Product Type: Zubrowka Vodka
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Notes of Bison
Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
Member Name: Puggers
Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
Advantages: Curious taste, lovely mixed with apple juice.
Disadvantages: Not enormously pleasant straight.
Poles like their vodka - this I learnt from my two years living in the country - and there's no lack of supply to meet the demand. I've been fortunate enough (or unfortunate, in some cases) to sample a fair variety of the brands on offer, but this is the only one I make sure I keep in stock at home.
Manufactured in and around Bialystok in the north-east of Poland, Zubrowka (zhu-broof-ka) is a little different to most other vodkas. Flavoured with the grass favoured by the bison (Zubr) that live in this area, it's usually drunk with a mixer; almost always apple juice. The mixed drink is often referred to as a "szarlotka", or apple pie - and the flavour really does evoke this. Drunk neat, there's nothing too special about the vodka - it has a slightly sweeter taste than other, unflavoured varieties, although it's not the most pleasant of flavours. To get the best out of the drink, it really needs apple juice; there are so many other vodkas available if you want it neat. Pan Tadeusz is a favourite of mine, incidentally.
I was once told that each stalk of grass (there is one in every bottle) has been urinated on by the roaming Bison, giving the drink its peculiar flavour. I don't suppose this is true, sadly.
The product's fairly widely available in the UK; some supermarkets stock the vodka, and it's easily found in Polish shops - albeit much more expensively than in Poland, so it's worth stocking up if on holiday. A litre bottle costs around £9-10 there, in the region of £15-18 here. A number of bars sell the mixed drink as a "Frisky Bison".
All in all, it's an interesting drink that goes down easily - perhaps a little too much so. Poland knows its vodka, and for me, this is one of the best varieties.
Summary: A taste of Poland. And Bison.
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