As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, there seems to be a new vodka coming out every day. Everything under the sun is being distilled to create bespoke ultra-premium spirits. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t vodka supposed to be a base spirit that all other flavors can hang their collective hats on? Does it really matter in the end what it’s made from and how many times it’s distilled? The answer is yes, it does indeed.
Sobieski is the number one selling premium vodka in Poland and one of the fastest growing spirit brands in the world. What are they doing right? To start off with, they use rye, which in my mind makes for one of the more complex vodka flavor profiles. As well, they don’t distill the life out of it. In fact, it comes off the column still when the master distiller feels it’s ready for one and only one perfect heart cut. Lastly, there are no gimmicky filtration systems using platinum dust or paleolithic trilobite fossils. It just is what it is, and doesn’t try to outdo the competition by boasting an impressive resume.
Sobieski‘s flagship vodka is an 80 proof spirit that has a clean, fresh and bright scent. The initial tastes bring forth elements of vanilla, marshmallow and cotton candy which gives way to black pepper (you can’t go wrong when you taste black pepper), leather, clove, mint and rainwater. Perfect as a sipping vodka, this also mixes exceptionally well in any cocktail, adding body, depth and character that is often missing from other vodkas. Sobieski sells for under $20 a bottle, making it an incredible bargain when stocking your bar. GSN Rating: A-
Sobieski has also expanded into flavored vodka territory with a variety of 70 proof vodkas for use in less complex cocktails such as highballs.
Sobieski Cytron is their lemon vodka. It has a light lemony scent, not unlike what you might detect in a kitchen after a thorough cleaning. The flavor is immediately recognizable, however, it is sweeter than what I prefer in a lemon vodka and somewhat one dimensional. The lemon flavor overpowers the terroir of the vodka. It lacks depth, but will work fine in a lemon drop cocktail or a similar simple fruitini. I’d not recommend this in a Bloody Mary, as it will sweeten the drink too much, and distract from the salty tartness of the tomato juice. GSN Rating: B-
Sobieski Orange smells of orange rind and oil rather than the cloying artificial orange you often find in low grade food products. Less sweet than their lemon vodka, this works much better, allowing the body of the vodka itself to shine through and yet support the orange flavor. There is a curiously dry quality that intrigues and leaves your mouth feeling almost chalky. I don’t think that this is to its benefit, but overall, this is a very drinkable product. GSN Rating: B
Sobieski Raspberry definitely has the nose of just picked fresh berries from the market. You can almost see them in front of you as you inhale. Unfortunately, the flavor doesn’t quite live up to the nose. Yes, it tastes like raspberry, but in an unnatural candy-like way that reminded me of taffy. Don’t get me wrong, I’d drink this, but I would have liked it to have more of an subtle infused quality, rather than the sugary flavor that it arrived at. GSN Rating: B-
Sobieski Vanilla has an odd nose that to me is off putting. If you’re thinking of the wonderful kind of vanilla smell of childhood from the bottle of extract your grandmother kept on the top shelf of her kitchen cabinet, this ain’t it. The flavor is more along the lines of the center of a Charleston Chew that has been sitting in a pool of melted butter, than true vanilla itself. I hate to say it, but this product really doesn’t belong on any liquor shelf. Perhaps, if mixed into cola it will pass for a halfway decent drink, but for my money, I’ll pass altogether. GSN Rating: C-
The most unusual offering is the Sobieski Karamel which has a subtle and authentically toffee-like nose. Not overpowering, yet instantly recognizable. I was expecting something along the lines of their vanilla vodka flavor profile, but was pleasantly surprised to find that this vodka has a naturally flavor and is exceptionally well balanced. Tasting of real caramel, this vodka is a real winner. Not only is the flavor itself unusual amongst the plethora of vodkas out there, but it stands out as a truly tasty product. There are a lot of possibilities for this vodka in any coffee, nut or cream based cocktails. Mix some into whipped cream for a fantastic topping in your next Irish Coffee. GSN Rating: A-