Friday, November 25, 2016
The sheer volume of posts in this blog's first week might have you thinking one of two things: (1) I live on a steady diet of alcohol, or (2) these initial posts are based on several months of preparation. The latter is the correct conclusion; if I drank as heavily as I seem to, I'd be dead.
As I mentioned in my first post, I originally conceived "Happy Drinking!" as a video series, which I planned to premiere over two months ago. Ah, Development Hell. I was looking forward to reviewing Absolut Elyx on camera so that when I tasted it, I could make all manner of over-the-top faces and sounds.
"Wait a minute, Shaheen...Absolut is a brand of vodka. Everyone knows that all vodka tastes like nothing and that's why you have to mix it with cranberry juice."
Anyone who truly believes this is either grossly misinformed or has an incredibly poor sense of taste. Indeed, Absolut Elyx is made specifically to have a distinctive profile; if your taste buds function at all, you're not likely to confuse Elyx with the standard Absolut. Neither is your wallet: here in Pennsylvania, the standard Absolut costs $20 (+ tax) per 750 ml bottle, while Elyx costs twice as much. It's a luxury product by design, but for the record, I bought my bottle on sale months ago and have been sitting on this review for a while.
Let's break down some of what we see on the bottle. "Single Estate" means the wheat used to make this vodka all comes from the same family-owned farm. (I'll pause for a moment in case you thought all vodka was made from potatoes; how many misconceptions do I have to dispel here?) "Handcrafted" is a much-abused word in the spirits industry, given that anything made in a still can't be entirely "handcrafted," but the word is clearly meant to indicate a more artisanal product than the Absolut my dad used to dump a shot of in his beer. (No wonder I have no father-son drinking buddy stories.) And yes, those copper stripes refer to the 1921 copper column still in which this vodka is (cough) handcrafted.
Swedish Single Estate Vodka
42.3% ABV (84.6 Proof)
Body: Medium-light. Decent viscosity; interesting legs and tears give way to rain-like drops and dew-like specks.
Nose: Sour apple. Big notes of cracked black pepper. Sweet wheat with an earthy, smoky backbone. Vanilla yogurt. Cooked button mushrooms. Sauteed portabella mushrooms.
Palate: Robust and complex. A mouth-filling, soft, creamy, sweet entry, quickly invaded by a peppery heat which slices through the softness and sweetness. However, the sweetness soon reasserts itself and lingers nonstop. Doughy wheat. Shredded wheat. A savory note recalling the mushrooms on the nose. Some saltiness. Salt water taffy. A hint of tartness. Some bitterness in the finish, but joined with the other characteristics, this is not unpleasant. Assertive alcohol in the aftertaste.
Besides Sipping Neat: I most often enjoyed my bottle neat, but I did also like it on the rocks, and since the product’s website had numerous Martini recipes…yes, I shook it with ice and dry vermouth. Delicious! Skip the olives, though.
Overall: This is not a vodka for people who want something to shoot or mix with soft drinks. This is not a vodka for people who want the alcoholic strength of liquor without the taste. This is a vodka for people who like to sip on challenging spirits, spirits which demand time and attention to be appreciated, spirits with flavors that are contradictory in principle but complementary in practice. If that sounds like you, try this.
Thank you for reading, and as always...Happy Drinking!