Stolichnaya Vodka Tasting Notes

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

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!

Take a look at the Stolichnaya website here – http://www.stoli.com/

Patsy Christie and Maxxium Brands website – http://www.mixxit.co.uk/

You can purchase all of the above flavours and the original here – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=636

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

Eristoff Vodka Tasting Notes

I received a bottle of Eristoff Vodka (40%) from Russia as part of a competition I won involving Funkin Purees, and as a vodka I’ve never actually got round to tasting, I was pleasantly surprised!

 

Eristoff Vodka

You can pick a bottle of Eristoff up for around £15 so it’s in the same price league as Smirnoff and Russian Standard, but this I have to say is one of the rather better vodkas.

On the nose, it gives off a strong classic vodka aroma with a hints of fresh floral. However on the tongue, the vodka becomes very smooth, with the floral flavours still lingering around your mouth. It’s not as strong as I thought it would be and it gave a slight fire after-taste to ‘pick you up’. Its good enough to drink neat or over ice and would even work well with some classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule, or even a Vodka Collins. Don’t knock it till you try it!

You can buy a bottle of Eristoff Vodka here – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=7006

Funkin Strawberry Woo Woo Tasting Notes

A few weeks ago I won a competition organised by Funkin Puree via Bar Magazine where the prize was a bottle of Eristoff vodka and 4 boxes of there Strawberry Woo Woo pre-mix pouches. Never one to shy away from experiencing new things, me and my flat mate poured ourselves a glass with a 25ml shot of Eristoff and tasted a surprisingly nice drink.

Funkin Strawberry Woo Woo

The aroma of Strawberry naturally gives the dominant flavour, and the same for its taste. And that’s a good sign when you’re enjoying a drink that you primarily buy for its fruit flavour, and you know has got alcohol in it, yet the vodka doesn’t overpower it. It blends very well and gave a very smooth texture on the palate.

This is an enjoyable drink and one that im glad I have around 30 pouches to enjoy! I may also give it a try with different vodka types, see if it gives a different edge to an already great mix.

Check out my review of two other Funkin Purees – Passion Fruit Margarita & Cosmopolitan – https://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/funkin-puree-passion-fruit-margarita-cosmopolitan-tasting-notes/

You can purchase Strawberry Woo Woo’s here – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=7170

Funkin Puree Passion Fruit Margarita & Cosmopolitan Tasting Notes

Funkin Puree are a well-known brand of fruit purees commonly used in most bars and restaurants. When I contacted Funkin regarding the use of their purees back when I worked at Casa Tapas, they sent me 3 ready-to-serve pouches to try – Cosmopolitan, Mojito and Passion Fruit Margarita. The Mojito pouch has unfortunately long gone but today I review the other two classics.

Passion Fruit Margarita –

Funkin Puree Passion Fruit Margarita

I mixed the pouch with 1 25ml shot of Jose Cuervo Silver and stirred in a high-ball glass. As you can see by the picture, the cocktail would look a lot better with more ice in it – I only used two cubes for a short drink. As you can imagine, the distinctive smell of passion fruit hits your nostrils straight away and it seems to mask the tequila aroma. Upon taste there was a subtle sweet passion fruit texture until it hits your throat where it seems to release itself on your senses. You get the slight kick of the tequila but the mixer seems to subtly over-power it and I think it works well.

If you were to choose a tequila to go with the Passion Fruit or even the classic Margartia they have, try to edge for the silver variety. I think gold tequila may clash a little too much with the mix and take the enjoyment away from you.

 

 

Cosmopolitan –

Funkin Puree Cosmopolitan

This was hard to put my thumb on. The taste gave me a slight cranberry and lime on the palate, yet no hint of vodka (although admittedly that may have to do with the choice of the only open bottle of vodka I had – Co-op Imperial). The aromas gave off the same ingredients, yet they seem to mix quite well together. Don’t understand? I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s not the same Cosmopolitan you would order in a bar, and it doesn’t look like one either. But if you did a blind tasting of this, although a little thicker in texture, the only drink you would think is the Cosmo. I think it’s a hard drink to master in a puree style, it’s a little delicate if ordered fresh and is well-known to a lot of people. But I think they have just about done it. Its well worth a try, even if it’s just to check off your drinks list.

You can purchase the whole range of Funkin Purees here including Pina Colada, Daiquiri, Woo Woo and Bramble – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=5007

 

 

Cocktails at The Circle 360

I decided to swing by The Circle 360 for a drink with a friend of mine after work (this really is turning out to be my new favourite place!) and then came back later in the night with another friend who said he wanted to give it a try after my recommendations!

I’m not going to dwell on the bar itself – you can find my full review at https://drinksenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/review-of-new-circle-360-bar-and-taste-notes-on-jb-coke/ but i thought this might give you a better idea at the range of cocktails that they sell.

