Review: Black Moth Vodka
I have never quite understood the marketing of many vodkas as ‘luxury’ products; as far as I can work out it is about as simple (and quick) a way to produce an spirit as possible. It certainly has a place in the spirits cabinet, but I have never found myself thinking, “I feel like treating myself, I’ll have a vodka”! However, the relatively neutral taste means that much fun can be had by adding other ingredients to create something a little more flavoursome. When said ingredients are truffles, the concept of a luxury vodka begins to make a little more sense.
Black Moth Vodka is distilled from a wheat and barley based neutral grain spirit in London using a column still. Five separate distillations are used to produce the base vodka, before being used to macerate the ground European truffle Tuber melanosporum. The resulting infusion is then triple filtered to create the finished product. The truffle season starts in December and lasts through only to January, meaning that a whole years supply must be purchased in one go, before being frozen to make the vodka throughout the year. For those interested in such matters, female are used to locate the truffles as the smell of the ripe truffles is very similar to the male pig, hence their excitement when they happen upon one! Dogs are however increasingly commonly used due to their reduced predisposition to eating the truffles once found!
Nose: Principally it smells like truffle vodka! For those less experienced in the world of truffles (this includes me), it is predominantly mushroomy in aroma, but lighter than you might imagine. Still earthy, but more autumnal wet woodland, than pungent mushroom. Overall it reminds me of mushroom and cream cheese pate. A touch of chamomile and citrus add an interesting complexity, whilst a hint of petrol offers an intriguing proposition to the mix.
Neat: The immediate flavour profile is very similar to the nose. The mushroomy-truffle is bold and assertive up front, but then taste fades quickly as some of the core vodka flavours vie for attention. There is a fleeting awkwardness in the mid-palate as the two elements fight it out, before the truffle lays the killer blow and returns to the top spot on the flavour profile. Overall it is pretty smooth, but there is also a hint of spice in the vodka that is not too dominant but adds contrast to the smooth creamy taste of the truffle. The earthy truffle lingers pleasantly before fading like a soft Autumn sunset to leave you craving just one more sip.
It has been said (by the producer!) that this vodka should in fact be treated like a gin when mixing. I can certainly see the sense in such advice; the earthiness of the truffle is not something that works well in most drinks designed for a neutral tasting vodka, and my trials revealed drinks in which either the truffle was lost entirely, or clashed with the other flavours. When used a substitute for gin, the results are indeed generally more successful. However, this is not a product that plays nicely with every other ingredient you pair it with. Whilst one of the great attributes of many gins are their versatility, the same cannot be said of Black Moth vodka. The truffle does really like to be the star of the show, and partnerships with other strong flavours such as vermouth and Campari really do not have a pretty result.
More considerate mixing does however result in some cracking libations that really demonstrate the quality of this product. By far my favourite was the simple vodka and tonic. Here the truffle shines and creates a wonderfully savoury drink that showcases both the luxurious flavours of the truffle and the vodka itself. When taking the place of gin in a Pink Lady, the truffle makes great friends with the grenadine and is enlivened by the lemon juice. The result is a lighter cocktail with the truffle taking a less dominant role in the drink but retaining all its earthy wonders. It is this ability to shine as a delicious and unique product that means it achieves the coveted title of ‘product of the month’.
Signature Cocktail: Lady Moth
2oz Black Moth Vodka
0.5oz lemon juice
half an egg white
Shake all ingredients first without ice, then with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
Black Moth Vodka is a must-try product for anyone with even a passing interest in spirits. It is cram-packed with earthy truffle flavours, backed up with a good quality vodka backbone. Judicious mixing will result in some unique and delicious cocktails that will have you reaching for the bottle time and time again.
Black Moth Vodka 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.