Russian Standard Vodka

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russian standard vodkaRussian Standard Vodka (Original) is one of three different vodkas made by the same company. Russian Standard Platinum and Russian Standard Imperia Vodka are the two upper-end, pricier vodka choices from the same distillery which I have not yet tried. Russian Standard, like any premium Russian vodka is distilled from Wheat. While the original Russian Vodka maybe the cheapest of the three, it is still priced in the range of premium and popular vodkas like Stoli and Monopolowa. I paid $25.95 for a 1.75 Liter bottle of original Russian Standard. You can expect to see it priced between $23.00 and $32.00 at your favorite, local liquor store. I’ll confess to two things prior to buying this: One, I was attracted by the interesting looking bottle, with Russian Calligraphy; supposedly named for Peter the Great. The bottle alone makes for good, drink conversation. Two, I didn’t actually pay $25.95. The liquor store was closing and I happened to be shopping at a most opportune time with liquor being sold at 50% off of shelf price. I paid about $13.00 for my first, 1.75 Liter bottle of Original Russian Standard . As someone who enjoys $20.00-and-under vodkas like Svedka and Ruskova, I was anxious to try an original Russian Standard Vodka at a most unoriginal price.

Russian Standard Vodka Tasting Notes

I expected good things from such a tasty looking bottle, and my first sip of original, Russian Standard Vodka, did not disappoint. When sampling new, vodka I like to pour a couple of sips worth at room temperature directly into my martini glass. The Russian Standard Website recommends that you drink their vodka at a temperature between 41 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Sampling at a slightly warmer, room temperature in my opinion, makes the aromas and taste more noticeable. Russian Standard original has a very light, crisp and almost transparent nose. There is very little of that ‘natural-gas’ spirit aroma of other vodkas. First sip is thin, high and what the New Amsterdam Vodka wishes it was: Crisp, yet not overly thin-pitched and bitter. Russian Standard Vodka does have a bite, and a mild burn going down, but finishes very smoothly. I took a couple of shots and poured it into my stainless steal shaker with 4 ice cubes. I plopped an olive in my martini glass and did the usual ritual: Shook the vodka vigorously until my fingers were on the verge of frost-bite from the freezing stainless steel and my right arm was about to fall off. I poured the ice-cold, frothy vodka into a martini glass enjoying the way the shadowy olives formed steam inside the icy, transparent liquid. The colder temperature tamed the frontal bitterness of the vodka significantly. As a martini, Russian Standard is crisp, clean and sugar-like with very light overtones of vanilla and almond. Russian Standard vodka has very little caramel or other darker, earthy tones.  Russian Standard is not a complex vodka, but it is infinitely enjoyable and drinkable as a martini and would go very much unnoticed in a desirable way as a mixer. The entire, first martini went down smoother than any other vodka I have ever had. I have to score this one a little bit higher than my previous favorite; Svedka.

Final Rating: 91

Delicious, thin, clean vodka with a light first bite, but a sugary, crisp vanilla finish which makes you crave your second martini.  Russian Standard is the best I’ve had for under $26.00.

  • Taste: 91
  • Smoothness: 91
  • Character: 80
  • After Taste: 91
  • Mixer: 95

 

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New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam VodkaHow do you rate New Amsterdam Vodka?  

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[Total: 5 Average: 3.2]

It’s not because I like Cheap Vodka that I couldn’t wait to try New Amsterdam Vodka. For me, really cheap Vodka is Taaka. There are better vodka brands that are still considered cheap by vodka drinkers, where-as Taaka is considered downright undrinkable by some. So how does New Amsterdam Compare? I thought very highly of New Amsterdam Gin and numerous friends agreed that it is a great gin for the price, so this is one I looked forward to trying and because it is priced about 50% higher than Taaka, I anxiously expected it to be notably better than what I would personally consider a, cheap vodka. So, how does New Amsterdam Stand up to a  cheap vodka and for that matter, a better one?

