Shortly after reviewing St. George’s Terroir Gin I got an email from William at Vestal Vodka if I would like to try their terroir vodkas. I’m not one to say no to free booze, so a couple of days ago two samples arrived at work hailed by ‘it’s for Sjoerd, I wonder what that is…’ in a rather sarcastic way.
Anyway, I did explain to Vestal that I am not very familiar with vodka and have never actually set down to ‘assess’ one. Luckily that didn’t stop them.
The only vodka I ever actually LIKED, instead of drank just to get hammered in Belarus, was St. George’s (again, them) Hangar One, when it was still their brand. It was different from everything else, also because it was made from wheat instead of potatoes. To my very limited knowledge, that was important.
Along comes Vestal, a vodka brand which makes all their product from potatoes. They use very small scale farmers and distill on a small scale too, to keep as much of the artisanal feel as possible. They chose their farmers for the quality of their taters and the way they grow and pick them.
Their two terroirs released so far are from the Podlasie and Kaszebe regions of Poland, respectively in the east and north.
Vestal Podlasie vodka, 2010 vintage, 40%
On the nose it gives a very rich scent, right away. Chaff of barley in a fresh way, lemon sherbet. Very crisp and I can imagine this working at colder temperatures. Absolutely nothing like the big commercial brands with their sickly sweet and chemical smell. The palate is tingling but gentle at that. Rich and luxurious with a grain like flavour, some bitterness and that sherbet again. The finish is pretty long and has a tad of a gasoline flavour, but strangely tasty at that. Pretty sweet.
Vestal Kaszebe vodka, 2010 vintage, 40%
This one smells a bit more chemical than the first but only slightly. Again a barley like scent and this is almost like a whisky spirit. Rather earthy and less crisp, but that results in more of a winter warmer. Slightly salty too. The palate is tingling like the first one and again, has a very whisky spirit like flavour. Soft, gentle and warming. The finish suddenly has vanilla custard and lemon quark.
I honestly thought these vodkas were produced from grain because of the scents and flavours. I might have to reassess my tasting notes and skills after this. Anyway, these two vodkas are, by far, the tastiest ones I have ever tried. Absolutely gorgeous, especially the first one.
The Kaszebe is for sale on Vestal’s site at £ 32 for half a liter, and the Podlasie was a Waitrose exclusive that is unfortunately no longer available on their site. If it was, I would buy myself a bottle right now. Bummer!
Thanks to William at Vestal Vodka for sending the samples!