Grey Goose Le Citron

Type: Vodka

Origin: France  

ABV: 40% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4

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How to Make a Great Martini (featuring The Botanist gin, Spirit of Hven Organic Vodka and Lillet Blanc)

Martini

My interest in making a good martini was sparked in what may be the most unlikely of places. It was not in some swanky cocktail bar in Melbourne or London. It was in the tropical heat of far north Queensland, Australia.                                 

I was at the Nautilus bar in Port Douglas on a scorching December evening. The menu listed a selection of cocktails and martinis. A martini made with The Botanist gin caught my interest, primarily because this gin is made by the Scottish single malt producer Bruichladdich on the isle of Islay (with a still nicknamed “ugly Betty”, so I’m told). As soon as that expertly made icy cold martini hit my lips, I forgot about the tropical heat as my attention turned to the fascinating world of the martini.  

Continue reading “How to Make a Great Martini (featuring The Botanist gin, Spirit of Hven Organic Vodka and Lillet Blanc)”

Precious Vodka

Spirit Type:
Spirit Name:
Rating:
Vodka
Precious Vodka
★★★★☆
Score:
84/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Bulgaria
Theme(s):
Seriously smooth, presence in the glass, great mixer

Tasting notes:
Nose: The waft of alcohol meets the nose with some dark berry and cherry stones. This is very light without any overpowering character, and instead the creamy alcohol and cutting graininess shines though.
Taste: This is seriously smooth vodka, and that would be expected as it has been distilled six times. This would be a suburb mixing vodka, because it has the presence of alcohol without noticeable harshness or a dominant flavour profile that would dominate the other ingredients in, say, a cocktail. This is certainly uninteresting served neat, but I think if in a cocktail or mixed it would be brilliant and do a great job.
Finish: This vodka almost dances on the tongue and then disappears, as though I am sipping smoke (totally expected in a Bulgarian vodka… you’d understand if you have been to Bulgaria). Beautiful finish, with notes of sour grape in the end.
Likes:
Smoothness and subtlety that also commands a serious presence
Dislikes:
Uninteresting when served neat
Price:
$120 (Aus), £45 (UK),

Spirit of Hven Organic Vodka ★


Spirit Type:
Spirit Name:
Rating:

Vodka
Spirit of Hven Organic Vodka
★★★★★
Score:
90/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Sweden
Theme(s):
Diverse lolly-shop, tart berry, tropical fruit, candied fruit, creamy alcohol, earthiness

Tasting notes:
Nose: When it comes to vodka, Spirit of Hven know what they are doing! This vodka offers one of the most complex noses I have encountered yet, with masses of lolly-shop character and floral notes. The lolly-shop character is not isolated to licorice based sweets, but raspberry and creamy confectionary weave in and out of tart blackberry and over-ripe gooey mango. This is sensational vodka, deserving of the utmost praise. As the vodka rests the mango is joined by mushy yellow banana and thick cream as the clearly organic ingredients shine in the glass. Beautiful!
Taste: On the palate this vodka is silky smooth and it glides over the tongue gently releasing pulses of sweet candied plum and dried apricot sprinkled with aniseed. The alcohol is evident but not harsh as sharp graininess progressively develops in intensity as it gradually thins into a soft cloud.
Finish: The beautiful ingredients in this vodka shine on the palate, as it radiates with a gentle licorice based earthy sweetness that is not bitter by the slightest degree.
Likes:
Beautiful sweetness and earthiness, almost perfect balance
Dislikes:
Not much!
Price:
$50 (Aus, UK)

McHenry Puer Vodka

Spirit Type:
Spirit Name:
Rating:
Vodka
McHenry Puer Vodka
★★★★★ 
Score:
87/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Tasmania, Australia
Theme(s):
Fresh, light and crisp with sugary sweetness moderated by earthiness
Tasting notes:
Nose: Soft and supple, there is almost no noticeable alcohol in the glass. This seems to be characteristic of McHenry products I have tried (gin and whisky). It is light and fresh, with the burst of fennel mingling with tart under-ripe green grapes. As the vodka rests in the glass, the gentle waft of star anise develops with notes of earthiness.
Taste: This is beautifully distilled, because while it has a burst of flavour there is no harsh alcohol lashing the tongue. That star anise on the nose develops into black licorice based jelly bean but just as the sugary notes take hold they are wiped away by a grainy earthiness and an almost cough syrup character.
Finish: This vodka offers a warm and lingering finish, with bitterness remaining on the base of the tongue for a long while.  
Likes:
This is a fresh vodka that is crisp, light and wonderfully drinkable and interesting
Dislikes:
The cough syrup notes
Price:
$50 (Aus)

