The Vodka – The Event
I was privileged to be invited to attend a private tasting of elit™ Vodka last week.
When I received the professional photos of me holding a bottle of this very expensive bottle of vodka, two things jumped out immediately. One, the bottle was indeed beautiful. Two, the photo proved that I’ve been living gym-free for the last several months as my wrenched shoulder has been healing. How could I tell despite wearing black and having a black background? I’ve grown chins. Yes, that’s plural. And all the Photoshop in the world couldn’t make them go away.
But I’m not here to bemoan my less-than-fit state. I’m here to talk about this amazing event and the elit™.
The first surprise as I spoke with Meagan, the brand ambassador (cool title, huh?), was that Stolichnaya was the parent brand. This elit™ is the second edition of the Pristine Water series, the first having been released last year.
The Vodka – The Process (Readers Digest Version)
elit™ is a wheat-based vodka. The wheat is sourced from Russia, so it’s grown in cold, pristine areas and is free from any GMO nonsense. After the first distillation it undergoes a “freeze filtration” process.
This was a process created by the Russians when making their own vodka. At that time their barrels were set outdoors in the considerably cold Russian winter in order let the impurities settle to the bottom before being finished.
Today’s modern technology has made this process more dependable by controlling the temperature from first distillation to the final filtration through quartz sand and birch charcoal. The goal is the same – to ensure that all impurities settle to the bottom of the tanks so that only the pure vodka can be extracted.
By the way, the elit™ only goes through three distillations.
“We start with excellent product,” remarked Meagan. “So we don’t have to keep distilling and distilling to make it good to drink.”
The finished vodka is bottled in handblown crystal bottles crafted in Champagne by Royale du Champagne, a
historical crystal maker, and embellished with leather and palladium (a metal related to platinum), The box it’s packaged in is from New Zealand ancient Kauri wood, the oldest workable wood known to man. The Blue Spring in New Zealand, by the way, is the source for the pure water. This just touches on the process involved; you can get all of the information on the elit™ Pristine Water web site.
All of those processes add up to a 300 bottle limited run and a $3,000 price tag per bottle.
The Vodka – The Taste
So. How was the event and how did the vodka taste?
It was in the Lily Bar at the Bellagio. There were passed hors d’oeuvres which included Wagyu sliders, Lobster Tacos, Crab Poppers, and Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice Cakes.
Cocktails made with elit™ Vodka were Poinsettia Martini (elit™, Cinnamon Spiced Vermouth, Cranberry garnish) and elit™ Cheer (elit™, Hibiscus Tea Syrup – steep dried hibiscus blossoms in simple syrup – fresh lemon juice, orange bitters). Delicious.
After talking with a few folks and greeting old friends, the moment had arrived to taste the vodka. I don’t know how the others felt, but I was very excited!
The vodka was served to us in small stemmed glasses. As a wine aficionado, I didn’t just dive in and gulp it down. As you would expect, I completely analyzed it. Not surprisingly, there was no real fragrance; it was quite neutral. An ideal vodka – at least according to purists – should have no aroma.
In the glass, it was heavy, almost like glycerin. It was day-bright clear. As noted before, there was no real fragrance. On the palate, it kept its glycerin character and had an absolutely heavenly mouthfeel. I pulled a little air in and was surprised by the depth of character. (Just so you know – I was prepared to hate it and was loaded for bear to write a review slamming it. No.) Complex and nuanced, its finish was almost sweet, with citrus and vanilla lingering on the palate.
I asked Meagan if the elit™ had spent any time in oak and she answered in the negative.
“It has never been on the inside of a wood barrel.”
Hm. Interesting. With that sweet vanilla finish, I would have sworn that it spent some time in oak, but its crystalline color said otherwise.
“It’s part of the whole process to get it to this point,” she continued. “No barrels, no wood, other than the birch charcoal used in the filtration.”
I spent a little time alone on a sofa to savor this vodka and was quite pleased.
Of course I enjoyed every sip. At $3000 per bottle and with only four bottles in the entire state of Nevada, I figured this would be my only opportunity to enjoy such a spectacular vodka.
I was wrong!
Each person who came to the event left with a small bottle of the Stolichnaya elit™ Pristine Water Series vodka. My tiny bottle – not in handblown crystal with the leather and palladium, but a great facsimile – is sitting in my freezer. Can’t wait to enjoy it again!
Except for the flowers at the end, all photos are courtesy of Stolichnaya.