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.
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/
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 moomin_puffin!