There is a long tradition of taking something that tastes nice and thinking, “Do you know what, what this really needs is alcohol.” and so that line of thought brings me to my first freebie review; a little 5 cl bottle of the Welsh toffee vodka ‘Toffoc’. Being an entirely professional reviewer it being free will naturally not affect affect my review - after all if price was a factor the £12 bottle of liquid petrol I reviewed the first time would have got a much better ride.

Anyway, one question that I have pondered often is what is the difference between schnapps and flavoured vodka? There’s three things really, I think, the first is alcohol content, schnapps tends to be lower alcohol than flavoured vodka, typically around 20%, whereas flavoured vodkas tend to be anything from 25% up to 50%. More booze for your money. The second thing is sugar, schnapps usually has a loads more of it than a flavoured vodka. Thirdly flavoured vodkas usually just involve dropping whatever flavour thing you want into the vodka and leaving it; schnapps is a bit more of an involved process. Historically schnapps was made from fruits rather than grains and was sweet - but these days the larger brands are just a neutral spirit filled full of sugar with added flavouring - bam - you’ve got a schnapps; so it’s a bit of a grey area at times.

Which brings me to the chilled glass of Toffoc.

Smells good. A soft smell of caramel, very distinct, not quite butterscotch levels of toffee flavouring but a mild smell of toffee not burnt. Not very viscous. But it tastes like liquid toffee, there’s utterly no burn on the lips, mouth, or throat and it was about a good four seconds before I felt the warmth from it in my belly. This is really smooth stuff. Rolling it around in the mouth the caramel taste is lovely, not cloying, the watery aspect of the drink makes it more refreshing than sticky. Delicious.

Frozen. Thankfully it’s not frozen solid, as lower level alcohols can freeze, I’ve even seen bottles of vodka freeze (Usually lower quality stuff) but this is still entirely liquid. No signs of crystals in the liquid either. The smell is a lot more muted, I can barely smell the toffee at all. However the freezer has brought out the warmth a lot more, that’s science folks! I can feel the heat from the alcohol sliding over my tongue, but there’s no burn at the back of the throat, or any burn down until once again I get a nice warmth in my belly. Nice. Freezing it has made it very slightly more viscous, but only a little.

Room temperature. Not so much scent as the chilled again, strange but there you go. The flavour is a little watery actually at room temperature, it’s a little disappointing after the chilled. The flavour is still nice, no burn at all; lips, tongue, nothing. Warm in the belly again, but needs some chill to pick it up a bit.

The Scores

Quality 8/10 - This is very smooth stuff, it’s helped considerably I suspect by being a lower alcohol content than most vodkas but it’s still a hefty 20% but there’s no heat at all. Really impressive for a flavoured vodka.

Taste 8/10 - If you like toffee, and I do, the chilled taste is just delicious. It’s warm in the belly and like drinking a really nice caramel sweet, really nice stuff. If you’ve not got a sweet tooth then you’ll probably still be alright, it’s not sickly at all. Good stuff.

Presentation 4/10 - It’s a pretty plain stick-on label on a plain bottle. Nothing fancy, a nice-ish logo and a little Welsh dragon.

Alcohol 20% by volume.

Cost £15 plus delivery. This is actually pretty hard to find, my local off-license told me that they’re looking to distribute further afield; but unless you’re in Wales where they distribute to ASDA and SPAR you’re out of luck as the shipping costs are pretty steep. If you’re in Wales, buy it and bring me a bottle back too. http://www.toffoc.com

This is a delicious flavoured vodka. If you like toffee and alcohol you’ll not go wrong with this at all; smooth and well flavoured this is a great find. Definitely best served chilled, the cold brings out the flavour and makes it that bit more delicious, warm it’s a bit of a pale shadow of it’s chilly self.


Nov. 19th, 2014 01:30 pm

Poland is a lovely place; I’ve only visited the once but I’d certainly go there again. Good food, friendly people and of course, vodka. More vodka than you can shake a stick at. More vodka than you can shake a tree load of sticks at. In the world ranking places to find vodka Poland is right up there with the best of them.

Which brings me to this staple of Polish vodkas, Wyborowa. I can't pronounce it; I've tried, I've had people tell me how to say it and I never remember, my face contorts and my mouth rebels at attempting any language other than English (despite my many attempts). What I probably need is some vodka first. What I do remember is that for the price it's fine stuff. But I've never really quantified exactly how good it is.

But then, that's what this braindump of a vodka blog is all about; blathering on about alcohol and trying it out.

"What's your hobby?" someone might ask me, "Drinking vodka" I say...Well it’s a significant hobby of mine in any case.

So; as usual, I have to start with the chilled before it warms up.

A good idea I've heard recently is to chill the glasses as well; need to start doing that myself - if there was room in the fridge for a pile of shot glasses that is.


A little bit of burn, just a bit; nothing rough. A taste I can’t quite place and then it's down into the belly; warm and friendly. Nice. Very nice. If I were a professional wine taster then I'd be going on about 'notes of this and hints of that' but vodka is generally very subtle. That said, what do you expect from an clear colourless, multi-distilled alcohol? (Not including your flavoured varieties of course, I’m talking about pure vodka here). There is some flavour, to be fair, maybe a hint of a memory of a drive-by wave of vanilla. But I wouldn't swear to it.
But chilled. That's good. Now I'm not calling it silk like smoothness, but it's good enough.

So next, freezer. Not much nose. Slightly more viscous and maybe a touch more burn. But the belly warmth is less intense; probably because it's been stuck in a freezer for weeks. But that's good. Nice. The burn isn't rough either, I've known drinks that scorch down your throat (Smirnoff Red, I'm looking at you) but this heat is more a warmth you'd welcome, like a fire on a cold night. Friendly.

So, room temperature. I leave this to last, probably because this is not the best choice for vodka in general, but I've chugged this stuff from the bottle before and it's not that bad, so this time I know I'm not going to be crying petrol. No appreciable smell still. I suspect I should register my nose blocked-ness as a factor in this, but taste will cut through that. I'm running the edge of a winter cold at the moment, so nothing much getting in the way.
More flavour however! That's definitely a bit of vanilla there and the burn, not too bad, hardly any; there’s warmth still all the way down. Nice.

The Scores

Quality 7/10 - It's smooth enough, warm enough and got enough flavour that I'm pleased that this is my go-to vodka of choice for mixing and sipping. It'll mix well, especially if you want your crazy cocktail drink to have a bit of bite.

Taste 6/10 - There's vanilla in there, but it's subtle. But what do you expect with unflavoured vodka? Room temperature you can really taste it.

Presentation 6/10 - A simple band, the bottle itself has some nice fluting around it and it has a decent screwcap without that killer metal band around the top.

Alcohol 40% by volume

Cost £17 http://www.masterofmalt.com/vodka/polmos-poznan/wyborowa-vodka I've seen it for a few quid less and I've seen it up to £20. But please; if you're buying a base-level vodka. Get this stuff. Do yourself a favour!

The cheap end of vodkas and very nice for it. Wyborowa is a favourite of mine even if I can't pronounce it. Smooth enough that you can neck it atfrom room temperature and cheap enough that you can afford to do that as well. It's a good baseline vodka that gives you a burn to remind you that what you're drinking is strong alcohol and your belly will be the warmer for it.
Best temperature is chilled for mixing and neat. Although if you want flavour, not warmth, try it room temperature.

Many many thanks also to my super-lovely editor [livejournal.com profile] moomin_puffin!



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