Review: Marushka Vodka
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published August 07, 2012
Marushka Vodka is a prairie wheat distilled Vodka produced at the Highwood Distillery in High River, Alberta. This distillery is situated near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 40 minutes south of downtown Calgary. This is Highwood’s original vodka. Over the years they have made numerous refinements in an attempt to continually improve on the exact flavor that works best for what they refer to as their Russian/Ukrainian style vodka.
Of the six vodkas produced by Highwood, Marushka is considered by the distillery to have the most flavour. It is the number one choice amongst the bars and restaurants which serve Highwood Vodka.
The First Impression 7.5/10
The bottle is a standard ‘bar room’ style of bottle which is quite satisfactory for an economy vodka. The label highlights the three colours of the Russian Federation flag implying, I am sure, that this meant to be a “Russian style” Vodka. The high gloss label with the shiny silver lettering ‘pops’ a little too much perhaps. I keep thinking to myself that there should be an off switch on the label somewhere.
(The term “Russian style” is for me rather confusing as I have no idea what it is supposed to mean. This vodka is made from locally grown prairie wheat in a small batch style of production right here in Southern Alberta. This seems at odds with what I have read about Russian production methods which begin at small local distilleries and ends with the final rectification occurring at large industrial style factories.)
The First Sip 14.5/20
When I tasted the Marushka for the first time it was as part of a flight of three vodkas my friends and I were sampling at one of my impromptu tasting events. We chilled all of the Vodkas such that there were about at 2 degrees Celsius when we sampled them. Each vodka was served individually in a shot glass, and I kept notes during the tasting from which I constructed the bulk of this review.
In the shot glass the Marushka Vodka displayed a stronger than usual aroma above the glass. I could detect a firm note of citrus zest, a grainy spiciness, and the vegetal aroma of a young spirit. The first sip confirmed these impressions especially the grainy spiciness. The spirit seemed lightly harsh, heating the palate just a little more than I would have liked. A metallic aftertaste lingered after I swallowed.
Taking a Shot 14/20
When I took a deeper mouthful and swallowed the Vodka, the spirit demonstrated some spicy heat which translated into a light burn in the throat. This burn increased at warmer serving temperatures when I did some more sampling in my private tasting room, and the warmer serving temperature also brought out more lightly bitter vegetal flavours. The metallic aftertaste is persistent and forces me to conclude that the Marushka is not really suited for sipping or for taking shots.
Out for Dinner 15/20
Paired with food, the Maruska started to perform a little better. It seemed to pair well with ham, sausage, pickles, and my home-made vegetable meatball soup (these are all lightly salty foods). It did not pair so well with breads and cheeses. The bread in particular seemed to bring back those vegetal flavours and the metallic aftertaste.
I tried out a couple cocktails as part of the review, the Vodka Daiquiri, and the Cosmopolitan. Both cocktails were solid, and I would certainly not be shy about serving either cocktail to friends on my back deck during one of my Sunday Afternoon cocktail hours. Another fine recipe for the Marushka is my recipe Civility, which I share down below.
Final Score 75/100
An Inexpensive Mixing Vodka
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
2 oz Marushka Vodka
1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz fresh White Grapefruit Juice
3/8 to 3/4 oz sugar syrup (mix to your preferred level of sweetness)
Lime slice for garnish
Add the four ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a suitable cocktail glass
Garnish with a lime slice and enjoy!
The Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the scores 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 cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)