Remember the days when vodka was everywhere? Seems eons ago. Then along came the gin tsunami and vodka seemed all washed up. Vodka still does okay, though, especially in cocktails.
Great vodka is more than worthy of your attention as a sipping spirit. For me, a small glass (it becomes too easy to knock off way too much, otherwise) with a bottle which has been in the freezer kicks things off. I usually then transfer it to the fridge from then on, as too cold can mute the flavours. But keep things very cool.
Next, friends and food. For food, great seafood seems to work a treat. I cannot help but think that a top vodka would give a fine Fino a run for its money with Spanish anchovies. Caviar goes without saying. In Russia, herrings, ham, preserved vegetables, marinated mushrooms and meat jelly are all popular.
All you need now is that great vodka and for me, I can’t go past the new(ish) Beluga ‘Gold Line’ Vodka ($185). This is vodka from Siberia, the Mar
‘Gold Line’ is their flagship vodka, unless one wants to come up with around $10K for one of the 1,000 decanters of ‘Epicure by Lalique’, although good luck finding one. I’ll stick with the ‘Gold Line’. They also offer ‘Noble’, ‘Celebration’ (a limited edition vodka, made to celebrate the centenary of the distillery), ‘Transatlantic Racing’ (a rather curious name for a vodka) and ‘Allure’.
‘Gold Line’ is filtered five times, rather than the usual three. Beautifully packaged in a leather box and with a wax seal, it comes with a little hammer/brush thing, supposedly to clean up the cracked wax when opened.
The spirit comes from malted wheat, rather than mixed grains, the higher number of enzymes reducing or eliminating the need for the usual additives. After the five filters, rice extract and golden root extract (rhodiola rosea) is added to enrich the vodka, apparently, an old European tradition. In addition, after the filtrations, there are tiny quantities of honey, oat extract and the extract of milk thistle added, before the vodka is cut with that Siberian artesian water. The alcohol level is 40%.
The result is a vodka which is