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Over the past couple of weeks, my friend and I have been talking more and more about the business we want to set up together in the future. We both know that this would require a significant investment of both time and money (as well as sweat and tears) but it's a dream we both want to aspire to. We've been also having fun planning frivolous additions that we'd have once we were very profitable, such as a soft play area and other ridiculous things. One thing that we're very serious about, however, is a drinks' cabinet for our offices, Mad Men style. Another friend of ours responded to this idea by saying, "Ah, that'd be great - you could have a constant stock of Smirnoff in your office". My future business partner and I turned to each other, looked each other in the eye and said in unison, "No - Belvedere."
== Belvedere Vodka ==
Belvedere is certainly an upmarket vodka. While vodka is certainly one of the most popular and drunk spirits in the UK (as well as having obvious ties to Russia and Eastern Europe) and it's something that I've drank a lot of over the years, it's never been one of my alcoholic beverages of choice. Its taste is a lot harsher than its clear spirit cousin, gin, and it doesn't blend as well with mixers as others do. It's also not something I would choose to drink neat apart from if I've having a particularly bad (or a particularly good) night.
I feel all of this is because I often drink vodka when it is a cheap choice, and when I go for cheap options, I know they're not the best-made of those available. Just like with cheap wine, the taste of cheap vodka is much harsher than its more refined counterparts.
You can probably tell where I'm going with this: Belvedere is not a cheap vodka and nor does it taste like one. Instead of being strong and spiky in flavour, it is smooth and is complemented by mixtures much more so than brands such as Smirnoff and dreaded supermarket own brands. I can even drink this neat as it does have a much nicer taste that goes down much more easily and I have to say I do enjoy it, whereas I normally need a lot of mixer to mask the taste of cheaper vodka when I drink it. All of this is for the same alcohol content of any other vodka, which is around 40%. I also like that this vodka is made in Poland, which is a traditional vodka producing and consuming country.
Of course, all of this comes at a price, and Belvedere is considerably more expensive than your average bottle of vodka. According to mysupermarket.co.uk, you can get a 700ml bottle for between £30 and £35 depending on the supermarket (although £27 on offer at Ocado at time of writing). Considering that Skyy vodka retails at £14.25 for the same amount (Asda) and you can get an entire litre of Russian Standard for £17 (also Asda), this is about twice what you'd pay than for other well-respected vodka brands. This price is, however, reflective of the quality, which is no doubt due to its being distilled four times from Polish rye grain. However, I have to say I do not know what goes into the distilling process to make one spirit of better quality than another. It is also a similar price to Grey Goose and there are certainly even more expensive ones still, but obviously the price will be an important factor when choosing this vodka or another one.
== Conclusion ==
Belvedere is a lovely vodka, which is of a much better quality than most vodka that is sold and drank, but the higher price is not insignificant. I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for a smoother vodka taste, but for most people this would be a definite treat purchase unless you're doing pretty well for yourself. The day I constantly have a bottle of this in my office, I'll know that my business is doing as well as it should be.
There is a MASSIVE difference between the vodka you buy to drink with a mixer in a pub and these premium brands, one being that it would be sacriligious to drink this with anything other than just ice (and even then only if you must!)
I personally drink my favourite vodkas, one of which is Belvedere, neat with no ice. I keep the bottle in the fridge so it's nice and cool and I drink it neat from a glass.
Unlike the cheaper brands, it will not strip the roof off your mouth, or get you totally wrecked or give you a monster hangover. It has the desired effect but it's a drink to savour and enjoy and drink slowly. It does get you drunk but it tends to be a more sophisticated drinking experience than your average pub-measure vodka and coke.
The flavour develops slowly in your mouth as it warms up inside there. It has hints of vanilla and caramel and it's delicious.
Strong whiff of toffee on the nose. Sweet and cloying on the palate with strong caramelization. Some alcohol burn. Powerful finish in which toffee flavor predominates. This is an indifferently distilled vodka