After a long time away, it’s good to get back on the vodka review train again. I’ve touched on a lot of great liquids but it’s time to challenge my senses once again with a “neutral based” spirit: vodka. The United States is well known for creating the most clear, crisp and distilled vodka to the point where most vodka’s have no character at all. It’s okay to focus on a true neutral spirit with as many distillations as you need but my goal, now, is to test to see if a Russian imported vodka will contain more character and flavor than most US marketed competitors.
St. Petersburg Vodka has been granted a 94 point rating by the Beverage Tasting Institute in 2008, so I have some high hopes for this spirit. Of course, after the pour it’s clear that this vodka is indeed… clear. As it should be, we’re not looking at any type of cloudy beverage, it’s as close to water as you can get without being 100% h2o.
The first scent is as I’d expect from a vodka: ethenol. You’re not going to walk away with out the potent smell of alcohol with St. Petersburg Vodka but that should be expected, you’re working with a vodka and it’s not going to be coated with sweets nectars and properties to “dull the senses.” I stirred the air around the glass and brought it back to my nose to gather the zests of lemon peel, fairly strong in their appearance in this vodka. After the lemons I get hints of caramel flavorings, subtle but behind the stronger lemon profile.
If you let your mind push away the more intense alcohols, I’m almost getting a slight shochu flavoring in St. Petersburg, reminding me of the Haamoni Smooth Lemon Shochu I reviewed a few weeks ago; no doubt I’d not have picked this scent up if I had not reviewed Haamoni.
Okay, on to the taste, I worked long on the nose as it was more complex than most vodka brands I’ve smelled, probably because most of them have been brands marketed towards the United States standard “neutral based spirit” category. Sipping it, I’ve found a nice liquid viscosity that’s pleasing on the palate, if you’re a sipping vodka enthusiast than you’ll respect that appeal.
The initial attack is subtle with hints of lemon but nothing that will suggest this is infused with the citrus; it’s enough to give you some initial impressions and let you look forward to the mid-palate play. The mid-palate has a bit of dull chocolate and light vanilla frosting style thoughts, but again, nothing that is going to make you think its flavored. These are just subtle flavors that come across in the liquid as it crosses my tongue and nasal passages.
The finish of this vodka is not offensive or followed by a war on your palate. You’ll get a slight alcoholic bite about 10-seconds after the liquid leaves your mouth but, overall, a fairly clean and crisp finish. About 30-seconds later, the finish arrives with that of unsweetened cocoa powder, something I’ve actually tasted on its own before, so I’m familiar with the taste profile.
Overall, this vodka can be sipped straight and become a respectable palate pleaser. I believe you’ll find this vodka goes great in citrus-style cocktails that use fresh squeezed lemon juice. You should be able to find St. Petersburg Vodka in the United States for under USD $20.00.