Review: Van Gogh Vodka
This vodka was something of a last-minute addition to the lineup. While the regular bottle retails for around $30, Plaza Liquors had airplane bottles by the register for $1.50 each, which, compared to the nearly $5 cost each of similarly-sized Belvedere and Cîroc bottles, was quite a bargain price. Additionally, the Bartender had enjoyed their flavored offerings several times before, and was interested to discover whether the straight vodka would hold up in comparison.
Initially, there wasn’t much to impress. In addition to the cap seeming particularly difficult to open (an anti-drunk measure, perhaps?), the first whiff produced little other than the typical grain-vodka smell, with perhaps a touch more of the medicinal about it than usual. Once properly poured into a shot glass, however, an orange-rind note came to the forefront, adding a badly-needed touch of intrigue.
Fortunately it’s far smoother on the tongue than the nose might lead one to believe; unfortunately, the flavor could accurately be described as “timid”. The orange-rind is most prominent in the front of the mouth, with a bit of the typical grain-vodka vanilla extract mid-palate. The finish is agreeable enough – a bit bitter, spicy, with a subtle cinnamon kick – but so mild that you have to really go looking for it.
The timidity extends to the martini test as well. The vermouth brought out both the cinnamon and bitter notes, but none of it strongly enough to qualify as particularly distinctive. The Bartender was about to chalk it up to the “pleasant but uninspiring” category when she got down to the bit by the olive. Suddenly the flavors fell into place – the bitterness complemented the saltiness of the olive brine, and the orange notes helped balance out both and keep them from becoming overwhelming.
Not the most singular vodka on the market, but not a bad option either. If you’re a fan of dirty martinis especially, it might be worth trying. And the bottle’s design is one of the more eye-catching for your liquor shelf. B-