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Russian Standard Original Vodka

Review: Russian Standard Vodka   (87.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 14, 2011

The Russian Standard Vodka Company was introduced in 1998 by Russian businessman and entrepreneur, Roustam Tariko (the owner of Russian Standard Bank). This is a traditional Russian Vodka made from hardy winter wheat cultivated on the Russian steppes. What is not traditional is that the spirit is quadruple distilled at the company’s distillation and rectification facilities in Saint Petersburg and then blended with the glacial waters from Lake Ladoga (whose waters were chosen for their renowned softness and purity). The Russian Standard Vodka is raised to a final level of  purification using a quadruple charcoal filtering process, and then it is finished in steel ‘resting’ tanks before bottling.

I was given a bottle of Russian Standard Original Vodka to review on my blog by the Beam Global Team here in my home Province of Alberta. Beam Global is responsible for the sales and distribution of this spirit in my home province and across Canada.

I think I will begin my Vodka review with the following video I found online.

I like these promotional vodka videos I find online. The themes of romance, style, and luxury are highlighted and the ambiance of the spirit is celebrated. We do not learn much about each Vodka per se; but, we certainly learn how the companies are trying to position themselves. In this case the video makes it clear that Russian Standard is an authentic Russian Vodka.

And it is with the positioning (or perhaps I should say the presentation) of the spirit that I shall begin my review:

The First Impression   (8.5/10)

The Russian Standard Vodka is presented in the frosted bottle pictured to the right. I like how the label presents the name of the Vodka in Russian rather than English allowing the vodka to firmly revel in its Slavic heritage. The bottle is topped with a metal screw cap topper which for me was a minor distraction. I do not like these metal screw caps, and a product which is often tossed into a freezer overnight should not have a topper which will expand and contract at a different rate than its bottle.

The First Sip   (17.5/20)

I had four friends over for my initial tasting session with the Russian Standard Vodka, and we all noticed how very clean the vodka felt on our tongues and in the throat as we took our first sip. I had placed the Vodka in the freezer earlier that morning and served the spirit at a temperature of about 1 degree Celsius. There was very little aroma apparent in the  glass, and only a wisp of flavour which resembled a faint touch of wheat flour. After the sip, a nice creeping feeling of warmth was imparted to the back of the mouth and in the throat. The Vodka is smooth, mild, and very nice.

Taking a Shot  (17/20)

As we all took our first full swallow of the Russian Standard, I remarked to the others how clean, and smooth the spirit was. An ever so light rye-like warmth teased my palate and my throat in a delightful manner. I noticed no burn at all; however, a slow building warmth seemed to grow in my throat afterwards. My friends all had similar experiences to mine, and we all liked that slow building warmth which followed the shot of vodka.

I indulged the Russian Standard a few more times after my initial tasting. The very light taste impressions and the smooth crispness were consistent even at warmer serving temperatures, and with different palate conditions. Yet, I could not help but feel that the fleeting visages of taste and aroma could perhaps have been just a touch stronger.

Out for Dinner  (17.5/20)

With fresh bread, soft cheddar and Edam cheese, smoked sausage, and lightly flavoured honey garlic chicken wings, the food and the vodka tasted fine. The smoked sausage in particular seems to taste just a little better as the vodka seemed to cleanse the palate making it receptive to the spices in the sausage. The vodka continues to taste clean and smooth with the food pairings, and I continue to be very impressed with my sample of Russian Standard Vodka.

Cocktails  (27/30)

The clean smooth taste of the Russian Standard Vodka is very nice for cocktail construction. I was a little worried that with the lack of any substantial taste characteristics, the vodka might make my bar drinks seem a little watery, but this was definitely not the case. Fruity cocktails like the Cosmopolitan were very nice as were martini style drinks. For fun I decided to build something just a little different this time, and the result was a fine tasting Sweet Moscow Mule. (You may find the recipe below)

Some Final Thoughts

The Russian Standard Vodka is so clean and so smooth that I can understand if another person would conclude that it deserved a higher score towards the range of the mid 90′s. However, for my palate, I find that the taste is so clean that the slippery nuances of flavour which I enjoy in Vodka are almost absent. The spirit borders on magnificence but just falls short.

(Perhaps at a later date I will have to try the Russian Standard Platinum or the Russian Standard Imperia to see they can reach that level of magnificence which I seek.)

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Final Score  87.5/100

Excellent for Shots and Cocktails

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

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The Sweet Moscow Mule

1 3/4 Oz Russian Standard Vodka
3/4 Oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Cracked Ice
Ginger Beer

Slice of Lime for garnish

Pour the Vodka, Lime and Simple Syrup  into a Metal Shaker with Ice
Shake until the sides of the metal shaker frosts
Strain into a chilled ice filled highball glass
Complete to taste with Ginger Beer
Garnish with Lime

Please remember that my aim is to help you find better spirits, not to help you consume more spirits!

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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)

4 Responses to “Russian Standard Original Vodka”

  1. H.Smith said

    I found no flavour on the tongue except a bit of sugar, and it was smooth, but the most “peppery” vodka I’ve ever had, by far. I’m surprised you described it as mild.

  2. Frederic said

    We met the RS rep at Tales of the Cocktail back in 2009 and he sent us a bottle. I like the hint of grain and its smoothness, and it tasted the same or better than most of the more popular and expensively marketed brands. At its price point, it’s a great deal.

    • Hi Frederic

      You are absolutely right about the price versus quality equation. In my market this Vodka is an outstanding value.

      I will be reviewing several of the super Premium Vodkas such as Grey Goose, Nemiroff Lexx, Alchemia, and a local super premium variety called Pristina in the coming weeks and months. I have saved a good portion of my Russian Standard (the Wyborowa Exquisite as well) to do side by side comparisons and I admit I am very curious as to how things will shake out.

 
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