Khortytsa Structured Vodka
Review: Khortytsa Structured Vodka 86/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 04, 2013
The Khortytsa Distillery is located in the City of Zaporizhzhia, in the south of Ukraine. The facility is relatively new, and its first distilled products were rolled out in December of 2003. According to the company website, the distillery uses only high quality grain spirits produced by Ukraine’s best factories for vodka manufacturing. Although the facility and the brand are relatively new, they have made a significant impact in the global market where today as Khortytsa is found in 85 countries worldwide. The brand was recently introduced into Canada, and I was recently asked by the local importer, Ukrainian Drinks Ltd. to provide a few reviews of some of their selected products.
The Khortytsa Structured Vodka is produced using what the company calls ‘structured water’ which apparently has similar properties to the water within the human body and allows the Vodka to be more easily digested (at least according to the pressers I have read). It is produced from what is called lux spirit. (In Russia, vodka is classified according to its level of purity, with lux spirit being the second highest classification used primarily for premium and super-premium spirits.)The brand also boasts that its Structured Vodka has been certified “Organic” by the EU (European Union), and certified “kosher” by the Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America).
As with most European vodkas I have reviewed, Khortytsa Vodka is produced with minute quantities of special ingredients which give the specific brand a unique or distinctive character. In the case of the Structured brand the special ingredient mentioned upon the website is an infusion of oat flakes.
The First Impression 8.5/10
The Khortytsa Structured arrives in the clear rectangular bottle shown to the left. The ribbed glass on the sides is functional as the ribbed glass actually helps you grip the bottle if it happens to be damp (as vodka bottles often are after they are taken from the freezer). The overall look of the bottle and the labeling is clean and professional.
An interesting feature of the bottle is the Company’s anti counterfeiting program which also includes matching serial number identification inscribed on each the bottle and the screw cap. The cap also has the bottling date for each bottle produced inscribed above the serial number. My bottle is inscribed 23.01.13 11:44 which means (I believe) that my vodka was bottled on January 23 , 2013.
The First Sip 17/20
When I sampled the Vodka for the first time it was part of a flight with three super-premium vodka brands (Double Cross, BELUGA Transatlantic and Wyborowa Exquisite) which my friends and I were tasting. The Khortytsa Structured was by far the least expensive of the brands; yet right from the first sip, we all found that this spirit was holding its own against the stiff competition. I had served each spirit chilled to just over zero degrees Celsius, and at that temperature the Structured Vodka was by far the thickest and creamiest in the glass.
When the Vodka was raised to my nose I noticed very delicate notes of lime zest and spice. As I sipped it, the impression upon my palate was of citrus zest with hints of lemon, spicy white pepper and cloves. All of us at the mini-tasting agreed the vodka was clean and very smooth with no detrimental aftertaste. At this cold temperature, the Khortytsa Structured was on par with the super-premium brands in terms of taste and enjoyment.
I did notice the spirit diminished somewhat when sampled on a separate day, at room temperature. The spiciness was more pronounced and almost uncomfortable, and a rough vegetal quality had crept in to the flavour profile. This by no means dissuades me from appreciating the Khortytsa Structured, as I rarely sip vodka at room temperature.
Taking a shot 16.5/20
At a cold serving temperature, the vodka has a nice cleansing effect upon the palate when you take a full swallow. It is just spicy enough to be invigorating, but not so spicy that it is uncomfortable. The only flavour impressions are light hints of lemon and little bits of grain. When sampled at room temperature, the spirit remained smooth, however, I noticed that the lemon flavour within had increased substantially, and that vegetal flavours were again apparent in the aftertaste. Very few Vodkas escape this creeping vegetal character at warm serving temperatures, and I still consider this a very good vodka for shots especially when chilled.
I should note that I searched for some indication of the oat flake infusion; however, other than the thick creaminess of the spirit, I could find none.
Out for Dinner 17/20
When my friends and I have a vodka tasting we always have a similar assortment of foods to taste while we consume the vodka. Bread and lightly sour spinach dip has become a staple, we try to have some different sorts of sausage and /or ham, and I always make a lightly salty soup (my somewhat famous hamburger ball soup this time). An assortment of pickles and cheeses usually finds its way onto the table as well. This time, we even had a nice meat lovers pizza cut into small pieces for everyone.
When I sampled the food with the Structured Vodka, I definitely felt that all of the foods were enhanced by the Vodka. The bread tasted a little sweeter; the sausage tasted a little spicier; and even the pizza seemed to have more ‘pop’ in the mouth. In fact, the pizza seemed to be the best pairing for this particular vodka as it was both lightly salty and lightly spicy which is a great combination for most Vodkas. I noticed that the Khortytsa Vodka itself tasted a little spicier, and perhaps a little sweeter when paired with the food. Both impressions were welcome.
The finale of my Vodka tasting was a small cocktail exploration where I made each of my guests a Vodka Daiquiri to enjoy after the main sampling session. It is always interesting to me how the supposedly flavourless spirit we call Vodka affects the cocktail experience. In my recent tasting, one of the Vodkas (the Double Cross) seemed to make a slightly sour cocktail, another (the Wyborowa Exquisite) seemed to make a spicier cocktail, and the Vodka we are interested in this review, the Khortytsa Structured made a slightly sweeter cocktail which still carried that nice tartness of the lime throughout.
I found all of my guests enjoyed the daiquiri made with Khortytsa Structured, and so did I. The light sweetness the Vodka imparted made for a tasty daiquiri. Afterwards (about four days later), I made a Vodka Tonic with the Khortytsa and found it was a lovely drink to sip while I enjoyed the evening sunshine on my front porch.
Final Score 86/100
An excellent all round Vodka which is best served chilled!
If you are interested in comparing some scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
Although the Khortytsa Structured Vodka is certainly of sufficient quality that a Vodka Martini, or a Vodka Tonic can easily be recommended; I found myself going a slightly different direction the following week when I was mixing cocktails on my back deck while enjoying one of the few breaks of warm weather we have experienced during this cool Canadian spring.
Bluebird of Happiness
1 1/2 oz Khortytza Structured Vodka
3/4 oz Bols Blue (Triple Sec)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3 dashes (about 1/8 oz) Luxardo Maraschino
Add the first four Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the sides frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Add a splash of Soda
Garnish with a lemon slice
(Note: The original Bluebird cocktail is credited to W.J. Tarling. My modern version is similar, although I suggest Blue Curacao is a better choice to colour the cocktail than Tarling’s suggested Cointreau and blue food colouring. And of course, I like to add a splash of soda that Tarling did not. )
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)