Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Down the Hatch

Hopefully the endless nights of gazing at laptop screens and note taking have not driven too many of you to alcoholism. But if it has, there is good news; a new vodka has arrived from mother Russia.

Sputnik, named after its sexy low earth-orbiting comrade, is really great clean grain based vodka that won't blow a student budget. As a vodka drinker I bought it on a whim purely because of its name. 1. I like rocket ships and 2.is a lot of fun to say with a fake Russian accent. But my last minute bottle shop grab turned out to be a pleasant surprised, as it is actually really good. It is pretty mild on the palate once you get over the normal ethanol kick.


A quick trip to the company's web site and you soon will be well versed in the virtues of "birch coal filtration" and "natural water", but really all you need to know is simple. Sputnik is a grain based vodka so it has a short, very mild and clean aftertaste. This is great if you want to drink it on its own or oh so delicately flavor it with some thing like elderflour, orangeblossom or cucumber.

Now, to really get the best out of vodka you need to drink it properly. That means stick it in the freezer and put all fizzy, sweet concoction back in the cupboard. Actually throw anything pink, blue or purple in the bin, your taste buds deserve so much better than that crap. I would also recommend eating something while drinking, as you will get more out of the vodka. As well as the obvious fact that it will burn your insides if your stomach is empty, which inevitably leads to a bit of a vodka vom later on in the night.

Something salty like some olives, some caper berries. If you are feeling really Russian then go grab yourself some sausage and bread or even better some caviar. The salt will really complement the slightly sweet creamy taste as well as reduce the bitter aspect of the alcohol, as salt makes bitter things sweeter (total science fact).

Once your vodka is chilled between 0-5 degrees pout it out into some tall shot glasses. The first shot I always knock straight back, you get over the kick and after burn and it sets your palate up. The second shot follow shortly after. This time, do not swallow straight away, let it sit on the back of your tongue. The heat in your mouth will warm the vodka slightly and allow the subtle flavors to really open up and your will be able to taste what it all about. Don’t hope for an epiphany or a big citrus hit, after all it is only a 30 bottle, but you will get a great creamy almost vanilla note coming through. Do this fairly quickly, you don’t have to hold it in your mouth for minutes or anything, it is not a mouth wash and you still want to have friends by the end of your vodka tasting experience. As you swallow you should notice that the taste disappears quickly and really none of it lingers much at all. At this point please take a drink of water and eat a salty snack.

Finally, please don't drink alone. After all if you do, there will be no one to show off your great new tasting technique to. Or to lavishly complement you on your great choice of sprit.

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