Approximate Retail Value: $17/bottle
Country of Origin: Russia
Reviewer: R. Pietsch
The F Words:
Flavor – Warm and peppery, but clean
Feel – A light viscosity with an old world bite
Finish – A little slow and hangs onto the back of the throat
By: R. Pietsch
Don would come in every day at 5 p.m. No sooner than I had unlocked the door to the bar, he would pull into the parking lot. Before the shifter was in park, I had a shaker filled with ice and was pouring straight Stoli into a glass. Why am I telling you about Don and his vodka of choice? Because I believe that a manís drink is a direct reflection of his character and vice versa. With that in mind, what does this say: Don was an ex-Marine. He managed one of the top hotels in an international chain. He continuously smoked cowboy killers (Marlboro Reds). And, Don only drank Stolichnaya.
Well, letís give Stoli the same kind of once over. It smells like alcohol. It feels warm, no matter how cold it is. On the rocks or with a spritz of water, it always tastes like vodka. Itís a little rough around the edges, but it is what it is. nd regardless of whether you like it or not, you have to respect it for that.
Don didnít come in every day, but he always wanted the same thing: Stoli Martini, dry as dirt and too cold to handle. If it wasnít foggy with ice chips floating on top, he would send it back [note: he never had to send it back]. This was not a drink I would ever make the mistake of serving under-chilled or under-poured. My regulars became my life, part of my family, and Don was one of my favorites.
Did this, the purest of relationships, lead to a bias in my opinion of Stoli? No. But, it has helped me appreciate it nonetheless. I donít care what awards you list or what medals you put on the label, every vodka will be judged on taste and taste alone. Stoli is not a perfect vodka. It isnít clean by any means. It has a lingering heat and is too abrasive for my taste. But, itís vodka.
Maybe after 20 years in the military, youíre numb to most of your senses and need a drink with a bite. Maybe smoking two packs a day kills your taste buds to the point where you canít taste a lack of balance or any impurities that arenít caught in the filtration process.
So, hereís Stoli. Itís vodka like Mother Russia makes it. It isnít fancy. It isnít pristine. It has its imperfections and these should be seen as character traits, not flaws. No one ever regards Stoli as the smoothest available, but it is heralded as one of the most traditional vodkas on the market. It is a drink for the man who drinks in the tradition of man.
Email this review to a friend