Move over gin, there’s a new spirit in town. Jonathan Ray recommends some modern vodkas worth a snifter or two...
Craft gin and Islay whiskies might be all the rage at the moment but vodka remains the world’s favourite spirit. In the UK it has a 30 per cent share of the market, while gin accounts for only 10 per cent. And last year, for the first time, France exported more vodka than it did cognac. How did this happen?
Where once vodka was slugged back solely to get blotto or was simply used as the base of the best Caribbean cocktails, it is now seen as chic and de rigueur, fine enough to enjoy neat in an elegant post-prandial glass or in the driest of dry Martinis. Long associated with park-bench hobos, vodka is now a symbol of luxury and indulgence. Indeed, what better way to show off on your superyacht than with a magnum of Sauvelle “La Nuit” vodka or even a swanky, the-party’s-just-beginning jeroboam?
Sauvelle is a smooth, modern, crafted vodka distilled from French winter wheat in the Charente using Gensac spring water. It’s unchill-filtered and is lifted by the use of charred oak and cherry wood, giving it fresh, creamy, vanilla notes. It’s very fine vodka indeed.
So, too, is Vestal vodka, which uses several varieties of potato from different regions of Poland. Each year the vodka varies and, like wine, it exhibits a real sense of both vintage and terroir, something entirely lacking in cheap, mass-produced examples.
Beluga vodka is another favourite of mine, first distilled in 2002 and now the leading brand in the super and ultra-premium sector in Russia. Made with natural Siberian ingredients, all the Beluga vodkas, including Noble, Transatlantic Racing, Allure and Gold Line, are rested for between 30 and 90 days, providing them with a unique velvety softness.
I’d be the first to admit that vodka is hardly a health drink but so trendy has the spirit become that brands such as Devotion cater for the diet-conscious by stating on the label that it’s sugar-free, gluten-free and even kosher. So long as it tastes good, I’m not sure I’m bothered.
Winonomics: How to spend £515,000
According to the International Trade Centre, last year North Korean leader Kim Jong-un indulged his taste for the finest wine and spirits by spending £2,000 on rum, £155,000 on whisky, £108,000 on vodka, £22,000 on liqueurs and £228,000 on wine and Champagne.
For the same price you could buy...
- The Dog and Oyster Vineyard in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, a state with a proud history of wine making. The six-acre vineyard grows four different varietals. dogandoyster.com
- 321 cases of half bottles (In Bond) of 1999 Chateau d’Yquem, generally acknowledged to be the finest dessert wine of them all. justerinis.com
- 575 L’Orfèvrerie d’Anjou So Flower Dinner Champagne Buckets, each one designed by Eric Berthes to resemble a free-standing arum lily. harrods.com