You have to admire a brand that is able to see that they are headed in the wrong direction and then make a dramatic course correction. This is the case for AnestasiA Vodka, which in 2012 released their product as a “sensational spirit” using a patented tingling technology. The results weren’t great and the initial release was met with strong negative criticism in the media, including here at Drink Spirits, where we absolutely panned it.
Undeterred, brand owner Yuliya Mamontova-Calian went back to the drawing board, scrapping the entire ‘tingling’ aspect of the vodka and refocusing on simply delivering a solid conventional vodka. Yuliya decided to stick with Bend Distilling as well as a corn base for the vodka, and opted to drop the tingling aspect all together.
Since its initial launch, Anestasia Vodka has had a visually striking bottle, a modernist, triangle shaped vessel that looks more like some sort of award than a spirits bottle. In the vodka space, standing out is essential, and Anestasia Vodka clearly does that. Ultimately, though, it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts.
AnestasiA Vodka (80 proof / 40% ABV, $42) features a fairly light nose with light citrus, vanilla, and white pepper. It’s a dramatic departure from the previous nose and a fairly conventional corn nose. The entry for Anestasia is very soft with light vanilla, powdered sugar, and a touch of lemon. In the midpalate there’s an addition of a layer of white pepper spice, but it sits on top of this soft mouthfeel that was established in the opening. There’s also a slight bit of minerality in the equation.
At the end of the midpalate the spice gets ratcheted up a notch, where it sharpens a bit. Fortunately, there’s some nice balance between the soft undertones established in the opening and maintained in the midpalate and the spice. A little heat gets added to the mix which helps drive a slightly dry finish that showcases a touch of minerality from the midpalate and then turns minty cool.
It’s hard to think that this incarnation of Anestasia Vodka comes from the same team and distillery that were behind the previous mis-step. They’ve managed here to address the issues of the previous release, and still produce a vodka with a cool, clean finish.
This turn around with Anestasia provides a very important lesson to small spirit manufacturers: a misstep can be corrected with a nimbleness that larger brands simply don’t have. While Anestasia Vodka may not have gone from worst to first, they have made a massive leap in their offering, enough to say that the vodka in the bottle now matches the unique and stunning bottle. 88 Points.