Ringing out the New Year with New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam Tasting Notes

To me, tasting Vodka is often like hearing musical notes on a staff. Each flavor has its own pitch. The darker, heavier ones are lower on the staff and the crisper, light and thin ones, are higher up on the staff. I Must say that New Amsterdam is a very high-pitched Vodka. It has a very crisp, thin bite to its nose and rings crisper and more bitter on the very first sip. If this does not sound like a ringing endorsement, it is not a bad one either. New Amsterdam has an adjustment period where you have to convince yourself that the thin bitter front isn’t going to go down too harshly. This Vodka is not overly harsh going down, but it does have a very shallow, thin bite that burns the top-end of your palate. It is crisp, thin and sweet, yet not much in the way of complexity or character. I believe that some people rate vodka on how little flavor it has. While Taaka is a truly cheap vodka I think it actually has more character and flavor than the New Amsterdam vodka at nearly half the price. I won’t mistake character and complexity for being an un-smooth vodka. I’ve come to appreciate the darker nose; vanilla, butter, rum and caramel in vodkas like Pearl or even the bargain-based bottom end Taaka. If Taaka and Pearl Vodka are a low A, then the New Amsterdam vodka is a high C above the treble-cleff staff. New Amsterdam is tinny, thin and crisp; not overly smooth, but not overly harsh. New Amsterdam doesn’t make a great martini because its front-end is just too darn bitter for sipping. New Amsterdam Vodka, I project, would make a very good mixer with any type of juice or sweetener because it is too light in flavor to overpower anything that you put in it. Cranberry juice would very easily mask its bitter front end. I also think that New Amsterdam Vodka would make a very good Cosmo when used with Leopold Bros Cranberry Liquer.

New Amsterdam Vodka Rating: 73

  • As a Martini: 68
  • As Shots: 72
  • As Mixer: 78
  • As a Cheap Vodka: 74
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Youngs Double Chocolate Stout

Youngs Double Chocolate StoutA four pack of Youngs Double Chocolate Stout in the 16.9oz cans found it’s way to my home by mistake. I was at a beer and wine store looking at the dark imported beer when I grabbed a 4-pack of the Youngs Stout, thinking I was getting an unusual variety of Guinness. It is close, but not quite the same. This one is made in England. While the size of the can and familiar rattling of the plastic ball is the same as Guinness, the most notable difference is chocolate. I don’t mind hints of dark chocolate and coffee in my stout beers, but I was a little put off by the label which indicates that chocolate flavor is intentionally added to the brew. I prefer beers where the hints of dark chocolate flavoring comes as a natural result of brewing process and aging in the barrel. See my review on Bourbon Barrel Stout. To be honest, I would not have bought the Youngs had I read the label more carefully and had I known it was only 5.5% alcohol as opposed to the hefty 10.3% alcohol level of premium beers like Bourbon Barrel Stout and Woodcutter # 5 by Odell brewing in Fort Collins. England is a good distance away from Fort Collins, Colorado and so is the taste of this interesting beer.

Tasting Notes

The pouring and appearance of Youngs Stout is very similar to Guinness and in the way that the foamy head sticks to the inside of your glass. The aroma of Youngs might make you think you’re about to drink a chocolate milk shake from McDonalds. Milk chocolate, more than beer is the first thing I imagined before the beer touched my lips. While the actual taste of Youngs is a bit chocolaty, it really does taste more like a good dark beer than a chocolate milk shake. The Chocolate Stout has a pleasant, smooth and light taste of vanilla, milk and caramel along with a hint of hershey-like instant chocolate flavoring. It is really not bad, especially if you are a milk chocolate lover and don’t mind it being artificially introduced into your beer. Many of the beer snobs online described a lactose taste in this particular creamy stout beer. I would agree with this perception. Overall, it’s a good beer, but is it a hit?

Ratings: 84 / 100

From 1 – 100, I give Youngs Double Chocolate Stout an 84. It is good, overall, but the chocolate flavoring make it a little bit too sweet for me to consider it among my favorites dark beers or preferred next to a black patent malt.