Lemon Meringue – £5.45

Lemon Meringue

An interesting idea, and one you may have seen in other high-end bars, where the drink is presented with a small meringue placed on top for garnish. It didn’t give off many aromas, although I think the layer of cream may be the culprit, however once you take the first sip, the mixture of Luxardo Limoncello, Licor 43 and citrus juices gave a burst of flavour inside your mouth. Once you start to finish your drink, the initial rush of vanilla and citrus is replaced by a more gentle zest of lemon which gives at a rather smooth finish. This is a cocktail that does what it says – it’s a lemon meringue pie in a martini glass. Classic British!

 

 

 

 

Vanilla and Apple Martini – £5.45

Vanilla and Apple Martini

My friend had a cocktail from its Martini selection and she chose a rather interesting combination of 42 Below Manuka Honey, apple schnapps and cinnamon. A simple blend of these ingredients gave off a rather strong wild apple in both its smell and taste – but don’t let that put you off. It doesn’t verge you on the cider category as the cinnamon literally drags your senses back to your cocktail. As the Lemon Meringue before, you will drink this rather quickly, and you’ll order both again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaretto Midori Sours

Amaretto Midori Sours

A bartender recommendation – an Amaretto Midori Sours. Initially, I thought ‘I can’t see this working’ but in reality – wow! It seems to be one of those blends that just shouldn’t, but it does so well. Made the traditional sours way and served with crushed ice, it was presented to my friend with a slight lime green colour and an orange wedge as garnish. It gave off an expected aroma of melon and almond which blended rather well, as did the taste. I found it quite hard to describe, the almond didn’t overpower the melon as much as I thought it would, it complimented it rather well, while the Demerara sugar gave it a sweeter edge as the drink makes its way through your senses. A drink that wouldn’t look out-of-place in any cocktail bar, i would recommend to give it a try!

 

 

 

French Martini – £5.45

French Martini

Another classic cocktail from there Martini range, the French Martini with its blend of 42 Below Pure, Chambord, fresh blackberries and a dash of Pineapple juice. Giving off a rich dark colour on arrival with a slight berry foam top giving off some fantastic rich aromas. Its taste of the tangy blackberries hits you initially yet a smooth and rather velvety end once it settles on your taste buds. All ingredients can be tasted yet none seems to overpower too much which makes it a rather well-balanced drink. The after-taste was a bit raw but i think that could be down to my dislike of fresh blackberries.

 

 

 

 

 

The Godfather – £4.95

The Godfather

This is my all-time favourite drink – a mix of Amaretto and Bourbon. Again a simple to make drink but with their use of Luxardo Amaretto and L.G. Woodford Reserve it gives it a more sophisticated edge over the usual and more commonly seen pairing of Dissaranno Amaretto and Jack Daniels. An orange peel for garnish brought out a rich aroma of sweetness mixed with almond and a slight hint of vanilla. Unfortunately being my favourite drink, it did go down rather quickly, but the taste was very smooth with a full-bodied sweetness, and not too strong as some of these alcohol only drinks can be sometimes.

 

 

 

 

Grey Goose Le Fizz – £5.45

Grey Goose Le FizzA contemporary cocktail was chosen by my friend named the Grey Goose Le Fizz. Marketed as ‘a classical new twist’, the ingredients of Grey Goose, lime juice, elderflower cordial and then topped with soda gave off a dazzling cloudy finish in what could easily be mistaken for a Smirnoff Ice (god forbid). On the nose it had an obvious mix of lime and elderflower, with the hints of vodka slowly making its way through, and that’s what i could say about the taste too. You can taste all the ingredients, but it’s like they arrive one by one, and just make the experience better and better! Now I have to admit, I’m not a fan of soda. I think it’s a pointless liquid that ruins drinks, and I personally feel that this shouldn’t be topped with it. Now granted it does taste ok with it as you can’t really tell its there, but it would be interesting to see it topped with ginger beer, bitter lemon or even champagne.

I’m slowly making my way through their cocktail menu and will be posting up reviews as and when. I’ll also be trying some of their champagnes and wines to see how they compare.

Round-up

Just a brief round-up –

Got back from Corks Out in Timperley today on the hunt for my flat-mates payday spirit buying – bottle of Goslings Black Seal rum. As always we had to sample some of the other dark rums on offer including Chairman’s Reserve and Ron Barcelo Gran Anejo! I also sampled an Amaretto, slightly more expensive than Disaranno, named Saliza. I myself bought 3 bottles of ale from Robinsons Brewery, Old Tom – original strength, chocolate and ginger. Personally, some of the best ales around.

Also recently tried the new Eristoff Gold, toffee and vanilla flavoured. I’ll be posting a full review of it A.S.A.P.

I also hope to be tasting in more detail the Goslings Black Seal, Chairman’s Reserve, the Polish beer Leche, the 3 Old Tom Ale’s, and the pre-mixed Jack Daniel & Coke and Jack Daniel & Ginger Ale.

Keep up-to-date with my escapades on Twitter at http://twitter.com/flowgomanic