Review – Russian Standard Vodka
It is a little-known fact that the chap who invented the periodic table of elements was also responsible for what is now claimed to be Russia’s number one premium vodka; quite an achievement considering vodka is their national drink. It was he who established the concept of producing a vodka using a specific recipe to produce a 40% abv. product, thus introducing a certain consistency that had been lacking until that time. Although the method of production is no doubt a whole lot more 21st Century than when this chap Mendeleev established these principles in 1854, they inspired the production of Russian Standard when it was launched in 1998. Russian Standard uses winter wheat as its base, and water from Lake Ladoga which of course is claimed to be particularly pure. The distillate is blended with water to bottling strength before undergoing a four-times charcoal filtration and then being rested in steel tanks for 48hrs before bottling.
Nose: The winter wheat from which this vodka is distilled is immediately evident on the nose as the sweet aroma of cream soda and cut grass rises. There is a definite warmth reminiscent of dry roasted cumin whilst a fresh-bread yeasty note is rather appealing. It’s all quite subtle, but certainly pleasant.
Neat: Smooth and very creamy upfront, continuing through the mid palate along with a slightly oily mouthfeel until just a touch of spice enters on the finish. A reasonable sweetness increases the overall perception of smoothness, but this is definitely not a harsh tasting vodka and there isn’t a hint of sharpness. Overall a reasonably pleasing taste, but not quite interesting enough to be considered a sipper.
Mixing: Although there is a moderate character to the flavour profile when tasted neat, it is not sufficient to carry through in mixed drinks. The absence of any particular negative aspects means that there is no reason not to use this vodka when mixing, but you won’t be able to tell that it’s Russian Standard you are drinking. Perhaps the exception is in the Kangaroo, but then that isn’t much different to drinking neat. This is not to say it doesn’t make decent cocktail, in fact the strength of this vodka is that it is sufficiently smooth to allow other ingredients to shine, whilst offering enough character of its own not to ensure there is a bit of a backbone to the drink. The signature ‘Fountain of Youth’ is just such an example. The subtle flavour profile means that drinks such as a Caipiroska, Twinkle and of course the Moscow Mule are very easy drinking offerings and even for a flavour-enthusiast like myself, rather refreshing. Used in bolder-flavoured drinks such as the Milano or Espresso Martini however, and you’re left wishing for a bit more depth.
Signature Cocktail – Fountain of Youth
50ml Russian Standard Vodka, 60ml Pomegranate Juice, 20g thinly sliced ginger root
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with ginger and mint.
Russian Standard Vodka is a solid offering that will appeal to those seeking an easy-drinking vodka for cocktail making. Lacking the character of flavour that defines many modern vodka’s, this classic will continue to appeal due to its approachable nature and wide availability.
Russian Standard Vodka is available to buy from Master of Malt.