Chopin (POL) VS. Schramm (CAN) Potato Vodkas

Chopin (Siedlce, Poland) Potato VS. Schramm Vodka Organic Potato (Pemberton Valley, BC)

Winner: Chopin (smoother, better balanced and cleaner)

1) Chopin, 40% ABV

On the back of the bottle:

“Frederic Chopin transformed the subtleties of the Polish spirit into enchanting, emotional music. That same passion is found in Chopin Vodka. Handcrafted in Poland with methods passed down from the fifteenth century, made exclusively with potatoes grown in the Podlasie region of Poland and distilled four times. The result is an exceptionally well-rounded vodka with a smooth, clean finish. Chopin is the spirit of Poland.”

-fun facts from chopin.com:

  • produced only during mid-September to early December with naturally grown potatoes (no chemicals)
  • potatoes are harvested late in the season to maximize the starch content (22% vs 12% normally) = richer flavour
  • as many as 40 potatoes (7lb/3kg)go into making ONE BOTTLE OF VODKA
  • fermentation for 3 days, 4x distilled to almost 100% ABV, 5x filtered

My notes:

  • $50 @ BC Liquor stores (2010) – same price point as Belvedere and Grey goose
  • Flavours: vanilla, green apple, anise, pepper
  • My rating as a Vodka: A-

Tasting notes (room temp, 5min airtime, neat): pours clear as usual, thicker than water. Aromatic minerals on the nose, quite clean with almost no nasal burn. Tastes of salty vanilla, hints of green apple, transitions into a peppery anise and warm finish. Alcohol burn is controlled and dissipates with warmth. 6/10-level sweetness and am very satisfied with the texture – not as syrupy as the Belvedere nor as watery as the Sobieski. The oils in the Vodka make it supple and round. More complex than the Belvedere but not quite as alcohol-burn-smooth.

2) Schramm Organic Vodka, 40% ABV

On the side of the bottle:

“In the heart of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia lies the beautiful Pemberton Valley where Schramm Vodka is carefully hand distilled in small batches. Here, locally grown organic potatoes and pure mountain water combine to produce a genuine, ultra premium vodka.”

fun facts from the Schramm website:

  • 5 different varieties of organic potatoes are used, some of which are culls – potatoes that are too large or small to sell @ the grocery store
  • 7kg of potatotes go into making a single bottle of Schramm vodka
  • vodka is produced in small batches; it takes 17 hours to reach the final distillation (for the final distillation actually, X), that of which only the “heart” is kept
  • that’s Mt. Currie on the bottle

My notes:

  • $49 @ BC Liquor Stores
  • Flavours: caramel, agave, black cherries
  • My rating as a Vodka: B-

Tasting notes: pours clear, thicker than water. On the nose SURPRISINGLY is just like a Tequila Blanco (nosing a Cazadores Blanco right at this moment), unoaked blue agave, though not roasted or as sweet. I can’t say I particularly enjoy this nose in a Vodka, however. Tastes of light caramel, agave syrup, and subtle black cherries in the finish. 7/10-level sweetness and not quite as smooth going down as the Chopin. Can’t say I love the flavour profile as a sipper. It’ll probably work nicely as a mixer I bet.

Belvedere (Pol) VS. Sobieski (Pol) Rye Vodkas

Belvedere (Zyrardow, Poland) VS. Sobieski (Gdanski, Poland)

Winner: Belvedere (smoother, more complex, more refined)

1) Belvedere, 40% ABV

On the back of the bottle:

“Warsaw, Poland. Since the fifteenth century, the world’s finest vodka has been crafted by Poland’s expert distillers. Belvedere, meaning ‘beautiful to see’, is the name of Poland’s Presidential Palace, and is a fitting title for perhaps the world’s smoothest vodka, made from 100% Polish rye and distilled four times. Created in the same tradition for over 500 years.”

  • 100% Dankowskie gold rye
  • 4x distilled
  • $50 @ BC Liquor Stores
  • Flavours: vanilla, white pepper, almond
  • My Rating as a vodka: B+ (revised Apr/2012)

Tasting notes (room temp, neat): pours crystal clear, thicker than water viscosity. Nose is super clean of any nasal alcohol burn with a welcoming light sweet tangerine peel, vanilla, and cream (two of which as advertised). Soft and creamy texture, notes of vanilla, with a peppery backdrop, 3/10-level sweetness, 7/10-level gentle warmth and 8/10-level smooth. Also detected some of the almond (also advertised). Great sippability and excellent transitions.

2) Sobieski, 40% ABV

  • 100% Dankowskie gold rye
  • distilled once (continuous distillation)
  • $25.50 @ BC Liquor Stores
  • Flavours: aggressive black pepper
  • My Rating as a vodka: B-

Tasting notes (room temp, neat): also pours crystal clear, and thicker than water viscosity. Stronger nose, traces of minerals, medium nasal tingliness, awakening of the senses. Much more aggressive pepperiness which floods all areas of the mouth, lots of numbness on the tongue, more alcohol burn gets through but it is quickly mitigated by the warmth. Overall it’s a bit more watery less smooth and flavourful as Belvedere. The aggressive nature of the spiciness inundates the palate – not a bad thing, but definitely not as complex as Belvedere. 5/10-level sharper sweetness, 8/10 flooding warmth, 6/10-level cleanliness smoothness, not-so-smooth transitions.

Final notes: tasting was done non-blind but at least I can say I was pre-sober. After about 1/2 shot each I am still confident that if presented both blind, I can discern which is which. So with that, if you don’t mind spending the extra $$$ go for Belvedere in the more delicate vodka-martini cocktails. If you’re drinking screwdrivers or vodka-7s the Sobieski will do just fine.