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Luksusowa Vodka

Review: Luksusowa Vodka    (79.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 27, 2011

Luksusowa Vodka is an authentic potato vodka produced in Poland and distributed world-wide by the Pernod Ricard conglomerate. The vodka is produced utilizing a combination of traditional and modern production methods which include an initial distillation at a local ‘farm distilleries’, and then further refinement at a larger centralized plant where a continuous column still processes the distillate in a triple distillation which is used in conjunction with gas chromatography to produce a pure potato spirit. This pure spirit is combined with natural spring water from deep artesian wells to produce Luksusowa Vodka.

I learned while researching this spirit that Luksusowa, being a pure potato vodka is gluten-free. It is a good alternative spirit for those who are gluten intolerant or those who may have Celiac disease. For my review, I received a bottle of from the PR agency which represents Luksusowa in Canada. I put the spirit through the paces of my, Vodka Review Methodology and this is what came out:

The First Impression 8.5/10

The Luksusowa bottle pictured to the right has a certain eye appeal with its square shape and attractive but simple labeling. The square shape is ergonomic, allowing more bottles to be packed into a square area (the typical shape of a shipping case) with less chance of breakage. The bottle has embossed lettering as part of its design, and I have found that this added texture on the side of glass bottles makes them easier to hold especially if they are coming out of a cold freezer. Overall I am pleased with the bottle except for that metal cap I see on the top. Metal caps expand and contract in heat and cold at a different rate than glass, and a product which is often thrown in a freezer to chill, should have a plastic cap at the very least. As well, these pressed on caps are quite flimsy and tend to warp easily.

However, the Luksusowa is not an overly expensive indulgence, and I will not be unduly severe in scoring this portion of the review.

The First Sip 16/20

When I sampled the Luksusowa Vodka, I invited three friends to help me. I poured each of us a sample in a shot glass for the initial sip, and asked each person to sip just a little letting it sit on their tongue before swallowing. I sampled the Vodka as well (which had been chilled to about 2 degrees Celsius) and compared my impressions with those of my friends. We all felt the Vodka was very clean on the nose. I thought I could smell a very light starchiness with perhaps a very light hint of citrus zest and spice.

The texture was very creamy, however, the Vodka had a faint bitterness and very light metallic aftertaste which lingered after swallowing. We did not notice any burn at the cold serving temperature, however in subsequent tastings in my private tasting room I noticed that the light bitterness became pronounced at warmer serving temperatures.

Taking a Shot  16/20

Next we all took a larger swallow of the remaining Vodka in our shot glasses and we agreed that the Vodka seemed nice and smooth. The spirit did not impart any burn in the throat; however a mildly unpleasant bitterness was growing as we continued the tasting. That sense of starchiness that I tasted in my initial sip is becoming akin to the flavour of a raw potato, and it seems to be associated with the bitterness we all are tasting. (Knowing that this is a potato vodka may have influenced my association with the potato flavour. My friends who were not told that this is a potato vodka experienced the flavour as a lightly acidic starchiness although the association with bitterness was common to all.)

Out for Dinner 15.5/20

I had set my table up with various foods to sample with the Vodka. I gave each of us another 1/2 ounce and asked each friend to sample the food with the vodka and give me impressions of at least two pairings.  I had cheddar cheese chunks, sliced of soft Gouda, ham sausage, some garlic and honey chicken wings, fresh-baked buns with butter, and a small bowl of pepper pot soup on hand. A common theme was that the food and the Vodka continued to be haunted by the light bitterness that seemed to be a result of the Vodka warming slightly during the tasting. In my private tasting room afterwards I did a few experiments and confirmed the Luksusowa is very susceptible to metallic aftertaste and bitterness at even slightly warmer temperatures. If the Vodka is served at or below 3 degrees Celsius, this bitterness disappears but it returns with a vengeance as your glass warms.

Cocktails  23.5/30

I wanted to make at least one cocktail to test the performance of the Luksusowa Vodka in the manner in which it would most likely be consumed. I made a Cosmopolitan and shared it with my three friends. At first, the Cosmo tasted nice, the way it was supposed to taste.  However as we sipped our cocktail we began to notice that same light bitterness creeping into the flavour. I felt I tasted that same starchiness which I identified early in the tasting which seemed to be accenting the cocktail but not enhancing it.

Some Final Words:

As noted in the review, the Luksusowa Vodka is very temperamental. When it is served very cold, it is a good vodka, but it easily loses its charm as its serving temperature rises. My scores reflect this duality. Every score I assigned would be higher if I had only sampled the Vodka when its temperature was at or near 1 or 2 degrees Celsius. Since I believe that Vodka is enjoyed in a variety of ways by consumers, I felt my scoring had to reflect the temperamental nature of the spirit.

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Final Score: 79.5/100

Very Well Chilled, Luksusowa is suitable for sipping and for cocktails

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

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Suggested Recipe:

I wanted to go in the direction of a cocktail served with ice to ensure the spirit would stay cold and delicious. I decided to go with my version of the Vodka Cooler. Since it is my version I have called it the Arctic Vodka Cooler!

Arctic Vodka Cooler

1 1/2 oz Chilled Luksusowa Vodka
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3/8 oz sugar syrup
Ice
Soda (you may substitute Ginger-ale, or Lemon-Lime Soda)

Chill the Vodka in a freezer for several hours
Add Vodka, Lime juice and Simple syrup to a chilled highball glass with ice
Complete with Lemon Lime Soda
Garnish with added chunks of Lime
Of course….enjoy!

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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)

5 Responses to “Luksusowa Vodka”

  1. Mike said

    Ah, good point about cross-contamination. Though that makes it hard to declare anything gluten-free unless you could also specify “made in a gluten-free facility”.

    • That seems to be correct.
      According to the research I conducted (and the press information I have seen), Luksusowa Vodka is considered to be Gluten-free, but I do not know which regulating body verifies that claim.

  2. Mike said

    I would like to generate some discussion as to the gluten content of distilled spirits. I has been suggested in several places that distilled spirits are, by nature, gluten-free, regardless of their composition. However most doctors would probably recommend that a Celiac steer clear of grain-based spirits just in case.

    • This is complicated as according to the information provided at Celiac (dot) com, all alcohols, if distilled, have removed all gluten from their composition.The Gluten molecule apparently is not volatile and cannot make it through the distillation. Since rum, gin, whiskey, and vodka are distilled beverages, they should be gluten free if they are not flavored with something that contains wheat, rye, or barley. This seems to fly in the face of how these spirits are treated by doctors.Perhaps it is the second part of the equation where flavouring additives may be added after distillation which causes the problems. Although when I roll this through my mind and realize that many cogeners make it through the distillation it does not seem unreasonable to me to think that although the gluten molecule is not volatile, it make be transported through the distillation in the same way dust particles are transported through turbulent air.

      Like you Mike, I would welcome further discussion as I admit my speculations are just that, speculations.

      • Some further information I have turned up is as follows:

        Although distillation removes gluten from spirits, sources of gluten (ie grains) are usually still in the distillery, and the possibility of cross-contaminating the gluten-free distillate with gluten (like from grain dust for example) is a strong possibility. This type of contamination is probably the largest source of gluten in distilled beverages, and the entire facility must be gluten free for the end product to be considered gluten free.

        As well as I previously mentioned, distillation does not solve the problem of ingredients added to an alcohol after the distillation process. Those ingredients, added later, may include barley malt or colorings or flavorings that contain gluten.

 
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