Vodka Week looks to be stretching itself out to something more resembling a fortnight, but we’ve come nearly to the end of the Bartender’s planned review lineup. And, much to her relief, this is the final grain vodka she has on the list.
Belvedere, in addition to having the classiest bottle of the bunch (hard to beat neo-Classical architecture for sheer elegance), is also distilled from rye, not wheat, which might account for it having the most distinctive flavor as well. Unfortunately, it also serves as an excellent example of the dangers of individuality for its own sake, as the flavor in question is a steely, metallic note reminiscent of nothing so much as envelope glue.
Yes, envelope glue. The Bartender couldn’t quite believe it either, but her years as an administrative assistant have left her rather familiar with the flavor, and it dominates Belvedere’s mid-palate.
In all fairness, this is possibly the smoothest vodka of the bunch, with even less burn than Grey Goose. But the strange flavor combined with an unpleasantly bitter finish (the Rebel Spouse thought it reminiscent of grape seeds) makes it fairly unpalatable when drunk straight.
The taste improves immeasurably in a Martini. The bitterness recedes into the background, and while the vermouth brings the metallic notes (in all their stationery-adhesive glory) to the forefront, they become oddly refreshing at colder temperatures. But once again there’s just not that much complexity to the flavor; you get the metallic notes, the slight bitterness, and then that’s pretty much that.
The Bartender applauds the makers for coming up with a slightly different take in an overcrowded category, but given the mixed results and the $30-$35 price point, it’s not something she can recommend except to hardcore vodka fanatics and collectors of pretty bottles. C