Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Best of the Entry Level Vodkas: Zubrowka

I find that vodka is one of the least consumer-friendly products out there - it is impossible to know what is inside the bottle without research, knowledge and a bit of trial and error.

I believe that this is mainly due to the fact Vodka, far more than pretty much any alcohol, is based on marketing and the illusion of a crafted, exclusive and luxury product. This is done in conjunction with a spirit that (in my opinion) in its best form will be completely flavourless and smooth, but companies need to give you a reason to buy their own brand.

I'm not saying that all vodkas are the same (they aren't, clearly) but the branding for them now seems to build up this crazy mythology about how this vodka is centuple times distilled in the popemobile before being filtered through silver, platinum, gold, frankincense, myrrh, unicorn horn and fairy tears as if this radically improves the flavour.

Extra distillations will improve the spirit (as long as they cut out some elements before re-distilling) and filtration will too (to a very limited extent), but when vodkas are marketed as having been filtered through gold and various other expensive metals I have to call shenanigans.

Rant over. Whilst there are a ton of expensive vodkas brands trying to rip you off with marketing propaganda (see above) there are low end brands doing the same and I find that often when buying vodka for under £25 you are usually going to end up with the most unpalatable of anti-freezes.

This, however, is where Zubrowka comes in. Zubrowka is a polish vodka that is around the £20 mark (and is often on sale for a good deal less) and is made with the use of bison grass - a natural feature to the area near Bialowieza - and is named for it's local bison herd.

This isn't the plainest vodka - even on the nose there is a grassy, liquorice and marzipan-like aroma. I''m not sure if these smells come from the bison grass or not, but it is very pleasant.

On the palate Zubrowka is as smooth as you can expect a sub £30 bottle to be, and doesn't have the same strength of flavour as there is on the palate, which is a plus if you are to be mixing.
(For reference when I tasted this I did it warm with no mixer - you can expect that once chilled this would be an even better vodka, and even smoother.)

This is a great bottle of vodka, and for the price is the best you will get, I personally stay away from the Smirnoffs and Absoluts, they can't compare with this -  and what's more, they don't come with a strand of authentic bison grass in each bottle.

Zubrowka can be purchased for £20 from Sainsburys, Asda or Waitrose

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