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Belvedere Intense


stevenstone

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I brought this up in another thread but didn't get much traction. Are artisan vodka makers, who aren't redistilling NGS trying to focus on the flavor and aroma they get from pot distillation? There really is no further to go in the direction of more neutral than neutral as far as I can tell.

Here's another example of what looks like a well funded operation making a pot distilled vodka and talking about flavor, character, and aroma.

http://www.purityvodka.com/1/1.0.1.0/2/1/

It looks to me like the only way to distinguish artisan vodka from established majors is in moving away from neutral.

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I'm not going to paste the TTB specs here, we all know them, but isn't the legal definition of 'vodka' neutral, no distinct taste, no distinct flavor? I would look at this as huge rewrite of the class definition of vodka.

All they are making is rye spirits, so how do you call it vodka? And how many postings have I seen here replying to folks you can't make 'vodka' in a true pot still, since you can't get the %alch high enough?

Come on guys, you jumped on me like stink on a skunk when I brought up aging whiskey in stainless with oak, but I don't see anyone calling these folks all sorts of nasty names when they are trying to corrupt or rewrite the classifications with such a blatent adulteration of the class called vodka.

Hello? Hello?

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Correct me if I'm wrong, isn't the definition "nearly tasteless" and colorless? I could be wrong, but that was always my understanding... A vodka that has that slight characteristic of what it was made from will fall under nearly tasteless... We make a vodka from apples that has an aroma but really doesn't have much of that flavor other then maybe a slight difference from a normal vodka. Just my 2 cents.

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I think the gov't while always trying to be exacting kind of messed up on this definition. Tasteless and odorless are hard to quantify, compared to more flavorful spirit of course they will have less taste and less odor, but none?. Every vodka I have ever had has some taste and some odor.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, "Neutral Spirits" and "Vodka" are NOT the same thing in the CFR SOI. Neutral Spirits is the "Class", "Vodka" is a type. And in fact Vodka appears in the definition in the SOI as MORE neutral than Neutral spirits definition. Also, note that "neutral spirits" aged in oak are in the "Neutral Spirits" class though clearly a grain spirit aged in oak will not be "neutral".

Note:

(a) Class 1; neutral spirits or alcohol. “Neutral spirits” or “alcohol” are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190° proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80° proof.

(1) “Vodka” is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

(2) “Grain spirits” are neutral spirits distilled from a fermented mash of grain and stored in oak containers.

And note also in the quote above from the SOI, no mention of "nearly", it says "without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color" (my emphasis added).

And I have to agree with Guy, "odorless and etc." are hard to qualify. Anyone distilling apples to vodka knows that the end result is simply not the same as rye to vodka or potatoes to vodka. The differences are subtle, but they absolutely exist.

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It is interesting that it is "distinctive" taste. I would say our vodka has an ambiguous sweetness to it because it is distilled from apples, but I would never say that the taste is distinctly apples, or distinctly anything for that matter. As has been said, everyone's taste is different and quantifying levels of taste are hard... but even the definition is relatively ambiguous. Is sweet a distinct taste, or does it have to be sweet like apples?

And thanks Ralph for clarifying the point and correcting me eloquently. I am not a DSP holder, so less involved with the more legal definitions... (though i do work at a licensed distillery as assistant distiller etc...)

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The Purity Vodka piece is interesting. Their 'pot still' has not one but two rectification columns. But then, at the very end of the article, they mention that the spirit they've just bragged about for several pages is then blended with vodka made in a column still.

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Apple vodka definitely has its own aroma and touch of character and the same is true of grape vodka. We've used variety of grains, potatoes, wheat, they all have their own character. The differences are subtle in some cases, but we've done as many as 3 distillations through a double column pot still and cannot take the character out of some products. I think you can't get to completely characterless and flavorless by distillation unless you are on an industrial scale continuous column. From what I can tell pot vodka distillers get there with carbon.

I know a vodka label with description of character and aroma won't get approval, but I've made vodka spirit that made it up to 95%ABV and was described as almost as flavorful as rum when people tasted it. I think bartenders and consumers might embrace it.

I think it's interesting Purity is claiming 34 times distilled. I think they are defining each plate in the columns as a distinct distillation. Does the TTB have a definition of a distillation?

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I think it's interesting Purity is claiming 34 times distilled. I think they are defining each plate in the columns as a distinct distillation. Does the TTB have a definition of a distillation?

No, it doesn't. The TTB doesn't define most things that go on labels. You're probably right about the interpretation. Not unfair. I've heard a column still described as x-number of alembics.

TTB, for example, doesn't define "pot still." Good thing, eh?

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Not sure if it's a good thing. That 34 times distilled thing is ridiculous. That would make a continuous column distilled NGS infinitely distilled!

In the end I guess the flavor aroma issue is largely academic as the only people sitting around sniffing vodkas and drinking them straight are distillers and serious enthusiasts.

I just wonder if you couldn't make some headway with bartenders by bringing something to the mixed drink other than alcohol.

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Yes, I met Purity's distiller/owner last week. He is claiming that every plate is a distillation. Technically it is in a way, but... theoretical vs. actual distillation, pot/alembic vs. hybrid vs. column... I wasn't going to argue while he was talking to the US Bartenders Guild NY Chapter (Of which I am a very active member) about his product. It just wouldn't be right. As a distiller I know how difficult it is to brand your product. By the way, out of the 30 or so bartenders and media in the group, there wasn't a single vodka lover. During the event there was a competition with a blind vodka tasting of five unknown vodkas. All we knew were that two were Polish, two Swedish, and one Dutch. Myself and another were able to name all five correctly. Purity, Ketel One, Belvedere, Uluvka, and Karlsson's. And I HATE vodka, but I pretty good taste memory. Except for the Purity, which I had just tried an hour earlier for the first time, I hadn't had any of the others in several years.

Apple vodka definitely has its own aroma and touch of character and the same is true of grape vodka. We've used variety of grains, potatoes, wheat, they all have their own character. The differences are subtle in some cases, but we've done as many as 3 distillations through a double column pot still and cannot take the character out of some products. I think you can't get to completely characterless and flavorless by distillation unless you are on an industrial scale continuous column. From what I can tell pot vodka distillers get there with carbon.

I know a vodka label with description of character and aroma won't get approval, but I've made vodka spirit that made it up to 95%ABV and was described as almost as flavorful as rum when people tasted it. I think bartenders and consumers might embrace it.

I think it's interesting Purity is claiming 34 times distilled. I think they are defining each plate in the columns as a distinct distillation. Does the TTB have a definition of a distillation?

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