When it comes to good vodka, what a vodka is made from is often more important than how many times it has been distilled. Vodka is commonly made from wheat, rye, potato, grapes, or corn. There’s also a huge segment of the vodka category made from the nonspecific “neutral grain spirits,” which can be any fermentable grain including soybeans, grasses, and even agricultural waste. Each source material has its own individual characteristics and can greatly impact your vodka drinking experience: wheat based vodkas tend to be more soft and round, potato vodka tends to be more sweet, and rye vodka has more spice. When picking a vodka, especially a premium vodka, it’s generally best to stick to ones which state their source grain on the label.
A vodka’s flavor and character is determined not only from what it’s made from, but also how it was distilled and what is used to filter or ‘polish’ it. Vodka is often run through charcoal, coconut husks, lava rocks, and even diamonds in an effort to make it more smooth and clean.
When you start with high quality ingredients, fermented well and well distilled, it reduces the need to filter it. Belvedere has shown great confidence in their rye with Belvedere Intense Unfiltered, an 80 proof vodka which showcases the character of the rye grain.
There’s a slight spice to the nose on the Belvedere Intense Unfiltered Vodka even though the overall character is soft and clean. The entry is slightly sweet with a soft powdered sugar note. Because it’s unfiltered, it has a nice smooth and round mouthfeel that is very pleasant. In the midpalate things really ramp up with a nice rye spice note that comes in early and then continues to intensify through the midpalate. The rye spice is joined with some heat which leads to a nice finish. There’s the signature ‘pin prick’ on the tongue which you find in really good Polish or Russian Vodka.
While still a clean vodka, Belvedere Intense Unfiltered manages to deliver some nice flavor and excellent spice.
Good rye vodkas like Belvedere Intense Unfiltered stand up well in the traditional vodka soda, where their spice shines through, but it’s in a drink like the Moscow Mule where the rye character really dazzles.
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
2 oz Belvedere Unfiltered Rye Vodka
4 -6 ounces ginger beer
Add lime juice (which is about ½ a lime) to a Collins glass or mule mug, add ice, drop the squeezed ½ lime into the glass. Add the vodka, top with ginger beer, and serve.