A mind trip to Poland: Review Vestal Vodka
Surprise, surprise: Yesterday I was invited to travel more Vodka brands by a Polish Vodka company. Of course I am not corrupt. The invitation to travel Poland in Vodka matters arrived via sample. A Polish family business named “Vestal” surprised me with four small bottles filled with their Vodka. The sample bottles were not labeled officially. Instead they wore a handwritten slip of paper that informed me about the contents of each sample. “Dziękuję serdecznie”, John and William. Let’s go for a happy Vodka journey to Poland.
A most interesting question
It all began when a Polish father and his son mused on the differences of Vodkas. The discussion must have been comparably short, because most Vodka drinkers know: There are not too many differences nowadays. That was quite different in the past, before Vodka was industrialized. What if wine was lacking different aromas and colors. Would anyone be interested in specific wines if they all tasted the same? Decidedly not. So, returning to the issue of a long Polish Vodka tradition, father and son decided to get deeper into the matter and produce an outstanding Vodka. In the matter of wine, several kinds of grape develop a very distinctive taste. In Poland, the potato is the prominent raw material for Vodka making. How can a potato have a distinctive character, except it is a couch potato? The Polish father also knew that territory and soil influence the aroma a wine can have. The most important difference between wines and Vodkas is the way they are produced. Wine is still handmade, Vodka is now an industrial product. In consequence of their Vodka studies, Vestal developed potato Vodkas with potato varieties from different parts of Poland. Here are the results: If you try “Vestal Pomorze 2013 Virgin Potato” and compare it to “Vestal Vodka 2013”, you find interesting differences. I admit I am not much of a potato eater, but I could develop a preference for liquid potatoes. Because, when I tested “Vestal Kaszebe 2013 Virgin Potato Vodka” which is aged with medium toasted French Oak against his competitor “Vestal Kaszebe 2009 Virgin Potato Vodka”, I was surprised again.
More surprises are waiting
John Borrell still lives in Poland. His main job is to care for the potato crops and the Vodkas that are made from them. If you ever look for John, go to “Kania Lodge” and you will be surprised again. John is a top-specialist in wine – and “Kania Lodge” is a classy Boutique-hotel plus restaurant near Gdańsk in Poland. It is known for one of the finest selections of wines. Who says so? Well, the “New York Wine Spectator”. Needless to say, “Kania Lodge” is also a fine place to taste the best Polish potato Vodkas. Johns son William nowadays lives in London. He cares for marketing. The British capital is the perfect basis for organized events around Vestal Vodka. That said, let’s get deeper into the matter as it gets more interesting every minute. Even potatoes can be an interesting issue with many aspects. For example, the aged Vodka “Vestal Kaszebe 2013” is made from Polish “Starka”, a traditional dry Vodka from Poland. It is well-known since the 15th century and is only produced in Poland and Lithuania. The unfiltered virgin potato Vodka from Vestal is aged in toasted American oak barrels and in Whiskey barrels from Japan plus some Cherry wood. The blend of it all makes a fine dark golden colored Vodka that reminds me of Whiskey. Wow! Take a look at the Vestal Vodka homepage and get a glimpse of this fine “Vestal Kaszebe Vodka” from 2013. There is one little flaw: If you do not live in Great Britain, you will possibly never come to taste this Polish delicacy. Up to now, all Vesta Vodkas can only be ordered in England or tested in “Kania Lodge”. I guess that will make some people travel.
Lets get at more Vodka surprises
Pouring some “Vestal blended potato Vodka” into my shot-glass, I imagine it was poured from the original Vestal bottle with the black label. The distiller says this Vodka is ideal for a great Martini cocktail because it has a distinctive flavor. The bottle design is very professional. All four Vestal Vodkas come in the same kind of bottle. The aged golden “Vestal Kaszebe” has a red lid while the other three have a black one. You should not confuse the aged “Vestal Kaszebe” with the un-aged “Vestal Kaszebe” Vodka. It is quite interesting to compare these two. Vodka is such a wonderland at times! You should know that “Kaszebe” seems to be a romantic rural county full of fairies and tales in northern Poland. In Germany, it is called “Kaschubei” or “Kaschubien”. Lakes, sandy soils, forests and farms dominate the landscape. It is here that the potatoes for the un-aged “Vestal Kaszebe” Vodka grow. You can almost taste the soil. You wish to go there and hear all the stories about this part of Poland. Over some Vodkas, there are no differences left between us all. No matter where you come from, you feel that every single life has meaning and is unique. Every single Vodka is the result of individual visions and efforts. What I still miss is a Vodka-related saying that is as wise as “In vino veritas”. Much truth may be found in wine – but much more may be found in an oldfashioned Vodka. You can become a philosopher over Vestal Vodka. Opening the miniature bottle of “Vestal Pomorze”, the Vestal website informs me that this Vodka is made from “red-skinned Asterix potatoes”. Wow again! These people know how to market their stuff. The Asterix potatoes come from the Baltic coast and leave a fragrant trace of liquorice and berries while you roll the Vodka on your tongue. I almost sound like a wine drinker now. This Polish Vodka is too good to gulp it down like the Russians do. You feel that someone with a deep knowledge about wines made it. Vestal Vodka is good for a lot of surprises. It is no surprise that I will empty all four miniatures right now.
A fluid diamond
Polish Vodka production has a long history of 600 years. This is reflected in some real great Vodka brands. Most of them are industrial Vodkas by now and taste very much alike. Vestal Vodka is like a liquid diamond among all the crystallized quartz. It makes you see that Vodka is not necessarily a boring, neutralized, relatively tasteless and odorless alcoholic drink that you either knock down in a second or dilute with other cocktail ingredients. Vestal Vodka is a rich, characterful and distinctive Polish Vodka. Its quality is influenced by changing weather conditions and potato qualities. Every year produces unique Vodkas. Vestal brings back the memory that Vodka is nothing to get drunk on fast. Well, you can – but you are nor required to. Vestal Vodka is a drink for Vodka gourmets. I fear it will also be a drink that overzealous EU-commissioners will put on their list of products that do not meet the European run-of-the-mill standards. Pour me another one. Gulp
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