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Beluga Noble Russian Vodka

Review: Beluga Noble Russian Vodka  90.5/100
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published October 27, 2012

According to the website information, Beluga Noble Russian Vodka is manufactured in a remote area of Siberia, reported to be 300 km from the nearest large settlement. The vodka is produced from grain alcohol (some of the alcohol may be produced from malted grain), and purified Siberian spring water. Even though artesian spring water is naturally pure, for this Vodka, it must also undergo a double filtration, through quartz sand and a special silver filter. After distillation, a third stage of purification involves a 10.5 meter coal column filter which is composed of birch charcoal. Prior to bottling, the vodka is rested 30 days. This rest period apparently allows the molecular components within to stabilize allowing for a smoother more velvet-like mouth-feel and taste.

Interestingly enough, Beluga vodka also contains other special ingredients (in extremely small quantities) such as honey, oat extract, and Silybum Marianum (milk thistle) 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.)

Beluga Noble Russian Vodka has recently been introduced into my home Province of Alberta. It is a Premium Vodka which is priced to occupy the same market niche as Grey Goose and Belvedere. A bottle was delivered to me by Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are importing this spirit and I was asked to provide a review on my website.

My First Impression 9.5/10

The Vodka arrives in the tall slender 750 ml bottle pictured to the right, and I am impressed by the professionalism implied by the bottle and the label. For starters, that silver label looks very slick and clean. The pewter sturgeon fish on the front is a great touch with much better detailing upon it than one would expect. The synthetic cork topper is a nice finishing touch, and everything about the bottle and the label points in the direction of attention to detail.

Taking a Sip 18/20

I sampled the Beluga Vodka after chilling the bottle in my deep freeze for about two hours. When I checked the temperature I saw that it was about 5 degrees Celsius which is a little warmer than I usually sip vodka. Since the spirit was presented to me as a Premium Vodka to be served neat or on ice, I decided that proceeding with my first tasting session would be fine even at the warmer temperature.

The nose is clean with faint wisps of lemon and spice. There is something else in the air as well, a very soft aroma which seems very vaguely sweet and herbal, and at the same time very vaguely like fresh cereal porridge (made with milk). As I sip the Vodka, I am very impressed.  I taste very lightly sweet flavours of lemon and citrus zest as well as a very gentle spiciness. The aftertaste is vaguely sweet reminding my of honey or cane syrup, and I taste a very light maltiness which is very appealing. I let my shot glass warm up in my hands and continued to sip, and the clean character of the Vodka remained. It was not until I was sipping at room temperature that I noticed any metallic aftertaste or detrimental characteristics. Usually Vodka breaks down at warmer temperatures faster than this, even the Super Premium Vodkas.

Taking a Shot 18/20

I poured a second shot of the Beluga, and swallowed 3/4 of on ounce “shot style”. The vodka went down very smoothly with only hints of spice warming my palate and the back of my throat. A gentle warmth crept up from my stomach back towards my throat. This is the way a good  vodka is supposed to behave. I notice no metallic aftertaste although there is that lightly sweet malty flavour lingering.

I decided to repeat the experience the next day with a warmer glass poured at room temperature. The vodka was much spicier and there was what I would call a zesty aftertaste which carried lightly bitter metallic flavour. Having said that, the Beluga Vodka, at room temperature. is smoother and tastes better than a lot of other vodkas taste when chilled.

Out for Dinner 18/20

Caviar is recommended as the pairing of choice by the producers of Beluga Vodka. I have to admit that I am not a fan of Caviar, and so I cannot comment upon that particular recommendation. However, I did sample the Beluga with a number of assorted foods. My famous pepper pot soup, some honey and garlic chicken wings, some bread and butter pickles, a variety of cheeses including white goat cheese, swiss and cheddar cheese, and some fresh-baked baguette with spinach dip. The Beluga Noble Vodka behaves just the way a really good Vodka ought to behave. It serves to cleanse the palate between bites of food and makes the food taste much better. No medicinal or metallic aftertaste was apparent in either the food or the Vodka. I did find the saltier foods tasted the best paired with the Vodka, in particular the white goat cheese, and the pepper pot soup.

Cocktails 27/30

I started my cocktail analysis with two cocktails, the Vodka Daiquiri and my own Estate Cocktail. They were both nice. I preferred the more complex Estate Cocktail, and I suspect it is the lightly sweet, lightly malty character that I tasted when sipping the Beluga that is responsible. I think these light flavours work really well when there are more ingredients in the cocktail to work with. When I added a touch of mint to my Vodka Daiquiri and turned it into a minted daiquiri, I was much more fond of it. I do not want to imply that the simple Vodka Daiquiri did not taste very good with the Beluga Vodka, it did. But the addition of a touch of mint brought the cocktail to a new level.

When I went in the other direction and made a Vodka Martini, I was very pleased as well. This time those subtle flavours I had noticed in the Beluga seemed to lightly accent the martini in a very nice way.

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Final Score 90.5/100

A Great Sipping and Shooting and Mixing Vodka

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

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Suggested Recipes:

Vodka Martini

1 3/4 oz  Vodka
1 tsp Dry Vermouth
1 green olive and/or
a twist of lemon peel
ice

Pour the Vodka and Dry Vermouth into a metal shaker,
Add ice.
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.
Drop the olive into the martini if desired
Finish by placing a twist of lemon peel in the glass.

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Estate Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Premium Vodka
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
Mint
Ice
Splash Soda

Pour the first five ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Add a couple mint leaves to the frosted shaker
Shake briefly to bruise the mint
Double strain into a suitable glass
Add a splash of soda
Garnish with a sprig of mint
Enjoy!

Please remember to enjoy my cocktail suggestions responsibly!

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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 cocktails)
90 – 95     Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+       Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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