Review – Zubrowka Vodka
Whether it is a feature unique to bison grass, or we should all be sticking our lawn cuttings into a bottle of vodka I’m not quite sure, but Zubrowka is certainly unique in being the first to make a commercial success of a grass-infused vodka. The vodka itself hailes from Poland, and its unique taste is achieved through the addition of a tincture of bison grass which is added after the distillation of the rye base.
Nose: Grassy, creamy and vanilla-ry with a moderate alcohol burn and more than a hint of coconut. The combination of lighter and earthier aromas is quite intriguing and suggests the tongue will not be disappointed.
Neat: Sweet and creamy up front before the grassy elements come out to play. When they do, they are less are less ‘freshly cut’, and more ‘mildly composted’ in so far as they are more complex than might have been expected. Spice from the rye is very evident and this helps to both cut through the grass flavour, and add contrast in a way that other grains or potato likely wouldn’t. The combination is an interesting dance of flavours that lingers with almost a hint of oak on the palate. Whilst it doesn’t quite enter the realms of a sipping vodka for me, there is plenty of promise for cocktails.
Mixing: The distinctive flavour means that this is not a vodka to go hiding amongst the other ingredients, somewhat of a strength in my book. I’m not the first to note that it partners particularly well with apple, either in the very simple Tatanka that tastes suspiciously like Earl Grey tea, or the more complex but extremely moreish Escalator Martini. Vodka and ‘long’ drinks are not typical favourites of mine, but the Amber with its touch of spice from the ginger is well worth a visit. These drinks demonstrate that getting it right with this vodka and you’ve got a real gem on your hands, but its slightly lacklustre performance in drinks such as the sour Balalaika or herbal Milano show that there is no need to stray too far away from the reliable flavour combinations. It’s no shortcoming however that this vodka doesn’t ‘work’ in everything, when it does, it’s great.
Signature Cocktail – Apple Martini Full Moon Cocktail
50ml Zubrowka Vodka, 0.25 Green Apple, 10ml Apple Liqueur, 10ml Elderflower Liqueur
Muddle apple in base of shaker, add rest of ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with an apple slice.
Zubrowka is a delightfully unusual vodka that makes for an interesting and tasty ingredient in a range of cocktails, particularly when apple juice is involved.
Zubrowka 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.