Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flyer Cocktail Hour: Staff Samples New-to-Memphis Vodkas

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Two new vodka brands — LEAF Vodka and Khortytsa — are area available in Memphis by way of Athens Distributing.

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A representative for the companies shipped the Flyer staff some samples to review, so on Friday afternoon, we had a little office cocktail hour. What can we say? Journalism is hard work, but somebody has to do it.

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I tried the LEAF Vodka mixed with locally made (and incredibly spicy) Nikki's Hot Ass Bloody Mary Mix. LEAF is made with Rocky Mountain mineral water, which the company claims lends the vodka "a warm and savory impression." I've no idea what a warm and savory impression tastes like, but I can attest that this vodka is incredibly smooth. LEAF might be best enjoyed in a vodka martini, where nothing could come between its flavor and your mouth.

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The Nikki's mix is great, but it's spiciness does tend to mask delicate flavors, meaning Nikki's is ideal for mixing with just about any vodka — high- or low-end. LEAF Vodka retails for about $19 for a 750mL bottle, a decent price for a vodka this good. Bonus: It's certified USDA organic.

Flyer reporter Chris Davis also had a bloody mary, and he said the LEAF Vodka "made my bloody merry." Reporter Toby Sells, who had his LEAF mixed with Simply Lemonade, said "I could hardly taste it, which means it was good vodka."

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Next up was the Khortytsa vodka, an import from the Ukraine. They sent us their Platinum Vodka and their Honey Hot Pepper Vodka. Apparently, Khortytsa is the third biggest seller of vodka in the world, but they're just starting to enter the U.S. market. The Khortytsa (pronounced Hor-Ti-Tsa) Distillery was named among the world’s best distilleries at the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition. From the press release: "It uses a local organic filter containing schungite (a unique natural mineral) which allows it to get as close as possible to the structure of natural water. The filtration process is further enhanced with special birch and alder-tree charcoal and quartz sand sourced near the famous Crystal Mountains of the Urals near Yekaterinburg, Russia."

But how does it taste? I sampled the Platinum straight up, and it was smooth sailing. I could seriously just drink this stuff on the rocks (with a little water mixed in, of course). 

I didn't try the Honey Hot Pepper because, as a vegan, I don't consume products that contain honey. And while we weren't entirely sure if the honey was just an added flavor or actually in the product, I didn't take a chance. However, a few other staffers tried it, and there were mixed reviews.

Managing editor Susan Ellis tried it straight-up, and she said, while the vodka was smooth, she couldn't taste a pepper flavor or a honey flavor. IMB editor Richard Alley had his mixed with Nikki's Hot Ass mix, and he said he couldn't taste anything besides the mix, which he said was too hot for him. Flyer graphic designer Brian Rollins said the Honey Hot Pepper Vodka smelled like a hospital, and I took whiff and agreed. It had a sterile aroma, like something you might use to clean off medical equipment. I didn't notice that smell in the Platinum Khortytsa.

The LEAF Vodka was definitely the staff favorite, but I'd say the Platinum Khortytsa was smoothest vodka of the bunch.

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