Crystal Head Vodka

Spirit Type:
Spirit Name:
Rating:
Vodka
Crystal Head
★★★★☆
Score:
80/100
ABV:
40%
Region:
Canada
Theme(s):
Big licorice based lolly-shop theme
Tasting notes:
Nose: The aroma of blackberry and licorice candy strips fills the glass, as the piercing alcohol becomes more and more subdued as the vodka rests in the glass. After a while, this vodka relaxes and its initial burst of alcohol dissipates and gives way to a sweet lolly/candy shop fragrance: licorice sticks, black jelly beans, anise seed and some mint leaves. It is also creamy, with some mild whipped cream layered with anise seed. As you can probably tell, this vodka is very “licorice” based on the nose.
Taste: An initial burst of alcohol is followed by some sweet creaminess as that licorice theme develops in the form of a stale licorice cube that has been sitting in the cupboard far too long. There is some initial sharpness, but little creaminess and while this would be a great mixer I do not enjoy it neat because it, in my view, lacks layers to explore.
Finish: Lovely finish develops with some bitter tartness replacing the sugary sweetness.
Likes:
This is very good vodka with a beautiful lolly-shop nose (licorice based lollies/candy)
Dislikes:
A little one dimensional on the palate I found
Price:
$80 (Aus), $42 (US), £40

Ciroc Vodka (Italianesque grappa!)

Score: 85/100

Ciroc “vodka” is an interesting creation, because while it is called “vodka” it is made from the French grapes Mauzac Blanc and Ugni Blanc and hails from the Gaillac region of France. It is distilled an astounding five times, and seems more like a grappa with a luscious but modest nose that does not give adequate warning of the elegant explosion of flavours to strike the palate. This is so much more than a vodka; it is more like a beautiful grappa with hints of mint, licorice and earthy flavours. Why has Diageo called this drink “vodka” when it is clearly styled like a fine Italian grappa that is distilled five times? Who knows, but I think sales have motivated this decision because “vodka” is a more common and therefore sellable drink than “grappa”.
Ciroc
Nose
Fresh mint and aniseed sway gently in the fresh breeze, as the smell of lush green vinyards and overturned earth meet with fresh lemon and lime. This brings back memories of weaving in and out of the surrounds at the local Italian club as a child, the gentle smell of herbs in the kitchen would meet clumsily spilt sambuca at the “Scopa” card table and dry wine at the bar as the fresh breeze swaying in the massive green fields carried the scent of earth and vegetation as we escaped to the bocce courts. I’m sorry, but I cannot see how this drink is a “vodka”.
Taste
Outrageously smooth, the Ciroc releases on the palate a symphony of fresh earthy flavours beginning with mint and soft fennel as licorice gently develops to add body and depth to the bouquet of spicy ginger and earthy herbs. Citrus like lemon and lime also add a kick. This is sensational, and I can only imagine how it might develop in an oak barrel!
Finish
With a very long finish, the Ciroc provides a burst of flavours that dance on the tongue late into the night.
Overall
This Ciroc is incredibly fresh, with flavours of the earth coming though on the palate and the finish. From soil and herbs to the distinct taste of rock minerals and underground vegetation, this Ciroc seems to bring together the flavours that have fed the grapes that in turn have produced the juice to be distilled five times. That is something quite special!
Thanks for bringing back lots of memories of Nonno at the Italian club! This Chiroc is, in my view, undoubtedly Italianesque grappa in every way. Although traditional grappa is made from what is leftover in winemaking (including seeds, stems etc), it is easy to see how spirit made from the first press can be a (possibly, depending on opinions) more superior version of this! It is made the same way as grappa and from the same base ingredient as grappa (grapes), but distilled five times and from the first press… looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck… so it must be a (premium quality!) duck!
Enjoy!