vodka made from 100% organic, natural ingredients will launch to the UK on-trade with a portfolio of four flavours: Blond, Bitter Lemon, Raspberry and Ginger. Made using a base spirit of Swedish rye, and with no added sugars or aromas, Virtuous Vodka prides itself on only using the best ingredients and methods to produce flavours that are natural and genuine. The result is a grown-up and authentic take on the flavoured vodka category, ideal for mixing in long drinks and cocktails.
Available in 700ml bottles Virtuous Vodka is column-distilled once and unfiltered to render a smooth and well balanced flavour. The resulting Virtuous Vodka Blond has a sweet, peppery scent reminiscent of fresh baked bread and light notes of fruit. Pure and smooth on the palate, there is a fresh, sweet bitterness and touch of spice, with a short and delicate aftertaste.
To create the flavoured varieties only natural, organic ingredients are used. They are added during a maceration process before the vodka is gently filtered, the resulting flavoured vodkas stay true to the flavour profile of the original ingredients, providing a departure from synthetically flavoured spirits:
Virtuous Vodka Raspberry Flavoured with organic raspberries A rich scent of aged raspberries leads to a striking and ripe taste, whilst a certain acidity and sweetness from the fruit balances the vodka. Matures with time to develop a more complex flavour, with less acidity.
Virtuous Vodka Bitter Lemon
Flavoured with organic lemon peel Intense aroma with a sharp and sweet fragrance, the complex taste of lemon-zest elevates the vodka. The juxtaposing flavours of sweetness from the zest and bitterness from the peel results in a modern lemon vodka reminiscent of bitter marmalade.
Virtuous Vodka Ginger
Flavoured with organic ginger A full and aromatic scent of fresh ginger is complimented by a strong and spicy flavour that carries a certain amount of heat.
Like any natural flavour, Virtuous Vodka’s flavoured varieties have an indefinite shelf life, a testament to the authenticity and realness of its ingredients and something founder Claes Stenmark sees as a strength, not a flaw. On the launch he comments, “As a company we believe in three things: true flavours, sustainable business and braveness, and that’s how we produce our vodkas. We’re excited to be launching in the UK at a time when venues and customers alike are looking for something authentic and honest, something we always strive to be. We only say yes to the real deal and no to stuff created in laboratories. Most importantly our vodka is made to taste, not to last.”
With its natural flavourings, commitment to only using organic ingredients, and fresh approach Virtuous Vodka is an exciting addition to the vodka category.
A new addition to the ever-growing gin category has got a local feel to it, with Chester being the origins to My Gineration and there selection of fruit liqueurs.
The My Gineration liqueurs are made entirely by hand in the village of Mollington, located just outside Chester, and are made using simple and pure ingredients – fruit, sugar, alcohol and most importantly time.
Creator Rosie Sedgwick has been making sloe gin for her family for many years (using a recipe given to her by a neighbour soon after she moved to Mollington) when a lack of sloes one year prompted her to experiment with other fruits. Later she gave a bottle as a thank you to a local businessman who had supported a village fundraising event, little knowing he was Peter Papprill the famous “Cheese Detective” of Pendrill 1651 Ltd. After encouraging words from Peter, Rosie decided to start selling her range, and still produces to this day.
With the use of large amounts of local fruits wherever possible (the sloes, damsons, elderberries and crabapples come from the hedgerows of Mollington), it creates an intensity of flavour which can be sipped neat or added to Champagne or Cava, or even poured over ice cream.
In 2009, the awards started to roll in, with Fine Foods Northwest acknowledging Silky Raspberry Liqueur, and in 2010 they handed one out to Gooseberry Liqueur. A collaboration with the Chester Whisky & Liqueur Company has created Orange Liqueur, with a Peach Liqueur for the Piste Restaurant in Tarporley.
As for myself, I’ve been lucky enough to try four from the range, so below, I give to you all my tasting notes.
My Gineration Damson Gin Liqueur– 17%
A slow release of subtle damson aromas on the nose, with a sharp kick of damson on the tongue resulting in a slight sourness. A freshness develops into a mouth-watering reaction, but a rather short finish.
My Gineration Silky Raspberry Liqueur– 17%
Fresh raspberries on the nose, with lots of deep, bold, ripe flavours mixing well. A rather subtle taste of raspberry on the palate, and not as bold as the nose originally suggested.
My Gineration Sloe Gin Liqueur – 17.2%
Very light and fresh on the nose that leads to a bold offering of sloe berries on the palate with a hint of sweetness that creates a long lingering finish.
My Gineration Gooseberry Liqueur– 16.9%
Lots of fresh, ripe gooseberries on the nose that creates a rather potent aroma. A very strong finish on the palate with a good hit of gooseberry and lots of sweetness. A little dry near the end.
So four very good choices, with my personal favourite being the sloe gin liqueur. However i can see the Damson working rather well in a Kir Royale and the Raspberry being used to create a Berry Variation–
With plenty of other flavours available, including cranberry, blueberry, passionfruit and elderberry, as well as some quirky fruits like prune, crabapple and even a Christmas pudding flavour, and an upcoming Tayberry liqueur, their seems to be plenty to experiment with.
Rosie even has the Wedding market tapped, with exclusive offers to have the My Gineration flavours as part of your wedding day festivities!
Click here to be directed to the My Gineration website.
Another event I took part in at the recent London Cocktail Week was hosted by Maxxium Brands at the Soho based Zenna Bar. Patsy Christie was our host as she talked about the Russian vodka Stolichnaya and 4 of their flavoured offerings – vanilla, citrus, raspberry and the new apple flavour.
