Those of you that follow me regularly know that I like a good cocktail from time to time (read often) and that my preferred spirit to imbibe with is hands-down vodka. My local liquor store carries a very nice selection of vodkas (thanks to my proximity of living close the Russian Consulate). New brands seem to pop-up on each visit and on a recent visit a blue-tinged bottle with a potato on it caught my attention. Actually, my other-half had seen it on a previous visit but did not buy it because, well, I am a bit (read very) picky when it comes to my vodka. SPUD is a Polish potato vodka and all of their flavors are gluten-free (remember not all flavored spirits are because added flavors can sometimes contain gluten to what would otherwise be rendered gluten-free from the distillation process).
So, when I spied it myself, I decided to give SPUD a go. I have to say that I was most pleasantly surprised. It was not what I was expecting. It was perfectly smooth (filtered five times) but had very interesting subtle flavor notes that you would not normally associate with a plain vodka. It almost reminded me of a fine Gin because it was wonderfully aromatic but the subtle notes did not take away from the vodka itself. I want to be clear – this was the plain variety (we’ll get to the flavors shortly) and it was indeed plain and not flavored but the natural herbal flavor notes were truly amazing. This is definitely complex vodka making it a real standout.
I was so giddy after trying SPUD that I tweeted about it and soon thereafter received an e-mail from the company – have to love that – asking if I would like to try some of their signature flavors. Um, hello, twist my arm. The kind folks at SPUD sent me a bottle of their Pumpkin Spice seasonal variety and their Ginger Lemongrass flavor. Now in full disclosure I tend to side more on the vodka purist-side of the spectrum but do enjoy a flavored vodka from time to time. The problem I usually have with flavored vodkas is that they are sometimes a bit overpowering and distract from the vodka itself. Not the case with SPUD.
First up is their Pumpkin Spice Sweet Potato variety. This was truly a remarkable flavor and is best described as fall in a bottle. The spicy aroma is just a preview of the flavor punch that this one packs. At first taste you notice a slight sweetness that evolves into a subtle spicy, almost nutmeg or clove-like flavor, as it floats across your palate. You can actually detect the sweet potato undertones which really make this flavor truly delicious.
Next up was the Ginger Lemongrass. I am always a bit leery when it comes to things with ginger because I find that more often than not the ginger overpowers and that is all you are left tasting. SPUD’s take on this allowed for the lemongrass flavor to shine but you’ll also notice slight undertones of citrus and floral notes that are rounded-out (not overpowered) by subtle spicy ginger notes.
I enjoyed both flavors with a simple splash of seltzer and it was instant cocktail-time. The same goes for their plain variety but it actually pairs amazingly well with a splash of grapefruit Perrier. If you prefer a bit more advanced cocktail be sure to check out the cool SPUD Recipes (with the likes of the Spuddy Mary, Spudtini, Pumpkin Cider Highball, and the Headless Horseman) or if you need a bit of a how-to check out their Mixology videos.
SPUD’s flavors are not what you would typically expect from a flavored vodka. The taste is all about the vodka and the flavors do not distract from that – they merely enhance. In addition to the plain and flavors I reviewed you can also indulge in: Heirloom Tomato and Red Hot Chili Pepper. Next time you are in your local liquor store look for the whimsical potato that fronts all of the SPUD vodkas and if they do not carry it – ask them to. You will not be disappointed.