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I first tasted banana vodka in New York a few years ago; it was absolutely delicious and I resented the fact that I was pregnant as I could only have one glass (ok, I had three - that's still good compared to how many I could have drunk in my non-pregnant state). I briefly looked to see if I could find anything similar when we got back to the UK, but after coming up empty handed I forgot all about it - until my lovely brother in law brought me a set of flavoured vodka's from the Dutch Van Gogh company, including this gorgeously bottled Banana vodka.
The bottle really is beautiful; a tall frosted glass bottle featuring a brightly coloured bunch of bananas, it looks vibrant and exotic - the perfect packaging for the drink in my opinion.
As soon as I opened the lid of the bottle I knew I was in for a treat as a rich banana fragrance swept over me; this vodka has an extremely robust aroma which really made my mouth water, if you get your nose close enough the the opening of the bottle you can smell the acidic tang of vodka but this seems positively weak in comparison to the delicious smell of fresh banana.
I drank my banana vodka neat over ice as I didn't want anything to get in the way of the flavour, I seem to recall it was served with tonic water in the states but in retrospect it could have been lemonade so don't take my word for it! The flavour is, quite simply, phenomenal. The banana bursts out from the very first sip and lends the vodka a rich and creamy sensation, it seems really strange to even consider calling a vodka 'creamy' but that's the best way to describe it and it's all down to the rich banana. Van Gogh boast that the flavour is from ripe Venezuelan bananas and although I'm no expert on bananas I can detect that the flavour is indeed one of fresh and ripe fruits, it's incredibly rich and flavoursome - definitely not for anyone who doesn't like banana, but if (like me) you do like this very identifiable taste then you'll adore this vodka.
The vodka itself is amazingly smooth, this is easily one of the best and nicest quality vodkas I've ever drunk. It has a delicious alcoholic 'kick' that warms me in this nasty cold weather we've been experiencing, this is one of those spirits that you can literally track as it goes down and when it hits my stomach I get a wonderful burst of warmth which normally I only really notice when drinking whiskey or other dark spirits. The banana flavour doesn't completely overwhelm the vodka (although it has a bloody good try!) but is kind of infused within the spirit so that the two very distinct flavours work beautifully together; there's a sweetness to the drink which comes from the banana, but it's not a sugary sweetness and wouldn't put anyone off who doesn't particularly like sweet drinks. One thing I'm highly impressed with is the fact that the banana flavour lasts for ages after I've finished my drink, it lingers in my mouth and doesn't ever become stale or irritating (as happens with many flavoured spirits in my experience). Despite the creaminess I mentioned earlier I find the banana to be crisp and refreshing, this is definitely a vodka I plan to buy again next year as I think it would make a fabulous summer drink due not only to this refreshing quality but also because it has a taste of the exotic which I really appreciate.
Now, if you decide you want to try this banana vodka I must give you a word of warning. This drink is exceedingly moreish and so flavoursome that it's easy to forget you're drinking a spirit with an ABV of 37.5% - luckily my mini bottle only had four measures of vodka in it, but I drank those back so quickly that I was surprisingly tipsy by the end of the bottle, and if I had had my hands on a full size bottle I'm sure I'd have been at risk of alcoholic poisoning by the time I'd had enough of the flavour and drinking experience! The Van Gogh range isn't readily available in the UK, but if you decide you'd like to try it there are various online stores where you can buy a 70cl bottle for around £28. This is pricey in comparison to Smirnoff or Absolut, but I think it's worth every penny due to the sheer tastiness and the fact that this is such an unusual vodka. Everyone should try it at least once!
Introduced in mid-2006, the artfully crafted Van Gogh Banana Vodka features the tropical taste and aroma of ripe Venezuelan bananas with a rich, creamy sweetness. Van Gogh Banana Vodka is hand-crafted in small batches through a unique double infusion method, using only natural ingredients and premium grain alcohol, insuring that Van Gogh Banana Vodka actually tastes and smells exactly as the name suggests: like fresh tropical bananas. Notes From Tim Vos, Master Distiller 'Van Gogh Banana Vodka's flavor comes from Venezuela. The aroma is unmistakable-rich and concentrated. Like the nose, the taste is pure banana-lush and creamy with a hit of tart acidity to temper the sweetness of the fruit. The finish is long and lingers in the mouth.'