Review: Shiver Vodka
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 23, 2011
I contacted Gregg Kerr of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Commission (NLC) a few months ago informing him of my plans to begin a series of vodka reviews on my website, and how I was hoping to include at least a few Canadian spirits. Greg was kind enough to forward me a bottle of their new Vodka.
Shiver Vodka is a new product of the of the NLC. Made in Newfoundland and Labrador from Ontario grown corn, Shiver Vodka is four times distilled and triple filtered for clarity and purity. It is what the NLC calls an economy priced Premium Vodka, meant to be light on the pocketbook, but also meant to compete well in the Premium Vodka Spirit category.
My First Impression 8/10
Although I was sent a smaller 375 ml flask (see photo below) for the purposes of this review, I was also sent a nice bottle shot (see photo to the left) of the more typical 750ml bottle presentation. The presentation is rather minimalist although it is clean and attractive.
Shiver Vodka is bottled in what is called an “environmentally friendly’ plastic PET bottle. I admit that I am not sold on the concept of alcohol sold in a plastic bottle, as I wonder if some of the plastic makes its way into the spirit. I have tried to do a little research on this topic, but finding credible information has proved elusive. (I did learn that plastic bottles containing BPA have been banned in many jurisdictions as that particular chemical has been found to leech into the contents. However, I could find no evidence that a similar process occurs with plastic PET bottles.)
I also cringe when I see metal screw caps on bottles, and by examining the Jpeg sent to me, I believe that this is what I see. (My plastic 375 ml flask was also sealed with a metal screw cap.) On the other hand, this is an economy priced vodka. I always allow some leniency in scoring the presentation when the price of the spirit is affordable.
The First Sip 14/20
When I sampled the Shiver Vodka, I invited three friends to help me. I poured each of us a 3/4 ounce shot for the initial sip and asked each person to sip just a little of the Shiver Vodka and let it sit on their tongue before swallowing. Then I asked each give me their impressions of the light aroma they may have encountered as they brought it up to their nose and also the flavour and texture impressions that they received in the mouth. I sampled the Vodka as well (which had been chilled to about 2 degrees Celsius) and compared my impressions with theirs. We all felt the Vodka was very clean on the nose with just a few hints of citrus and grain apparent, however once the Shiver Vodka was sipped that citrus spiciness grew in strength considerably. The sensation warmed our mouths more than a little bit, and I tasted a light metallic aftertaste. There was also a light burn which did not disappear quickly, rather it lingered in the throat. One of my guests found the sensation very unpleasant, and all of my guests felt the Shiver Vodka was not suited for sipping. I found myself agreeing with that sentiment.
Taking a Shot 14.5/20
Next we all took a larger swallow of the remaining Vodka in our shot glasses. The Vodka actually tasted a little better as a shot style Vodka, probably because we did not let the spirit sit in our mouths long enough for any sharpness to develop. The spirit did impart what I will call a creeping burn in the throat which was felt more sharply by some than others. The metallic aftertaste I noted earlier has turned slightly bitter, and although this was more enjoyable than sipping, we all felt the Shiver Vodka was not at home as a ‘shot’ style spirit.
Out for Dinner 14/20
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, ripe mini tomatoes, cauliflower florets, broccoli spears, smoked sausage, fresh baguettes with butter, and a small bowl of spinach dip on hand. A common theme of the tasting was that the food was not enhanced by the Vodka, and in fact the aftertaste of the Vodka was becoming slightly more bitter as we sampled.
I wanted to make at least one cocktail to test the performance of the Shiver Vodka in the manner in which it would most likely be consumed. I made a Cosmoplitan and shared it with my three friends. The Cosmo tasted nice, the way a good cocktail is supposed to taste. It was lightly tart and the lime and the cranberry seemed to shine through nicely. Although we as a group did not believe the Shiver Vodka was suited for sipping we all felt the Vodka was well suited for an evening of cocktails.
Some Final Words:
I easily managed to conserve enough of my Vodka sample for subsequent evaluation in my private tasting room. I sipped and shot the Shiver Vodka and I sampled some food while I wrote this review to ensure the taste impressions which I had written down during my tasting event with my three friends were accurate. I also made one more cocktail, The Arctic Sun (see recipe below). I found that my impressions of the the Shiver Vodka were very consistent from one sampling session to another. It is a decent cocktail Vodka but not suited for sipping.
Final Score: 76.5/100
Shiver Vodka is well suited for Cocktails
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
My Suggested Recipe is based upon a nice cocktail I found on the Make Me Shiver Website called, Shiver Winter Sun. I call my version of the recipe, Arctic Sun.
1 1/2 oz Shiver Vodka
1/2 oz Amaretto
Orange slice Garnish
Pour the first two ingredients into a Collins glass full of ice
Fill with Orangina
Garnish with an Orange slice
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)