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Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka

Review: Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka  95/100
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published March 03, 2013

Gold lineBeluga Noble Gold Line Vodka is an exclusive ultra-premium Vodka and according to the Beluga Website, it is manufactured from malted spirit and pure Getreidemalz Siberian spring water. Even though artesian spring water is naturally pure, for this Vodka, the spring water must also undergo an extra filtration for an even higher level of purity. After being distilled five times, the vodka is enriched with special ingredients such as rice extract and golden root (rhodiola rosea) extract. The addition of minute quantities of special ingredients is consistent with what I know of traditional European production methods where each distilled vodka has its own recipe and its own special ingredients. It is these special ingredients used in very small proportions which contribute to the individual character of each Vodka. (By small quantities I really do mean small; typically these extra ingredients are measured in parts per million.) After all of this, the Vodka is rested for 90 days before bottling. This rest period apparently allows the molecular components within to stabilize allowing for a smoother more velvet-like mouth-feel and taste.

I was curious about the use of ‘malt spirit’ and so I asked Grigory Maslennikov, BELUGA Special Project Manager, to clarify things for me. To quote from Mr Maslennikov:

“Malt spirit is almost never used in the modern Russia. The malt spirit (for Beluga Russian Vodka) is specially prepared at the Itkul distillery (est. 1868) which is situated in an environmentally pure region of the Republic of Altai. The malt spirit is made ​​not from a mix of grain as a typical spirit, but rather from malted wheat. Malt is wheat germ (ie the reproductive part that germinates and forms the wheat grass) which is fermented naturally without any synthetic ferments. The malt spirit is produced at the Itkul distillery according to a century-old recipe.”

Apparently the wheat grain used possesses a large number of natural ferments, and Mr. Maslennikov informed me that:

Due to the presence of natural ferments obtained during the process of germination, NATURAL fermentation begins as opposed to a grain spirit which is fermented using chemical additives and not always (just) yeast.”

I also asked about the equipment used at the Itkul factory and was told that the Iktul facility is state of the art with fully modern fermentation and rectification equipment which according to Mr. Maslennikov allows Beluga to produce an extraordinary natural product:

In the end we get the natural, ecologically pure product which is produced without any chemical or genetically modified products. Only because of the malt spirit we are able to get an exceptionally soft vodka with a harmonious taste and a sweet aftertaste without any burning.

Of course, all of this has me very curious, and I began my tasting sessions with some eagerness.

SAM_0629 Geluga Gold line

The First Impression 10/10

The Beluga Gold Line is exquisitely packaged, and I am impressed by the professionalism implied.The bottle arrives in a rectangular box (which must be unsnapped to release it). The pewter label looks stunning with an unexpected level of detail especially upon the finely crafted sturgeon fish (the source of caviar). The closure is a synthetic cork topper which is covered by sealing wax, and each bottle is equipped with a special small wooden hammer a brush to help tap off the wax and brush it clean. A wire netting holds the cork in place under the wax, and each bottle is individually numbered giving the consumer exclusivity not normally found in the Vodka category.

The First Sip  19/20

Just as I do with every tasting of Vodka, I chilled the Beluga Gold Line to a temperature just above freezing before I poured out my fist sample. The Vodka had a very rich creamy texture at the cold temperature looking slightly thickened and sluggish in the shot glass. At first, I noticed no impressions of aroma at all. The vodka was very clean, and it took about 60 seconds before I started to notice faint whispers of aroma above my glass. Light lemony citrus scents arrived first followed by a ghostly vanilla scent. Then ever so slowly I begin to notice hints of spice, but there was very little if any astringency from alcohol.

The first taste was lightly sweet and lightly spicy with a flavour I would describe as soft and clean. Hints of lemon tantalized my mouth, and I seem to taste mild hints of bay leaf and thyme, and perhaps an ever so light impression of ginger. As the vodka warmed, the flavours increased in strength; but they never become more than vague impressions. It is almost as if I feel the flavour rather than taste it. My guess is that some of the impressions I described were more imaginary than real, but what I can say for certain is that this is a sublime spirit.

Taking a Shot 19/20

I actually sipped my entire first shot-glass of Beluga Gold Line without taking a full swallow (it was that good). So I poured myself another 1/2 ounce and threw it back shot style. The Vodka was silky smooth going down with absolutely no burn. After a few moments, a light gentle warmth crept back up from my belly towards my throat. This is exactly how great Vodkas are supposed to behave. There was no metallic aftertaste associated with the shot, only light spices and vague impressions of flavour which had no real substance. It is not that the Vodka has no flavour, it is that I cannot really distinguish what they were as I took a full shot. Everything is very subtle, but extremely satisfying.

When I repeated the experience with another shot (on another day) at room temperature, my experience was very similar. This is indeed a great Vodka.

Out for Dinner 19/20

As is my normal practice I made a lightly salty soup (this time it was my hamburger ball soup); I had some fresh bakery buns; I cut some cheese slices (Edam and aged cheddar); and I made a small tray of  ham sausage and a variety of pickles. After pouring myself a large shot glass of Beluga Gold Line, I proceeded to enjoy myself sipping the Vodka, and taking small mouthfuls of food. The Vodka and the food all tasted great together. The bread in particular seemed to taste especially good after a swallow of Vodka. This vodka seems to enrich the gastronomic experience not only cleansing the palate between bites which allows me to savour the flavours more completely, but also it seems to add a richness to those flavours.

I continue to be very impressed.

Cocktails 28/30

Based upon the quality which I have tasted to this point, I decided that I wanted to try three very clean cocktails to showcase the Beluga Gold Line. I began with a Vodka Daiquiri which tasted clean and crisp just the way a good daiquiri is supposed to taste. I followed that up with a Vodka Tonic and finally my Vodka Martini.  I was equally impressed. As far as cocktails go the Beluga Gold line Vodka is absolutely great.

This is the best Vodka I have encountered to this date. A subtle, but sublime treat!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Final Score 95/100

Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Suggested Recipe:

SAM_0630 Vodka Soda Here is a recipe for a cold refreshing bar drink that showcases this wonderful vodka:

Vodka Soda

2 oz chilled Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka
1 oz chilled premium club soda or sparkling water (Q Club is great)
1 slice of lime

Chill your Vodka in the freezer for at least 3 hours
Chill your sparkling water overnight in the refrigerator
Cut a slice of lime and place it in your cocktail glass
Add the chilled vodka
complete with sparkling water or Q Club

Enjoy!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As usual you may (loosely) interpret my score 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 Vodka.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are preferable.
85-89    Excellent!  Shots or cocktails!
90-94    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 – 80    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89     Silver Medal (Recommended  for shots and mixing)
90 – 95     Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+       Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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