In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many businesses and people have boycotted Russian exports in response to show their disapproval of the violent war ensuing. Of the more widely consumed is vodka, which has posed an interesting dilemma for some.
Vodka has been produced all around the world for as long as we can remember, each country showcasing its own influence on the liquid inside the bottle. Whether neat, as a martini, espresso martini or as part of one of the many other creative serves this spirit has become a part of, vodka is embraced on a global level. Here, drinks expert Aidy Smith has picked out a handful of some of his absolute favourites from all corners of the world for anyone looking to broaden their horizons from the usual choices we find on the shelves.
When a country has been producing vodka for 600 years, they learn a thing or two along the way. Poland has quite confidently gained its reputation for producing some of the best within this spirit category and at the centre of that with its worldwide claim fame is Belvedere. Dating back to 1910, the company has one of the oldest operating Polish distilleries in existence and the liquid speaks for itself. Incredibly soft and smooth with a rich and velvety mouthfeel, a sip offers light vanilla, freshly cracked pepper and a creamy hazelnut finish.
Produced from a single estate that has been cultivating wheat since the 1400’s, Absolut Elyx is the luxury flagship of this world-famous vodka family. If the picturesque surroundings of Southern Sweden are anything to go by, you can see why this vodka is so embraced and has such a distinct and flavour-inducing terroir. Distilled by way of vintage copper columns dating back to 1921, the profile is undeniably rich and vibrant. White chocolate and macadamia nuts jump out with a spicy nuttiness gliding into the finish.
Crystal Head is one of the most iconic bottles in terms of visual aesthetics, but I’m pleased to say the liquid inside lives up expectations as well. This time we’re in Canada, surrounded by bountiful fields of corn. Said local corn is distilled four times before being filtered on whopping seven occasions. When you realize that three of those filtrations are done through Herkimer diamonds, you begin to understand just how sumptuous this vodka really is. Finally, the Newfoundland water that is utilised in the distillation process adds its own unique flavour, the result of which offers silky and creamy white pepper taste, alongside a vanilla citrus and peach.
Enter Japan. You’ve heard of vodka being created from grain and potatoes before, but what about rice? Haku create theirs from the same high-quality rice that would make luxury sake, offering a truly unique tasting experience. Beginning its journey in Kagoshima and ending in Osaka, this vodka witnesses three separate distillations and a bamboo charcoal filtering process to get its rich and elegant texture. Smooth, sweet, and silky with a little citrus and coconut twist.
To this day there is still a lot of debate surrounding where vodka was originally invented, with some believing it may very well have been the land upon which Ukraine sits. Their distinct climate and terroir including the rich and dense black soils make it a fabulous contender and Dima’s Ukrainian vodka is definitely giving the world a run for its money when it comes to this globally adored spirit.
Sourcing three types of local grain; barley, wheat and rye, this crystal-clear liquid has a distinctive sumptuousness about it. Velvety smooth with hints of malt, pear, caramel and a kiss of vanilla. What’s even more striking is their ideal pairing – a big fat juicy pickle!
Farm to cocktail is their mantra and this award-winning American vodka hails from the lands of Kansas. Each year they partner with nearby farmers to source some of the finest wheat in the country. It’s all about local – and you can taste it. Their signature wheat and distillation process offers a soothing creaminess with a kiss of citrus.