I am a traveler by nature. The pity is that I have to work too much to have the resources for traveling. The good news is that I can travel in mind, for example in Vodka matters. I collect Vodka brands. In my youth I started collecting small bottles of Whiskey, but now I am a fan of international Vodka brands. New Zealand is still on my wish list when it comes to traveling, but I have already tested the Vodka from there. The Bacardi-owned Kiwi-brand is named “42Below” and consists of one excellent pure Vodka and four interesting flavored ones. The brand-name refers to the position of the distillery near the equator. It may also relate to the position you find yourself in when you had some Vodkas too much. If you don’t drink Vodka responsibly, you won’t live long enough to travel widely in such delicate matters.

Experience New Zealand by its Vodka flavors
On the 42Below Vodka website you can find a bottle of 42Below Vodka surrounded by a chaos of photographs that make no sense at all in combination. You don’t really get if it is about design, good taste or whatever. Do not ponder too long. It is far more interesting to enjoy the great design of the 42Below bottle. It is slim and transparent and looks very elegant. Pure and flavored Vodkas are delivered in identical bottle designs. What differs is a small inscription on the lower section of the bottle and a small banderole in the same color. Both inform you about the flavor. 42Below Vodka with passion fruit carries a red banderole, New Zealand Vodka with honey aroma a yellow one. Kiwi and Feioja are presented with a green banderole around the bottleneck.

The idea for a New Zealand Vodka brand came from a man called Geoff Ross. In 1999 this man read a magazine-ad about Vodka and got entangled in emotions at the absurd declaration that it came “from a pure country”. The purest country Geoff knew was New Zealand where he came from. So he started making a native Vodka against many obstacles and tons of negative comments about his preposterous plan. Vodka is not exactly a traditional New Zealand drink. What I love about 42Below is the self-ironic publicity campaign – and of course, the excellent taste of the different Vodkas. The people behind 42Below entertain their potential customers with dry humor. In one ad, you can see a bottle of 42Below with the remark “Drunk all over the world, like Keith Richards”. In another, you see a bottle of 42Below covered with a paper bag that has two cut-out eyes. It says “The Vodka no one has heard of from the country no one has heard of.” Low name recognition Ratings are not given anymore, be sure. The funny advertising campaign got viral. It often reminded my of the intelligent and immensely successful campaign for “Lucky Strike”. The smooth and excellent taste of 42Below did the rest. The best wheat and the cleanest water from New Zealand end up as a very good Vodka. Another ad in the campaign concludes hat “Everyone loves 42 Below. Except for the ones that don’t.”

Aroma or no aroma
I know for many Vodka purists there is no such question. They’d never ever try a flavored Vodka. When I open a bottle with flavored 42Below Vodka, I find myself beamed into a New Zealand wilderness. I forget about the rest of the world. It is a delightful experience to just taste and follow the feelings that arise. I have recently tried to get at a bottle of 42Below with Feioja aroma because that is new to me. It is a mixture of pineapple and guava combined in one fruit. Feioja fruits are grown in a few countries worldwide. New Zealand is amongst them. Add natural spring water from volcanic resources, distill it with non-genetically grown wheat and filter it 35 times with different filters. The stunningly clean result is 42Below Vodka. The fact that a branch of Bacardi bought the successful New Zealand Vodka tells enough about its quality. For safeties sake one ad of 42Below makes clear that the kiwi aroma is not recruited by the use of the famous Kiwi bird in the distilling process. I was happy to hear that.

I served “Kiwi-Berry Caipiroska” and “Smooth Operator”-Cocktails with honey-flavored 42Below at my last barbecue-party. They were enjoyed with exclamations of delight. For me the main question directed at 42Below Vodka is not the famous question from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. It is not a “to be or not to be”-question if you become a lover of flavored New Zealand Vodkas. It just takes the openness to allow any Vodka experience. You get the answer with time. You always have the alternative of pouring yourself an unflavored 42Below Vodka. One secret has still to be revealed. The chaos of photographs on the 42Below website is no chaos. You just need to put the cursor of your computer-mouse above each shot and read what’s hidden behind it. If it makes you any wiser, depends. Likewise you should try and find out what’s behind the different Vodka flavors of 42Below. Make friends with a cocktail shaker. Maybe you become the most famed barkeeper in New York. It all depends on the right spirit.

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