Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series, New Zealand Edition (40% ABV, 80 proof, $3000) – An un-aged spirit at this price point was unfathomable before Stoli brought their Elit Pristine Water series to market. Who in the world would want to pay $3000 for vodka?! The truth is, there are quite a few people out there who are happy to drop their American Express Black Card down for a bottle of one of the world’s most expensive vodka and think nothing of it. Again, it’s hard to blame a brand for bringing a product to market when there’s demand for that product, even at ridiculously astronomical prices. So what does Stoli deliver at this atmospheric price? Actually something quite special. As we saw with The Macallan M, the decanter that a high premium spirit is delivered in is absolutely a factor in the price. For Stoli Elit Pristine Water the crystal bottle was hand blown by the award winning artisans at Royale de Champagne Cristallerie in France. The bottle is wrapped in New Zeland Silver Fir made from fine jewelry-grade palladium and inlaid with black leather. Stoli Elit Pristine Water is sealed with a galvanized palladium enclosure and then presented in a hand crafted wood box made from ancient auri wood from New Zealand’s remote Northland Region and inlayed with a Paua shell. The box is leather lined with “military grade metal latches, to ensure the safe arrival and storage of this rare vodka”.
So yes, a significant part of the $3,000 price tag does go into a very expensive bottle and presentation box. Like the Macallan’s M, the bottle isn’t the whole story. An 80 proof vodka is only 40% alcohol, the rest and the majority (60%) is actually water. For Stoli’s Elit Pristine Water Series, the company ships water from some of the purest water sources in the world. The first offering in this series brought water from the Himalayan Mountains, this second offering draws from New Zealand’s Blue Spring as its water source. The Blue Spring is at the base of the Mamaku Mountain range and its water goes on a hundred year journey from the top of the mountain through volcanic pumice into the bright blue shining spring. The Blue Spring is in a very remote part of New Zealand and is considered one of the world’s purest water sources. This pristine water is combined with Stoli’s special Elit process that uses hearty winter wheat from Russia’s “Black Earth Region” and then is distilled under a process which is designed to preserve more of the character of the wheat. For the Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series, the distillation process is slightly different and a much smaller “cut” is used from the distillation before it’s filtered.
The nose on the Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series, New Zealand Edition is a wonderful mix of lightly sweet wheat mixed with some nice minerality and a very subtle layer of pepper spice. Could you tell from the nose that this was a $3,000 bottle of vodka, probably not, but nosing pure water doesn’t give you much a sense of how you’ll experience it either. The entry of Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series is exquisite and manages to walk a delicate line between full and clean. At the start there are the lightly sweet wheat notes as well as a touch of vanilla. This gives the entry a nice sweet quality to it, but the spirit quickly transitions in the midpalate when its fantastic mineralogy begins to really emerge along with a soft pepper spice. The balance between the sweeter grain notes and the earthy mineral notes in the midpalate is stellar.
The finish is extremely pleasant and clean without being too dry and it does a perfect job of showcasing the minerality from the midpalate. When tasted side by side with the regular Stoli Elit, it’s clear just how much minerality the water from the Blue Spring brings to the equation as well as how much it impacts the mouth feel of the spirit. Stoli Elit is much dryer with more edges, especially on the finish, than The New Zealand Edition of Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series which has more finesse and balance. What makes The New Zealand Edition of Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series so special is very subtle and it could easily be overlooked. Most consumers of the Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series will probably knock it back in a club to show off their wealth or even throw it over ice, completely missing what Stoli has accomplished with their vodka here. Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series, New Zealand Edition is amazing vodka, probably not worth the extremely high price tag, but again at this level we’re not talking about what price is fair, it’s all about what price people will pay for such “extreme luxury”.