When people ask us what we think the “new vodka” will be (often in an attempt to assess which spirit might unseat vodka from its longstanding run as the top spirit), we not so coyly respond, “Vodka”. As we pointed out in our review of Ebb + Flow Vodka, there’s a real trend toward unflavored vodkas which present more of the flavors from what they are made. It’s not a dramatic leap for vodka drinkers who aren’t used to really tasting their spirit to one which has a nice subtle creamy or malty flavor.
A great example of this next wave of vodka is Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka (80 Proof $50). Made from Polish rye, Belvedere Unfiltered is distilled similarly to the traditional Belvedere, but it’s not filtered or polished . This preserves more of the flavor and characteristics of a rye-based spirit while still maintaining the easy drinkability and clean finish that vodka drinkers expect. Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka has a very soft nose with subtle vanilla notes backed with slightly yeasty tones. The entry has some nice flavor with the vanilla from the nose carrying through and accompanied by a slightly salty caramel. The spice from the rye really comes out in the mid-palate, but it’s not overly agressive or out of balance with the rest of the flavors in the vodka. The finish has some subtle, toasted creamy caramel notes and finishes clean.
Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 Vodka is a solid step up for vodka drinkers who are interested in exploring a vodka with more flavor and character. There’s nothing here to scare the traditional vodka drinker away and the flavors are presented very well with some solid balance.
One of the interesting things about the Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 is that, because it does have some nice flavors, there’s more to work with when making cocktails. Belvedere Unfiltered has launched in the southern part of the US and is rolling out in many major markets. Moet Hennesy picked Portland as one of the early markets to launch in and had a cocktail competition which showcased the diverse directions which a vodka with flavor like Belvedere Unfiltered has.
The top cocktails illustrated the possibilities of a vodka with taste:
While we generally don’t go crazy over hot cocktails, perhaps the most delicious hot cocktail we’ve had was from Jenn Hegstrom from Pope House Bourbon Lounge, called Choco-Nut Cozy. Rich, creamy and deeply satisfying, the Choco-Nut is a dessert in a glass combined with a warm comfy blanket by a warm fire. It’s hard to think of a more comforting and indulgent cocktail.
1 1/2 oz Belvedere Unfiltered
1/2 oz Di Saranno Amaretto
6 oz. Heated Whole Milk
2 oz. Heated Coconut Milk
Hot Chocolate Mix
Served hot in a clear coffee mug.
In separate Container mix heated milks, add hot chocolate mix, stir until well combined
Add Belvedere Unfiltered and Amaretto.
Top with Coco-Orgeat Whipped Cream.
Garnish with Fresh Shaved chocolate and toasted coconut
8 oz whipping cream
2 oz Trader Tiki’s Orgeat Syrup
1 oz of coconut milk
Whip until light and fluffy.
The most traditional vodka cocktail came from Jonah Kobayashi, bartender at the Benson Hotel in Portland. His Hulili was a riff on the familiar mix of vodka, sugar and fruits. Here with lemon, blueberries and ginger, the cocktail was an absolute crowd pleaser.
1 1/2 oz Belvedere Unfiltered
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
6 blueberries, 6 small pieces of ginger and lemon
Muddle the blueberries, ginger and lemon with the Belvedere. Add simple syrup and ice, shake. Lightly strain (so muddled fruit makes it into the glass but ice doesn’t).
Serve up with a lemon twist.
We believe that Belvedere Intense Unfiltered 80 is another strong step in the vodka marketplace towards vodkas which capture more of the essence of the grains from which they were distilled. Given the culinary revolution that has happened in this country, we believe people are ready to taste their vodka!