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By Dave Withers, Master DistillerISSUE #028 DAWN OF A NEW DAY | Education

Isn’t Vodka Tasteless? Why an Australian Vodka has more to offer than you think

Over the years vodka has been increasingly relegated to the back of the liquor shelf. Increasingly less loved, this once enormously popular spirit has been left behind in the excitement of the recent craft spirits and cocktails scene revival. The rise in popularity of gin has overshadowed vodka, leaving drinkers with fewer exciting new options to choose from. Somewhat diminished by years of focusing on the purity and apparent tastelessness of vodka, this spirit is being left behind. In a world where character and personality matter more than ever, is there hope for vodka?

In my opinion, vodka has many redeeming features. A well-crafted vodka is a thing of beauty where subtle flavours steal the show and clarity of character is key. The best vodkas don’t just taste like alcohol. Rather they are soft, supple and refined. They give the drinker cues as to how they were made; the grain, potato or fruit used to craft them. They offer the producer nowhere to hide, demanding the most precise attention to detail. The spirit must be blemish-free with impeccable purity.

It is this style of vodka that we aimed for when creating our Original Vodka. A delicate vodka where the creamy soft winter wheat used as the base was accentuated by tiny additions of botanical distillates. Here we took the notion of ‘micro dosing’ the vodka with distillates of fruits and native botanicals to improve the mouthfeel, length and cleanliness of the spirit. Why on earth would we do that? It is not commonly known but most of the big brands of vodka also add small additions to their vodka. These additions are commonly of a chemical nature and include food-grade glycerol, xylitol and minerals. When creating the recipe for our Original Vodka in 2014, we were determined to use only natural ingredients to create a fantastically soft and approachable vodka. We wanted our base ingredient, being wheat, to stand tall but be nurtured by our botanical distillate additions.

To me, one of the most exciting things about the vodka category is that it offers a blank canvas. Vodka is unconstrained in terms of what flavours can be added to it. In many ways, the spirit invites more creativity and freedom than gin, which must have a predominantly juniper-led flavour. Vodka is unconstrained, the flavour of the product can be taken in any direction. This blessing can also be a curse as evidenced by the swathe of increasingly gauche flavours being released. The long parade of vodkas flavoured to simulate peanut butter, cake or salted caramel seemed to spiral into a never-ending cycle of spirits laced with exotic laboratory flavourings. Vodka clearly needed a wake-up call and the call came in the spirit of gin whereby a natural base is joined by ingredients that are authentic and real.

The question that we asked ourselves in 2014 is the same question that we have asked ourselves every day since the launch of Original Vodka; why use additives when the flavours of nature are so fantastic? This question is so poignant and important that three years ago it finally convinced us to look at adding another vodka to our range. A vodka that is not near-neutral but one that celebrates the ingredient. A vodka that champions flavour and its natural origins.

The goal of this vodka was clear. We wanted to make a vodka that would make the ultimate vodka soda. Just imagine how fantastic this drink could be with the addition of native and Australian grown fruits and botanicals.

After a few years of research and development, we landed on some truly fantastic ingredients and Native Botanical Vodka was born. When combined, the flavours featured in our new spirit marry together seamlessly like long-lost friends to create a compelling and complex offering. By bringing together native sunrise lime, native lemon-scented gum, Australian grown peach and Roman chamomile we achieved a delicate balance. There is citrus, honey, tropical fruit, garden herbs and fresh flowers. Together they make a vodka with a bright and vibrant positivity that inspires thoughts of sunny days with friends in the sun. Textured, layered and complex this vodka is more than the flavoured vodkas of yesteryear.

Vodka is often looked over as being bland. We see vodka as being capable of charm and personality. Native Botanical Vodka is sophisticated and refined but not shy on charisma. This vodka is a statement of taste and character.

Native Botanical Vodka Is Available Now