Review: Effen Vodka
a review by Chip Dykstra
Published April 23, 2012
Effen Vodka, is produced from wheat grown in Northern Holland which has been continuously distilled at (what their website says is) a lower temperatures than other Vodkas to avoid caramelization of the sugars during distillation. The product is filtered five times through a patented ‘bottom-up’ process which apparently pumps the spirit up through the filtrate. (I will be honest and admit that the significance of both the low-temperature distillation and the reverse ‘bottom-up’ filtration process escapes me, and my research turned up very little information to enlighten me.)
This Spirit is a product of the Netherlands, and its name ‘Effen’ can be translated from Dutch into English to mean ‘plain’ or ‘smooth’. My guess (and since I am of Dutch heritage I am allowed to guess) would be that the name “Effen” was chosen to imply that this spirit was a straightforward smooth Vodka……. or perhaps not.
You see, marketing people, being who they are, have had a field day with the double entendre that this name implies, as the add to the left demonstrates. In case you cannot read the caption, it says:
“There is nothing more satisfying than Effen on a Plane.”
There are other similar ads out there, and I wonder to myself if the Dutch creators of the Vodka knew what they were implying in English when they named the Vodka. Common sense tells me that they knew exactly what they were doing, and that the double-edged name was chosen exactly for this reason.
My First Impression 8.5/10
The Effen Vodka arrives in one of those tall sleek bottles that have started to populate the spirits landscape (see picture to the right). A rather unique feature of the bottle is the beige rubber-like sleeve which gives the bottle a clean look, and makes it very easy to grip. The label is very simple, but it has remarkable ‘pop’ on my bar shelf. I am however, disappointed in the plastic screw-cap which looks like the cap of a cheap medicine bottle rather than a topper for a quality vodka.
The First Sip 13/20
I chilled the Effen for several hours in my freezer, and it was tasted in a flight with 4 other vodkas on a lazy Sunday afternoon with some friends. When it was time to sample this Vodka, I noticed the spirit was extremely creamy when served at a temperature that was just above freezing. I let my nose take a few cautious sniffs. My first impression was that this spirit was what I would call grainy and medicinal. It had a light vegetal aroma reminding me of a raw alcohol which had just been distilled. Light citrus notes were apparent as well; but, I would not say I was enthusiastic about those first few sniffs of my glass.
As I let a small sip settle on my tongue, I felt the bite was perhaps a little sharp, and the spirit had a lightly metallic taste which was also slightly bitter. The Vodka heated my throat a little more than I would like as it seemed to have an uncomfortable spiciness. The metallic taste lingered in my mouth afterwards.
Taking a Shot 13/20
More of the same was noted when taking a full swallow, ‘shot style’. That vegetal flavour and the metallic taste seems to be growing and the amount of burn this spirit possesses makes it very uncomfortable for a full-sized swallow.
I do recognize that the Vodka does possess some interesting aromatic or perhaps I should call them ‘floral’ flavour components, however these are somewhat lost in the shuffle next to the medicinal graininess, the metallic flavours and the moderate burn.
Out For Dinner 14/20
I did not really enjoy myself when I added food to the mix. The Vodka was not cleansing my palate between bites, rather it was leaving vaguely medicinal flavours behind which detracted from the food experience. The spicy foods like the smoked sausages, and the pepper-pot soup seemed to lose their spiciness, and even the fresh bread did not taste quite right after a swallow of Effen.
At this point, I am firmly convinced that the Effen Vodka is no premium spirit, rather it is strictly a dressed up mixer.
When used as a mixer, the medicinal elements in the Vodka seem to disappear, and that metallic flavour is for the most part muted. The Cosmopolitan I made was fine, but not stellar, and my new cocktail, the Green NV (see recipe below) tasted quite good. I avoided cocktails like the Vodka Tonic which I felt would bring back the undesirable elements in the spirit, but it seems like cocktails heavy on juices and/or soda work just fine.
This is a spirit which will work well at deck parties where long tall drinks mixed drinks and sunshine are the order of the day.
Final Score: 72.5/100 (Recommended Mixer)
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
A Final Note:
My thoughts go back to the advertising I have seen for the Effen Vodka. The aim of the marketing seems to be squarely directed at the crude double entendre which the name implies. It is my experience, that when marketing campaigns want to play the sexual innuendo game, it is usually because that is the only game they can play. That is the case here, as when placed next to other Premium Vodkas, this spirit really offers very little else.
The Green NV
1 3/4 oz Effen Vodka
1/2 oz Bols Blue
1/2 Lime (Fresh Squeezed)
1 oz Fresh Orange Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
Mix all ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass!
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 still 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)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)