1373553669_toffoc-flavoured-vodka-70cl-800x800

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

Conclusion
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.
royal-dragon-superior-vodka-elite-70cl_1

I remember being very impressed when I first saw a bottle of vodka with a winding crystal sculpture of a dragon inside the bottle - how do they get it in there? Magic!
This bottle is the same brand, or family, and still impressive but there is more room for vodka. It turns out there are two types of this vodka; The crystal dragon bottle and this, still very impressive, black with an engraved style pattern of a dragon.

Given that I haven’t yet broken into the world vodka review forums I decided on the cheaper option; the bottle is still pretty impressive, but the price shows that for higher end vodkas you are paying as much for the art as you are the drink itself. It’s why I decided to do a presentation category for marking, after all a lot of people go to a lot of trouble to make very pretty bottles, I wouldn’t want them to think all their efforts were for naught.

This is a Russian vodka and it’s interesting to me that there’s a small sticker added over the label at the bottle that masks out only the volume. Strange. Anyway it’s a beautiful design as you can see.

But is it any good? First stop - the chilled.

It’s got a smell, the smell of alcohol about it, but nothing that bites at the nose. Something that tells you that what you’re about to drink is little water (which is what ‘vodka’ means in slavic). This is a bit viscous, which is good. A bit of warmth on the tongue, a nice warmth, almost a burn, but on the right side of it. It goes down a treat and that warmth floods out into the belly, smooth as anything going down, no bite there in the throat. But more warmth on the tongue with a second gulp. Nice stuff.

Now from the freezer, the cold has soothed that burn on the tongue and made it even better. The bite is a clash between warm and cold and that is really nice. Still smooth as anything going down, all the way to a delicious feeling in the belly. Mmmm.

Room temperature. Not any nose really that I can smell. Well, I’ve got a nose, but the vodka hasn’t got one. Or any smell, not that I can make out. It’s got an edge of roughness to it, nothing serious, but after how smooth it is chilled and frozen it’s a bite. This dragon definitely has a bit of flame to it. The bite is just at the edge of the throat when you swallow however, it’s still smooth going down and warm in the belly. Good stuff.

The Scores

Quality 9/10 - I can see I’ll maybe have to expand out these ratings a bit. It’s not as smooth as the milk vodka, but this has more character. A bit of flame or bite. When people tell me vodka is boring this is the sort of vodka they should try, a nip of fire on the tongue and then smooth going down. Very nice.

Taste 7/10 - No taste I can detect, but it has a delicious viscosity even when at room temperature which gives it a nice feel on the tongue.

Presentation 8/10 - A beautiful golden dragon on a black bottle, it’s really striking. If you’re flush and get the crystal dragon, that’s a straight ten staring right at you.

Alcohol 40% by volume.

Cost £37 http://www.masterofmalt.com/vodka/dragon-spirits/royal-dragon-elite-vodka/?srh=1

Conclusion
This is vodka with character. It has bite that doesn’t make you gasp, smoothness that is good to swallow down and warmth that gives you that good boozy feeling all over. This is really nice stuff, if you know someone who likes impressive bottles and good strong alcohol give them this.
Best served from the freezer into cold glasses, the bite from the alcohol tempers really well with the chill from the cold, it’s a great combination.

Wyborowa

Nov. 19th, 2014 01:30 pm
Wódka_Wyborowa

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.

Cheers!

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!

Conclusion
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!
Russian Empire Vodka

Right. Let's do this thing.
It's looking at me. But time is against me.
The little swine is warming up.
Deep breath.

Phew. Well. That. That is not good.

However, it does tell me one thing..

What that is exactly I'll leave for the moment and explain a bit more about what on earth I'm going on here. This is the Vodblog and I'm reviewing vodka. I like vodka. I was teetotal and had yucked at wine, blehed at beer and rolled cider around in my mouth with a facial expression that suggested that I was practising for a gurning competition.

Then some damn fool offered me a vodka and orange juice. Neither, to be frank, would have been of any sort of quality. But given that up to that point in my life alcohol, in the myriad forms I had encountered had largely been about as palatable as a murky puddle, this was something that was in with a chance.

