Review – Adnam’s North Cove Vodka
The name you can give to a spirit that has spent some time minding its own business inside an oak barrel very much depends upon whether you have met any number of regulations regarding geography of origin, ingredients, length of time inside the barrel, and so on. Failing to fit into any particular category usually means being left with an ‘aged vodka’. A rarely sought after categorisation on account of the joy of vodka allegedly being its neutral taste. Adnam’s however aren’t a brand to worry too much about what might be customary, and instead have indeed quite intentionally allowed their not-at-all-plain-tasting vodka distilled from malted barley, wheat and oats to get to know the inside of new medium toast Russian oak casks for 6 months to produce their North Cove Vodka.
Nose: fresh vanilla, toasted marshmallow and coconut, sour cherry, cream soda, fresh wood shavings, semi-dry raisin, smoked salmon, lots of aromas but still light and the alcohol comes through still, smells like an aged vodka rather than a young whisky due to clean background
Neat: very sweet upfront, almost too sweet, vanilla, foam sweets, paprika spice builds in the middle towards a menthol finish, chewy toffee and butterscotch, creme brûlée, sticky toffee pudding. Not too dense though, retains a youthful corn element to it. Buttery throughout. Lots of oak influence but not astringent and the base spirits manages to shine through with cream soda character. Fudgy and slightly salty caramel added.
Mixing: This vodka is both tricky and a joy to mix with. Few cocktails are created with such a product in mind, and so on the one hand it sits awkwardly between the neutrality and lightness of a regular vodka, and the depth of flavour offered by an aged spirit with a more pungent base. Whilst it may hardly be considered a classic in this regard, it does invariably perform well. This vodka very much likes to offer an alternative to a gin, making for a deep and tactile Negroni for instance, or even a moreish and caramel-laden Martinez. By contrast it broadly does not like to be treated like a traditional vodka, a Twinkle for example becomes decidedly un-twinkly with North Cove. Think of it as an exuberant young Scotch, all keen but lacking the softness that comes with suffering age, and you’ll sensibly head towards a Penicillin, Affinity, or even a simple Scotch Sour. Then you’ll think this spirit could lead the charge for a more widely recognised category.
Adnam’s North Cove Vodka is an intriguing and delightful spirit that opens new opportunities for this traditionally bland category.
North Cove is available to buy from Master of Malt
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.