Stolichnaya Sunday’s – Blue Label (50%ABV/100 Proof)

In the second of our Stolichnaya Sundays, we will look at the export variety, their Blue Label. This is essentially the same as the Red Label, but is bottled at 50% ABV. It is interesting that Stolichnaya, like Smirnoff*, bottles their export strength in packaging with a blue label.

On its own
Nose: Clean and neutral, with a tiny hint of grain.
Taste: Initially, very smooth (especially for 50% ABV); the strength only really appears once you have swallowed it. Overall, this is a very clean and neutral vodka; it’s quite easy to drink with some character coming from the grain and bready notes.

From the freezer
Nose: Clean, grainy nose.
Taste: This has a rich, thick texture, like syrup; it’s very viscous. Full of flavour and, again, it’s very smooth for a spirit at 50% ABV. There’s a robust warmth, but no real burn. Potent, but excellent.

Vodka Martini
Unusually for Stolichnaya, this drink has quite a neutral flavour. It’s clean and strong, but, beyond that, it’s rather silent in character; given its strength, it’s rather easy-to-drink. I think this could be well-suited to a pre-dinner drink.

Vodka Tonic
This makes a clean Vodka Tonic with a hint of vanilla and anise. Strong, but relatively silent; no fuss and easy to drink. Tasty and satisfying.

Probably my favourite use for Stolichnaya Blue is in a Vesper as the strength is closer to the strength of alcohol in the 1950s and whilst providing a more potent drink, the cocktail is just as smooth as ever. A very good choice.

Stolichnaya Blue is a clean vodka that adds more power to the drink, almost as if it gives the cocktail a backbone for the other ingredients to sit on. My favourite vodka for Vespers.

* Smirnoff Export Strength does differ depending on where you buy it: some locations have it at a measly 45% ABV, whilst others at the full 50% ABV.

Stolichnaya Sunday’s – Red Label

Following the success of Seva’s Seagrams’s Sunday, a series of articles focusing on the gin products of Seagram’s that I published on Sundays, I bring you a new series, this time looking at vodka.

Not just any vodka, however, but Stolichnaya Vodka, a brand that has long been a favourite of mine. As such, it’s well overdue that I to write some more focused pieces for SummerFruitCup.*

Stolichnaya Vodka originates from Moscow and was founded in early 40′s, although a trademark for the name was granted in 1938. By the 50′s, Stolichnaya became known as a vodka of quality, winning various accolades, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it became widely available in the US, thanks to a reciprocity distribution agreement with Pepsi.

Stolichnaya Red is the “standard” Stolichnaya, which is bottled at 40% ABV. It’s a good all-round vodka that’s excellent for sipping and cocktails alike.

On its own
Nose:
Taste: Clean, with some cereal grain flavours. Quite bready with a hint of sweet creaminess at the end. Not spectacular, but sound and very good considering the price.

Frozen
Nose: Grain, with a light, creamy vanilla note.
Taste: Relatively smooth with a tingle at the end; very clean, with faint hints of grain and bread, followed by a touch of bitterness. Overall, very good.

Vodka Martini
Very crisp, quite clean, with smooth hints of vanilla, cocoa and coffee. Very cool. A good standard, although not exceptional.

Vodka Tonic
Very fresh and very easy to drink. Some of the vodka’s flavours come through, as does its smooth texture.

Stolichnaya Red Label is available form grocery stories for around £14 for 70cl.


*I have written about the brand for other publications, including this article on the James Bond Martini.