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Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka

Review: Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka  89.5/100
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published May 28, 2013

BELUGA Vodka has been in production since 2002, when the first 38 bottles rolled off the production line at the Mariinsk Distillery on December 13th. The history of this particular plant actually stretches back 113 years to 1900 when it was built in the town of Mariinsk which is located in a remote area of southwestern Siberia (the Kemerovo Oblast), where the West Siberian plains meets the South Siberian mountains. Apparently, this plant was apparently constructed in this remote area of Siberia for a very special reason, the Getreidemalz Siberian spring water which is pulled from an aquifer 250 meters below the ground. The special properties of this water (the aquifer contains quartz) are said to make it ideal for making vodka.

Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka is produced from malted spirit and a mixture of softened water and that pure Getreidemalz Siberian spring water. Even though the artesian spring water is naturally pure, it must undergo a double filtration, through quartz sand and a special silver filter. After the malted spirit and a mixture of softened and filtered artesian water are mixed, the water-spirit mixture is purified once more as it is filtered twice through a 10.5 meter birch charcoal column filter and once more through a special cotton filter to complete the purification process.

At this point, Beluga introduces small amounts of special ingredients into their vodka. In the case of the Beluga Transatlantic these special ingredients are, sugar syrup, malted barley extract,and wild strawberry extract. The addition of small 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. After these ingredients are added, but prior bottling, the Transatlantic Vodka is rested 45 days. This rest period apparently allows the molecular components within the finished vodka to stabilize allowing for a smoother more velvet-like mouth-feel and taste.

I was contacted by the Beluga Vodka Company about three months ago inquiring as to how they could send me a sample of the Beluga Transatlantic and Beluga Allure Vodkas. Thanks to the assistance of Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are the local distributors of Beluga Noble Vodka (see my review here), I was able to receive the samples in good order and provide this review on my website.

beluga_0111_okMy First Impression 10/10

The super-premium Beluga brand, Transatlantic Racing is the newest product in Beluga family, and its production was inspired by the success of the Russian sailing team BELUGA in yachting competitions upon the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea. According to the folks at BELUGA Vodka, this brand is said to reflect,

“the passion for excellence and freedom that is so congenial to the spirit of yachting”.

As such this super-premium vodka arrives in the nifty form-fitting leather case shown to the left. The case opens from the top scissors style to release the bottle. The shape of this case was designed to replicate the hull of a sailing yacht.

As with all of the Beluga bottlings, the attention to detail is superb. The case is finely stitched, and the pewter sturgeon mounted on the bottle is finely crafted. The labeling is professional and attractive, and a nice added touch is a light touch of smoky blue colour added to the glass bottle. This hint of smoky blue was added no doubt as a reflection of the waters upon which the BELUGA sailing team race. The entire presentation has a sporty look which is masculine and sophisticated.

The First Sip 17/20

I had placed the Transatlantic Racing Bottle (but not the leather case) in my freezer for several hours before sampling the spirit. I have a handy thermometer which I use to check the temperature and when I sampled the vodka it was between zero and one degrees Celsius. The vodka seemed only slightly thickened in my shot glass, and when I raised it to my nose I sensed merely whispers of aroma. The first sip brought impressions of a vague creaminess to my mind which hinted at cream of wheat porridge. There is a mild spiciness with subtle flavours of lemon zest, and an ever so light sweetness which reminded me of the sweetness of fresh bread. There were hints of a lightly bitter aftertaste left over which seemed to bring impressions of fresh bread crust and lemonade into my consciousness. All of the flavours were vague and slippery as was the aftertaste. The vodka  was smooth and easy to sip and enjoy.

When I tried the Vodka a few days later at room temperature, I was pleased at how well the spirit stood up to the increase in serving temperature. The vodka remained smooth although the aftertaste was slightly more pronounced with a more obvious sweetness lingering.

Taking a Shot 17.5/20

Over the past week I made a point to sit down a few times in the evening to enjoy a half ounce shot of the Transatlantic Vodka. The spirit goes down smoothly, especially when chilled in the freezer before hand. Ghostly impressions of flavour tickle my palate. Fresh bread, an ever so light impression of cotton candy, a touch of lemon flavour, and a mild rye-like spiciness all seem to be hinted at when I take a full swallow.

There is a very light burn which follows that swallow. It is not harsh or astringent, but the light burn is present nonetheless. I should make the point that the vodka does not cause discomfort, and for some connoisseurs, this light heat in the throat might be preferred to a spirit which is completely smooth. I also notice a vague bittersweet aftertaste which again reminds me of bread crust and lemon. This aftertaste was not unwelcome, and I thought that perhaps that bread crust impression was a remnant of flavour from the malt extract added to the Vodka.

Again, at warmer serving temperatures, the BELUGA Transatlantic Racing Vodka holds up well as a good shooting Vodka. The flavour impressions are perhaps a little stronger, and if I stretch my imagination, I believe I taste a little lingering strawberry flavour in the finish. It is hard to be certain, as the power of suggestion certainly may be at work here.

Out for Dinner 17/20

If you have read any of my previous vodka reviews you know that I like to sample an assortment of bread and cheeses, some spicy and some salty sausages, and some type of lightly salty soup when I sip (and gulp) my vodka. A good vodka cleanses the palate between bites allowing me to enjoy this food more, and a great vodka will seem to bring these food flavours to a new level. The Transatlantic is in that territory between very good and great. The light spiciness of the vodka just works so well with all of the foods I enjoy. The bread tastes fresher; the flavours and spices in my home-made hamburger ball soup seem more vibrant, and the various sausages and cheeses are all spicier and tastier.

The only minor deterrent was that the food seemed to bring out more of that light aftertaste I had noticed in the Transatlantic Vodka. I am not really complaining, I just cannot decide whether this vague aftertaste is a positive or a negative.

Cocktails 28/30

I have a few ‘go to’ cocktails which I like to serve when determining how well the spirit performs in the cocktail realm. I usually begin with a Vodka Daiquiri or a Cosmopolitan. If I am really happy, I will might try a Vodka Tonic or Vodka Martini next. If I am not so happy, I will move in the other direction making a more complicated recipe such as a Slow Comfortable Screw or a Vodka Cooler. Basically, a good to great Vodka does not need many other ingredients to complement it; whereas a more average vodka perhaps needs to be enhanced or disguised by other ingredients.

We are definitely in the former realm (that of greatness), not the latter with the Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka. It tasted super mixed in my Vodka Daiquiri, and later I enjoyed  a wonderful Vodka Martini. This is an excellent vodka for fine cocktails!

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Final Score 89.5/100

A great vodka which adds ambiance to any occasion.

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

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Suggested Recipe:

SAM_0736 Minted DaiquiriAs my suggested cocktail for this review, I decided to recommend a Minted Vodka Daiquiri, not because I feel the vodka needed to be complemented; but rather because a touch of mint flavour adds elements of ambiance and sophistication to the resulting bar drink which I feel matches the nature of the Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka.

The Minted Vodka Daiquiri

2 oz  Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka
1 oz  Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
Ice
Sprig of Mint for Garnish

Add the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Double Strain (with a fine strainer) into a cocktail glass
Bruise the mint leaves by gently squeezing them between your fingers to release some oil
Garnish with the sprig of mint
Enjoy in a responsible manner!

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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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