Russian Standard (RUS) VS. 42 Below (NZ) – Wheat Vodka Round 1

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This will be a battle of wheat vodkas. Actually Russian Standard is a winter wheat vodka but close enough.

1) Russian Standard – 40% ABV – 750m, Russia, ~$27 CAD

  • their lowest tier vodka; the others being gold, platinum, imperia (in order of grade)
  • continuous column distillation, winter wheat

VS

2) 42 Below – 42% ABV – 750ml (*note: This is an old bottle. New ones are now 40% ABV, lowered due to tax reasons and to be more competitive), New Zealand, ~$35 CAD

  • distilled from wheat
  • now owned by Bacardi, but still operates out of NZ

Criteria:

Nose: First up, the Russian Standard. It has quite a pronounced roundness, composed alcohol, lime, and a kind of rubber/plastic, and minor tingliness in the nose. For the 42 Below the nose is amazingly clean and muted, without much alcohol detection nor tingliness. There is a faint lemony scent and tingliness if you get your nose right in there. Vodka supposedly being a “neutral” spirit, the winner goes to 42 Below for it’s neutrality.

Taste: The Russian Standard brings a soft supple 3/10-sweetness with a hint of citrus, slightly thicker than water viscosity (between a syrup and water), medium alcohol burn in the mids, followed by aniseed and pepperiness. Alcohol hits the nose with medium nasal burn. The 42 Below on the other hand, drinks with a bold 5/10-citrus sweetness, not as thick as Russian Standard viscosity but still thicker than water, more intense aniseed in the mids, a noticeably softer light-med burn, longer length, and a softer, gentler nasal burn. For me, the winner the has to be 42 Below for it’s more pronounced flavours with less alcohol burn.

Final Notes:

  • Russian Standard has a thicker viscosity, less aniseed, more burn, and a lower price. Good as a mixer/infusions.
  • 42 Below is smoother (less burn), with bolder flavours of citrus and aniseed. Better as a mixer to get people drunk.

As with any drink, taste is a matter of preference, how much $$ $ u wanna spend, and national pride. Personally I prefer 42 Below because it is smoother to me. Also it has won more than a dozen of awards in international competitions.

 

Van Gogh Blue (Holland)

Van Gogh Blue, 750ml 40% ABV, Holland

Introducing Van Gogh’s premium triple distilled, triple European wheat vodka. It includes a combination of wheat from the middle of France, southern Germany, and Dutch wheat from Zeeland. First sold in 2008.

  • Notes From Tim Vos, Master Distiller

    “The exceptional triple wheat Van Gogh Blue offers subtle flavors of grains from three countries, each bringing their own unique characteristics to the spirit. In Holland, the wheat is cultivated near the Dutch coast and is therefore a bit salty and dry from the maritime influence. The harvest in France comes from the center of the country and possesses a sweeter profile. While in Germany, the wheat is grown in an area where the water comes from the melted ice of a nearby mountain, providing the grain with a mineral taste. The aftertaste delivers a delicate and consistent essence of wheat grains and some minerality for a dry and polished finish.”

Other notes:

  • pretty image-in-bottle effect
  • screw-cap sealed (as opposed to Grey Goose synthetic cork)
  • Where I got it: Sherbrooke
  • How much: <$40 (after 10%), ~$2 per shot
  • Drinkability: Easy-Medium

Tasting Notes (Oct 27/2011)

If not for the master distiller’s notes above, I really wouldn’t know what to look for. So, in comparing it to the French wheat Grey Goose, the sweetness is definitely present. There is a salty edge at the start that rounds out the flavour and slides down the sides the of tongue. The mineral notes add complexity on the top of the tongue and finishes slightly salty. The ethyl burn is rather mild and travels upstream through the nasal cavity and quickly vanishes.

-Compared to Grey Goose: not as sweet, more complex, slightly more burn, less warmth down the throat.

Rating as an (interesting) liquor: B

Rating as a vodka: A

The bottleimage-in-bottle effectnotes from the master distiller