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Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur




leopold bros cranberry liqueurI was recently given a bottle of Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur for Christmas. I love to try new liquors, so needles to say, the cork on the cranberry liqueur only lasted until the same evening I brought it home and popped it open for a sample. Though I am not a fan of sweet type drinks or liqueurs, they do have their place; either for mixers or sipping on a cold, winter evening. Leopold Bros is a small batch distillery in Denver, but the cranberry liqueur is made from real cranberries from New England. I was impressed with the 20% alcohol rating on the bottle and thought this might be something I could enjoy either as a splash in my vodka martinis ala cosmopolitan or mixed with bourbon whiskey for a tangier tasting Manhattan. Of course, it can also be drank straight which is how I tried my first sip.

Tasting Notes

I will confess that I didn’t take much time to smell the cranberry liqueur before taking my first sip. As a result, I quickly got a taste somewhat reminiscent of Robitussin cough syrup. It was not all that bad, so I took a step back; cleared the fumes, and swished the cranberry-colored liquid in my glass. My nostrils were filled with the very deep and pleasant sensation of fresh cranberries. Ahh..much better. The next sip tasted as cranberry-like and delicious as its aroma. I loved it. Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur would make a great holiday shot or served over ice in a highball glass. It is rich and tart, but very satisfying and refreshing. I immediately though of how well this would go with Vodka in a Cosmopolitan. Instead of diluting the vodka with straight cranberry juice, why not blend it with an alcohol distilled from real cranberries for a much heartier, more robust and tastier Cosmo? I think this cranberry liqueur would also go very well shaken with and poured over crushed ice in a small, whiskey glass. But, there is one other way to enjoy Cranberry Liqueur.

Strong Drink Recipe using Leopold Cranberry Liqueur

I thought bourbon would be the perfect match for a rich, tart and tangy cranberry liqueur and my instincts didn’t disappoint me.

New Recipe for your Martini Glass

Ingredients

  • 1 Part Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur
  • 2 Parts Bourbon

Shake ingredients with crushed ice and pour into your martini glass. Add a cherry or orange slice.
Not sure what you’d call this drink, but the

    Leopold Bros cranberry liqueur

mixes really well with Bourbon. A bourbon cranberry splash is a great way to warm up on a cold winter day or evening.

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75 South Whiskey

75 South Whiskey

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[Total: 8 Average: 2.5]

75 South is a lower-shelf, blended whiskey. I picked up a 1.75 Liter bottle of this at a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona while my wife was shopping for wine for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll be honest, when I checked out of the store, I still wasn’t sure if I was holding a bottle of bourbon or scotch. The label didn’t exactly go out of its way to explain what this brownish liquor was, either. The bottle simply read, Blended Whiskey.   At $10.99 for a 1.75 Liter bottle, I figured it was a bargain whatever it was and I can drink either bourbon or scotch so the 75 South was worth sampling. The label, 75 South, sort of hinted to me that it tastes a little bit more like something from Kentucky than say, Scotland. There is a section of Interstate 75 South that runs through Tennessee,Kentucky,Georgia and Florida. Does that geography have something to do with its name? The whiskey looked a little darker in color which also made me think of the richer, darker taste of bourbon. I tend to gravitate more towards heavier whisky in the colder months of the season, so I wouldn’t mind having a bottle of bourbon on hand.

75 South Tasting Notes

This is a cheap, blended whiskey so don’t expect me to be overly descriptive. The nose of 75 South definitely suggests bourbon flavor. It is caramel-like with a hint of oak wood and sherry. The front of it tastes like bourbon; maybe a little thinner and with just a hint of maple. I expected the 75 South to have an awfully short-lived and harsh finish, but that wasn’t the case. To be sure, it has a thinner palate than Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark, but it not entirely unsmooth. For the price, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy 75 South for mixing or sipping on the rocks. I rarely like cheap whiskeys unless it’s scotch for mixing Rob Roys, 75 South is actually a bourbon like whiskey that I can enjoy by itself.

75 South Final Rating: 79

On a scale of 1-100, I’d give 75 South whiskey a 79. Prior to this short write-up, I read another, less favorable review which had 75-South rated at 67 out of 100. I don’t understand such a harsh rating on a blended whisky that is not harsh at all. For only $2.00 more, I’d rather drink Ezra Brooks, but 75 South is not a bad tasting whiskey at all.


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[Total: 8 Average: 2.5]