Before I come onto the tasting profiles of the 5 spirits, a little history of Stolichnaya first.
Stolichnaya begins with its origins in the Moscow Distillery Crystal (or Moscow State Wine Warehouse No. 1). The distillery opened in 1901 by the Russian authorities to ensure higher quality vodka production. The birth of Stolichnaya itself though is surrounded in confusion. 1948 is the earliest confirmed production date of the vodka, yet the label design clearly predates this to 1946. There are also rumours that it was created by V.G. Svirida who was the extra-class distiller at the time of 1944. There is also a trademark patent dated 1938 of Stolichnaya.
In 1953 however, Stolichnaya was introduced on the international trade show in Bern and received a gold medal, the first of many. In 1972, the PepsiCo company struck an agreement with the then government of the Soviet Union. The deal involved PepsiCo being granted exportation and Western marketing rights to Stolichnaya vodka in exchange for importation and Soviet marketing of Pepsi-Cola (This exchange led to Pepsi-Cola being the first foreign product sanctioned for sale in the U.S.S.R.).
After the downfall of the Soviet Union, Stolichnaya vodka continued to be produced for export in several of the ex-Soviet republics. Because of this, the bottles retained their Soviet-era labels.
One of the most famous and long-winded legal battles began in August 1991. The Soviet patent office revoked the Soviet agency’s right to use the Stolichnaya name in Russia. This led to numerous lawsuits, including what companies could market vodka under this name in the United States. On November 20, 1992, a federal judge ruled that PepsiCo would maintain the exclusive right to the name in the United States, as allowing others to market under the name would bring a “risk of irreparable harm” to the trademark. Since 2001, Stolichnaya trademark has been an object of a dispute between the SPI Group and the government of Russia. In 2002, a Moscow court ruled that Russia would get back the rights to the Stolichnaya brand name from Soyuzplodimport (SPI). In 2009, William Grant & Sons USA signed an agreement to distribute Stolichnaya in the USA, taking over the deal made by PepsiCo.
So with a brief, and sometimes colourful history, how is Stolichnaya produced? Created in a town named Tambov, located in the Black Earth Region of Russia, the fermentation of Stolichnaya starts with wheat and rye grains as well as artesial water from the Russian city of Samara located in the Kaliningrad region. The fermentation process takes around 60 hours to be completed. Once fermentation is complete the resulting liquid is distilled four times to a strength of 96.4% ABV. The spirit is then diluted to bottling strength with more artesial well water. It is then filtered through quartz, sand, activated charcoal, and finally through woven cloth.
So with all this in mind, below are my tasting notes on Stolichnaya itself, as well as 4 of their flavoured vodkas.
Stolichnaya Red – 40%
On the nose, a potent strong alcohol smell is instantly recognisable with a sharp citrus kick following. The aromas mellow out fairly quickly into scents of almond and aniseed. A smooth taste of aniseed on the palate, with a slight harshness on the tongue. Floral extracts are noticeable with a tingle after-taste to wet the appetite for more.
Stolichnaya Vanil – 37.5%
An intense vanilla flavour on the nose dominates the senses, yet smooths out once it hits the palate. A lengthy finish follows a delicate and soft offering of Madagascan and Indonesian vanilla beans.
Stolichnaya Gala Applik – 37.5%
The nose experiences fresh red apple flavours with a slight juicy, alcohol aroma mixed in. A slight rawness on the beginning with a slight hint of pear. It leads to a short end with a little dryness on the tongue.
Stolichnaya Citros – 37.5%
A softer hit of citrus flavours than Absolut, a sweetness comes through with hints of Limonchello aromas following. A mellow beginning on the tongue turns into a heavy dose of lemon, but not enough to ruin the palate.
Stolichnaya Razberi – 37.5%
A great raspberry aroma on the nose that gives off fresh extracts. Wild menthol flavours on the palate, with hints of cherry mixed in to give a slightly stronger taste to the rest of the range.
Moving on from the Stolichnaya tasting, Patsy created for us all 3 different cocktails involving the Stolichnaya products.
Moscow Mule using Stolichnaya Red
Secret Orchard using Stolichnaya Apple
Raspberri Caiproska using Stolichnaya Raspberry
My favourite out of the three made was the aptly named Secret Orchard. A blend of Stolichnaya Apple (50ml), Elderflower (15ml) and Creme de Fraise (15ml) shaken and strained into a Martini glass. Perfection!
A twist that Patsy also put on the Raspberri Caiproska was the use of Balsamic Vinegar drizzled on top of the finished product. Looked great, tasted even greater!
Finishing the night off with cocktails from a brand that, I have to admit, I’ve never really given much time for, was a fantastic end. A bottle of Stolichnaya Apple sits proudly on my shelf with Secret Orchards being sipped away on these long Winter nights!
With 37 available flavours on the market, it might take you a while to taste them all, but I can guarantee you, the apple and vanilla flavours are personal highlights. You will not be disappointed.
OTHER STOLICHNAYA EXPRESSIONS
Stolichnaya Chocolat Razberi – 37.5%
Stong chocolate aromas hit the nose first followed by a bold raspberri scent. Lively on the palate with dark chocolate dominating but mellows quickly. A long tingle is created with a smooth, warm ending.
Stolichnaya Ohranj – 37.5%
Subtle orange on the nose with a slight kick nearing the end. Smooth on the palate with a little boost of orange that develops over the long length. A little sweet with a orange spice warmth growing nicely.
At the bottom of this article, a have posted photos that I took of Patsy creating the 3 cocktails. Enjoy!