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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: The Vodka Belt

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste some vodka.

For centuries vodka kept Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Swedes and Lithuanians warm during the freezing winters in the Vodka Belt. Recently, I wrote a Drinking Buddies column for DRAFT magazine about vodka, which is now the coolest spirit on the international party circuit.

Vodka started out being distilled from grains like wheat and rye, along with potatoes. Despite an effort to keep it that way by the traditional vodka countries which resulted in a labeling compromise by the European Union in 2007, those ingredients have now been joined by new wave sources of fermentable sugars including grapes, apples and oranges.

Here are eight vodkas tasted for the column:

Blue Ice American Organic Wheat Vodka: An 80-proof spirit, it has a clean, warming base. There is a slight sweetness to the finish.

Cold River Blueberry Flavored Vodka: This 80-proof vodka opens with a clear blueberry aroma. The skins of the Maine blueberries dominate the flavor with a slight hint of spice for balance.

Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka: Infused with the only tea grown in the U.S., this 70-proof brown spirit from South Carolina delivers a classic southern sweet tea flavor. Dangerously smooth and sweet.

42 Below Vodka: Made in New Zealand and weighing in at 84 proof, this is a clean and warming shot. There is a slight hint of licorice in the finish.

Karlsson’s Gold Vodka: This Swedish vodka is made from “100% virgin new potatoes.” The 80 proof spirit has a slightly candy nose and a thin, light mouth feel. Overall clean and crisp flavor.

Svedka Clementine: A 70-proof vodka from Sweden, it has a fresh orange nose. Nice citrus flavor with almost an orange zest quality.

Three Olives Tomato Vodka: Made in England, this 70 proof vodka has a vine grown quality. The tomato base has slight hints of Italian spice in the finish.

360 Vodka: Distilled four times from American grain, this 80-proof vodka is smooth, round and warming.

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