Absolut Tune is an interesting entry in the beverage alcohol space – it’s not quite a hard spirit, and not really a sparkling wine, it lives somewhere in between. In an utterly unexpected move, Absolut has combined their signature vodka with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate, added carbonation, and packaged it in a snazzy champagne-style bottle. We’ve seen a number of interesting entries in the carbonated vodka space, like Le Grand Saint Sparkling Vodka, but Absolut Tune is one of the first major fusions of vodka and wine with added carbonation.
Absolut Tune (28 Proof / 14% ABV, $30) is clear in color despite the white wine in it (60% vodka and 40% Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc). The nose is greatly impacted by the wine and smells like fresh white grape along with a subtle undertone of dried apricot. Tune’s carbonation also informs the nose with a nice effervescence. The wine notes dominate the nose to a point where the the traditional notes from the Absolut vodka are hard to pick up, although they are there underneath. The entry for Absolut Tune is all white grape with dried apricot from the nose. There’s just a dash of sweet underneath from Absolut’s winter wheat but Tune manages to keep thing pretty dry throughout. The finish is very dry with just a hint of the sweet wheat from the vodka.
The carbonation levels are nice in Absolut Tune with tight, tiny bubbles that act more like a sparkling wine than a carbonated beverage. The carbonation does dissipate fairly quickly. It would be easy for someone to mistake Absolut Tune as some sort of sparkling wine as it’s very hard to detect the higher alcohol levels. Because it is carbonated, expect to feel the effects of the vodka much quicker than traditional Absolut, even at this lower proof.
It’s essential to serve Absolut Tune ice cold, where Tune is at its best. The warmer Tune gets, the less pleasurable an experience it delivers and the more it tastes like warm white wine. Absolut Tune does make a nice stand-in for champagne for many of the classic bubbly-driven cocktails including the mimosa, bellini, and French 75. It’s also interesting with whiskey in the Seelbach cocktail. But we’re not sure that bartenders are going to swap out their bottle of lower priced bubbly for this $30 bottle of vodka wine fusion.
Absolut Tune really could find traction in the nightclub and bottle service world. Pernod Ricard has done a superb job with the packaging on Absolut Tune, with a reveal wrapper that opens to show off an absolut-ly (excuse the pun) stunning bottle. Combined with the champagne-style cork and enclosure, opening a bottle of Absolut Tune is an event. Absolut Tune also straddles the line with the ready to drink world, as in many ways it’s technically a ready to drink vodka/wine cocktail. The essential element here is that it’s really treated more like a bottle of sparkling wine than vodka, and so would ideally be consumed close to when it is opened.
Absolut Tune still exists in an odd space. It’s clear that there’s a slowly developing carbonated vodka space, but Tune isn’t really a carbonated vodka. On its other flank, Cava has exploded in popularity and is a sparkling wine that can often be found under the price of Tune. It’s difficult to think in the long term, outside of nightclub bottle service, where Tune is going to find real traction. Absolut has done a superb job of innovating a nice product with exceptional packaging, but the question is, will anyone buy it?