I'd been drinking orange juice (you have to drink something) on the rare occasions that I'd ventured into pubs; I'd never really seen the point of alcohol to be frank. But now, this was different.The joys of decent orange juice are a recent addition to my life, ; so at the time drinking orange juice for me was largely about a big fat sugar kick and a nice fruity taste. I was a picky bugger (and still am) and orange juice was one of the few things I actually did drink. No tea, no coffee, nothing fizzy. I was a bundle of beverage joy to be sure.

But this OJ; this had been something else; the orange juice tasted, okay, different - there was something there, but then there was… hang on, it’s warming, gotta finish the glass.

Urrrggghh. Aftertones of paint thinner. Ugh!

Ahem.

Yes, right, after that there had been a warm feeling going down, and a warm feeling rounds about me. I’d discovered the joys of minor intoxication.

Years pass and many other discoveries like schnapps and mead, but vodka remains my booze of choice.

The Review - Russian Empire Vodka

This one, however, I can’t see as being one of anyone’schoice if they have any choice at all.
“Start on a good one.” my ever sensible wife told me. “No no, I’ve discovered this bottle of rank meths like vodka, I’ll start with that.” I told her.

And so, I present to you; a review of Russian Empire Vodka. Triple distilled. And produced in, well, no idea, somewhere in the EU. The label doesn’t actually tell me and web searches don’t bring any confessions immediately to the fore. I don’t think that there is actually a country that wants to claim responsibility for this travesty, this crime against alcohol

I was, I must say, actually expecting that first drink to be much, much worse (The chilled shot). I’d tried a sip before and it was bad. Really bad. But that was room temperature. As this is a review, and in order to gauge each vodka I’ll be reviewing here accurately, I am reviewing three shots from each. One at room temperature (so NOT looking forward to that) one chilled in a fridge and one fresh from the deep freeze.

Some vodkas stand up on their own, this is rare; a bit of chill in a vodka is usually a good thing; helps ease the bite of the alcohol when it goes down, though it also dulls the taste a little I find. But when it’s rough as all hell like this stuff, it’s got to be chilled, it makes it a bit more bearable.

Well; next. Room temperature; water on standby…

Yuk. Worse. Now, amazingly, that stuff didn’t actually burn. I’m pretty amazed, but I suspect it’s because my throat’s nerve cells had already killed themselves after the taste from the chilled shot glass. But there’s no way I’m going to finish that stuff.

Flavour? Well, hints of petrol. I’m only glad I have a bit of a cold so this stuff isn’t smelling so bad.
Sits in your belly, pretty bad though. I can feel it in there and it’s like an icy hand in my stomach rather than that nice warm feeling you get from a good clear crisp vodka.

Plenty of water after this one, I can tell you.

Right. Frozen… feck. Even worse. The smell is way stronger. More water needed. This, this stuff is BAD.

So, anyway, I bought this from a little Nisa type corner shop where the owner assured me “it tasted good” and for the bargain price of 12 quid it was mine. I pretty much knew that there was no way in hell this stuff could be any good for that price. I’m never betraying my local off-license again!

I’m finding it hard to think of any other vodka that’s been worse that this stuff. But, let’s keep it positive; it’s not made me upchuck and that so far I’m going to consider a kind of achievement, either for my stomach’s constitution or the so-called quality of this vodka.


The scores

Quality: 2/10 - It didn’t make me throw up immediately, but I think I want to now it has gone down

Taste: 1/10 - Petrol is not the perfume of choice for alcohol and frankly that’s what it smells like.

Presentation: 3/10 - The bottle actually has some semblance of a decent label on it.
Best temperature: Chilled. But this stuff is best served straight down the sink, you don’t want to try this; trust me.

Alcohol - 37.5% by volume

Cost - £12 - I've only seen this available in one shop and it was the last bottle. You should all be thankful for this.

Conclusion: Overall; this is probably the worse vodka I’ve drunk for a long long time, other more horrible drinks I’ve probably had and my brain has mercifully scrubbed them from the record, but this one is going to stay with me for a while. When you set a bottom bar, make sure it’s low and this one is subterranean.

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