Files recovered on November 30th, 2010.
Vodka is one of those essential mixers that every liquor cabinet should have, and at the same time it is perhaps one of the least appreciated alcohols. Cheap, bottom shelf distillations are passed around like currency at frat parties and, and when they want to step up their game bros talk of “going all out and buying a handle of Smirnoff triple distilled,” as if they were doing someone a favor. Ask for a “Mid-shelf” White Russian at a bar, you’re almost guaranteed to get a mouthful of that Absolut garbage. Vodka is treated as a means to an end, a way to get drunk on the cheap rather than an experience in and of itself. While I can understand partying on a budget, I can’t condone such abuse of this great liquid.
The quality of a vodka is ultimately determined by it’s distillation process. You hear terms such as “Triple distilled” thrown around a lot without any real knowledge of the industrial distillation process. The object of distillation is two fold: to get the ethyl alcohol content to the desired concentration, and to remove impurities. While the former can be achieved in a single pass in the distillation column, the latter is much more significant. If you start with a 20% EtOH concentration with say, 10% impurities (note: i’m just bullshitting numbers as I don’t know what typical starting concentrations or industrial standard practices on vodka production are) you can achieve the desired 40% concentration through one pass of the column, but still have 9% impurities. What’s much more likely, if I had to guess, is they get a 96~98% EtOH solution at the end of their process and dilute it down to 40%. This maximizes the efficiency of the process and minimizes impurities. The point here is it’s all about how you get to that final concentration; it depends on how many times you run it through the column, as well as how many plates in your column. The latter is something you won’t find on any bottle, so you don’t really know. Triple distilled in a 5 plate column is way more impure than triple distilled in a 13 plate column (Once again bullshitting numbers.)
Editor’s Note: NERD!
In addition to distillation, filtration is an incredibly important step but one that is often boasted about without merit. As long as you are using proper filtration materials in your distillery there won’t be much difference no matter how fancy you make it sound on the label. Using “Silver filtration” won’t improve on the flavor any more than standard industrial filtration. There’s a reason why chemists and biologists use charcoal for adsorption separation processes, using fancy sounding materials and precious metals won’t improve on their ability to aid the filtration process.
The point of all this is that cheap vodkas are cheap because the people who make it don’t spend the money on running their distillation columns, they get it distilled once or twice, filter it and ship it. Unlike some other alcohols the price is incredibly reflective of the purification process in Vodka. So you really do need to spend that extra 5-10$ to get good quality, you cheap bastard.
Which brings us to whatever the hell this is. Frankly, I have no idea where this bottle came from, or how old it is, and most importantly where to friggen get it. What I cant tell you is that it’s a domestic Russian vodka that you won’t find on your packy shelf. “Санкт-Петербург водкa” or “Saint Petersburg Vodka” is produced by the Liviz (ливиз) distillery in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Liviz is one of the oldest distilleries in Saint Petersburg, established in 1897, as well as one of the largest.
Ladies and Gents – Санкт-Петербург водкa
The production of their vodka’s is a seven step process. The first four being distillation (So it’s “Four times” distilled if you want,) the fifth being cleansing using reverse osmosis, the sixth being filtration, and the seventh an additional ultra-fine filtration. Their “current” site lists two types of vodka, “Golden Moscow” and “Diplomat,” Diplomat coming in three different varieties, so whether or not “Санкт-Петербург водкa” is still produced is unknown.
What they say: клссическая русская водка, изготовлена из высококачественного зернового спирта и мягкой питьевой очищенной воды. состав: вода питьевая исправленная, спирт этилоый ректификованный “экстра”, сахарный сироп.
Taste: 10 – This. Is. Vodka. You may have heard the saying Vodka should taste like water, but have no idea what that means since all the cheap piss you’ve been drinking tastes like paint thinner. Even higher quality mixing vodkas like Ketel One or Hammer & Sickle have a taste to them. Not this vodka, this is water.
Aftertaste: 10 – Non-existent, leaving a warm feeling in your mouth and throat.
Smoothness: 9 – Goes down with literally no burn, but has a kick to let you know its still there.
Aroma: N/A – Unfortunately I have little to no capacity to smell, so it smells like everything else in life. It feels like I’m working in a lab when I wave it by my nostrils, so I guess it’s pretty pure smelling.
Mixability: 10 – Quite possibly the best White Russians I’ve ever had. Because it has almost no taste drinking it straight there is no problem mixing this with pretty much anything.
Value: N/A – You find me who can import this and I will do naughty things for you in return.
Honesty: 9 – The bottle loses a single point for its color scheme, but otherwise this bottle covered in nothing but Russian text says “Yes, I love vodka and I don’t fuck around.”
DJ Lvl: 9.0
Total: 48/50 |+| Metric Average 9.6
I’m sure this isn’t he be all end all of vodkas, and more than likely its probably a low end vodka in Russia with a name like St. Petersburg Vodka, but god damn is it good. There’s just such a difference between the cheap shit we make over here and the real deal. Ultimately I had to drop it down a bit in score due to the fact that it’ll probably be a while before I can get another bottle, but if you’re ever in Russia make sure to stop by a bar and treat yourself to something domestic, because it really is unlike anything else.