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My brother in law, knowing my penchant for sampling 'different' spirits, very kindly brought me a set of miniature bottles of Van Gogh vodkas back from Holland after a working trip. This wasn't a brand I'd heard of previously and from the very first sip of the first miniature I realised the Van Gogh range was superb, and it'll certainly be a range I buy from again.
Of the six miniatures I received, however, this Acai Blueberry was actually my least favourite - something which surprised me as I generally adore anything that either smells or tastes of blueberries. My bottle held enough for four standard measures of vodka and once I realised I didn't like it neat I set about combining it with different mixers in an attempt to find a way of enjoying this vivid purple coloured vodka, unfortunately nothing seems to mix well with it and I ended up extremely disappointed as on paper this looked like the perfect flavour for me.
The problem is that this vodka tastes like cough medicine, and not one of the nice cough mixtures either! It's got to be the blend of acai and blueberry as beneath these flavours the vodka is actually extremely smooth with a good hint of warmth but no harshness whatsoever, it's only when you factor in the berry flavours that this awful cough mixture taste really makes itself apparent. Oh, it's there all the time of course but this vodka is so well blended that it's possible to separate the two flavours - and this is how I've sussed out that blueberry and vodka really don't 'go' very well. When I drank it neat I had it over ice and was initially impressed by the rich and natural flavour of the acai and blueberry, Van Gogh have got the taste just right with a sweetness that screams 'natural fruit' but an underlying tart flavour which also helps to aid the taste sensation of this being real fruit as opposed to a vodka additive.
I tried mixing it with fruit juices, something about the overall drinking experience of this vodka told me that it would not mix well with fizzy drinks so my usual tonic water or coke were definite no-nos. I tried grape juice, apple juice and a mildly flavoured orange juice - the only one I had a modicum of success with being the apple, which softened the cough mixture taste without hiding the blueberry flavour and turning the drink into something completely different. I still wasn't keen however and thought the apple juice gave the vodka a pretty sickly feeling as I swallowed and made for a 'can't wait to finish the glass and have something else', the grape juice made the taste of cough mixture even more apparent but also brings out a reasonably natural raspberry flavour which hits the back of your tongue and is gone as soon as it appears. This is a shame really as during the very short period of 'raspberry' the highly medicinal flavour of this vodka softens greatly, unfortunately it's back with a vengeance as soon as this disappears and again I'm left with the sensation of trying to soothe an irritating cough!
I do love the Van Gogh range and feel incredibly mean writing this rather negative review. I honestly don't think this is a personal taste issue as it's not that I don't like the flavouring, more that it's so reminiscent of medicine that I'm sure everyone who drinks it will think so. The issue I suppose is that cough mixture usually includes alcohol as an ingredient, and is often 'flavoured' (in the loosest sense of the word) with berry and soft fruit flavours - and when you think of it like this it's not so surprising that the Acai Blueberry vodka should taste so similar. Despite my criticism this remains an extremely high quality vodka which I'm sure would be highly enjoyable to people who like this strange flavour, or the people who have sadly become addicted to cough medicine. The smoothness of the vodka makes it easy to drink and despite having a typical vodka 'kick' it slips down the gullet nicely providing me with a wonderful warmth that glides down to my belly after swallowing.
The bottle is worth a mention as it's absolutely gorgeous. My miniature is an exact replica of the full size 70cl bottle and features an exquisite (and very Van Gogh-esque) flamingo atop a frosted glass bottle which showcases the beautiful purple vodka inside stunningly. It's the sort of bottle you'd want to display with others if you're a collector of unusual spirits bottles, mine went to a neighbour who has a humongous display of various wine bottles which she displays using various interesting miniature bottles as a border - the effect is quite brilliant and I was happy to contribute to it rather than throw this cute and funky little bottle in the bin.
If you fancy trying Van Gogh Acai Blueberry vodka it can be hard to track down in the UK so you might find yourself ordering online, where you can expect to pay just under £30 for a 70cl bottle. This sounds expensive (especially after I've told you I don't like it!) but the vodka really is of fabulous quality so warrants this inflated price tag in my opinion; as always with flavoured spirits I'd advise you take it steady, it's easy to forget you're drinking neat vodka sometimes with the Van Gogh range and at 37.5% ABV this drink packs a huge punch if you overdo things!
Introduced in early 2007, the artfully crafted Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka is an exquisite violet-hued spirit that combines the essence of exotic acai berry with delectable blueberry. Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka is hand-crafted in small batches through a double infusion method, using only natural ingredients and premium grain alcohol, insuring that Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka actually tastes and smells exactly as the name suggests: like a blend of fresh acai berries and blueberries. Notes From Tim Vos, Master Distiller 'Acai-Blueberry has become a classic combination. The acai is a complex tropical berry, containing tannin and interesting flavour nuances such as clove, nuts and chocolate.The aroma features blueberry and some nuts from the acai. The taste has structure because of the tannin in the acai, but it is tempered by the blueberry, raspberry and a little almond.'