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Alchemia Imbirowa (Ginger Flavoured Vodka)

Review: Alchemia Imbirowa (Ginger Flavoured Vodka)   (80.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 28, 2011

Alchemia Vodka is distilled in Poland by a company called, Bialystok S.A., which is apparently one of Poland’s largest producer’s of distilled spirits. Alchemia Imbirowa (pronounced eem-beer-ova ) is a grain based vodka from Poland which is infused with natural ginger root. The infusion process saturates the already distilled vodka with the flavouring ingredient allowing both colour and flavour to be imparted to the final spirit.

I was given a sample bottle of Alchemia Imbirowa for the purposes of this review by Paul Charabin of PB Beverages, an Alberta based company which imports and distributes a wide selection of spirits from around the world. The bottle I was given was the 750 ml size, and the label tells me the ginger infused vodka is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle  4.5/5

According to the company website, the Alchemia bottle has been designed to resemble an old style alembic which is a laboratory tool used in by ancient alchemists. My own thought on the bottle was that the company was trying to make a stylized letter A, and the connection to an alembic was totally lost on me. The tall masculine bottle makes an impressive display on my bar shelf; although I have a quibble with the ‘tallness’ of the bottle as I had to move my bar shelves around to allow it to fit.  I was also not happy to discover a metal screw cap under the stylized plastic topper. My disdain for metal screw caps has been well recounted in other reviews.

But….the bottle does look darn nice on my readjusted shelves!

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured a shot of the flavoured vodka into my glencairn glass and had a good look at what I was about to taste. The spirit has a very light colouration which is almost certainly a remnant of tan colour from the ginger infusion. When I tilt the glass and swirl it, a thick sheen of oily spirit is imparted on the sides which drops big droopy legs down. To me this is an indication of sugary sweetness as an unaged spirit is unlikely to impart this kind of oil into the spirit.

My impressions are confirmed as I bring the glass to my nose as the sweet scent of ginger-ale is very evident. The aroma is light and I seem to catch some spicy rye notes in the breezes as well.

In the Mouth 48/60

As the spirit is sipped I receive an unusual mixture of flavour sensations. There is far more sweetness than what was evident on the nose and the mouth-feel is somewhat syrupy. The ginger is also very apparent as it quickly heats the mouth with a peppery sharpness. I have been experimenting lately with flavoured syrups for cocktails, and this reminds me of what I imagine a ginger syrup would taste like. The sharp ginger flavour and the sweet sugary syrup are each quite intense. I get a little rye flavour as well, which I believe might be the base grain of the flavoured vodka.

As a sipping spirit, I find this to be a little too sweet and a little too spicy to be comfortable.  So I decided to treat the spirit as a mixing Vodka and built a typical Vodka Cocktail, the Cosmopolitan. The ginger flavour took the cocktail in an entirely unexpected direction, and the result was a drink that tasted just like PEZ(tm). I had two friends over, and they couldn’t get enough of this strange new drink I had made.

And so I am left in a quandary trying to score the Ginger Flavoured Vodka. As a sipper it just doesn’t seem to have the right flavour, but the first cocktail I made is a favourite of my friends, and one they ask for every time they come over.

In the Throat 12/15

Sipping the Alchemia Imbirowa neat, the finish is intensely sweet and spicy, cloyingly so. With ice, the intensity diminishes a little and the ginger is more enjoyable, but we still do not have a flavour impression that is favourable. However in cocktails, when the vodka has been diluted sufficiently, the flavour is very accommodating to the finish of the cocktail.  Again trying to score this accurately is a nightmare of contrasts.

The Afterburn 8/10

It’s hard for me to justify my scoring. The Alchemia Imbirowa is not a comfortable spirit to sip neat as the flavour of the ginger, and the flavour of the sugar is just too intense. Yet, the flavours are real, and I taste no artificial qualities lingering in the background which are sometimes encountered in a flavoured spirit. And that intensity just might have a certain appeal on those frat party nights when shooting Jagermeister gets boring.

In the end, it was that Pez-like Cosmopolitan which brought the scores up. My friends just love that cocktail, and if for no other reason than to make Ginger Cosmopolitans, I will keep the Alchemia Imbirowa on my bar shelf.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Final Score 80.5/100

Makes one great Cocktail!

You may read some of my other Liqueur and Favoured Spirit Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

The Ginger Cosmopolitan

2 oz Alchemia Imbirowa (Ginger Flavoured Vodka)
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz lime juice
1 oz Cranberry juice
1 tsp of Grenadine

Shake all the ingredients over ice
Strain into a cocktail glass

No garnish, just wonderful PEZ(tm) flavour!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing spirit.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails.)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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