Vodka can be good or it can be cheap, but seldom both. I’m quite happy with cheap vodka from the grocery store for everyday cocktails, but if I’m going to sip something neat then it has to be quality vodka. I’ve tried those vodka equivalents of the two-buck-chuck and they may be OK drowned in OJ but they’re never going to win any awards. But then I met Exclusiv.
Exclusiv Vodka… or, to spell it correctly, Exclusiv Vodca, comes in at about $10 a bottle, if you’re lucky enough to be within its selling area, which is mostly on the east coast. You can check that out on the Where to Buy page of the Exclusiv Vodka website.
I’d read that it had won several awards, and in 2011 was voted Best Value Vodka Under $10 by the Beverage Tasting Institute. I was still skeptical, though. Could it really stand comparison with some of the name vodkas, retailing at twice the price and more?
Well, it’s a nice bottle and label, not one of those humungous 1.5-litre plastic jerry-cans. I stuck it in the freezer and left it a few days. When I took it out and my wife and I sniffed it, I was still uncertain. So was she. It did have that slightly chemical smell that bargain-basement vodkas have. How could this be any different from the run-of-the-mill cheapo stuff?
Then we sipped it. Boy, what a surprise, and a very pleasant surprise. It was smooth as silk. I thought it had a very slight and really pleasant lemony tang to it. My wife (who has a much better nose than me) sniffed out some vanilla, and we both agreed it was not only slightly sweet, it was eminently drinkable. In fact she wanted another glass, which is a definite thumbs-up. Normally one glass of vodka is enough for her (well, they do say that opposites attract.)
Vodka from Moldova
There was also a hint of grain in the taste, which is because Exclusiv is made from wheat in Moldova, a small country just slightly bigger than Maryland. It sits between Ukraine and Romania, not too far from the Black Sea. Moldova is one of the Republics which split off from the USSR in 1991, so its history as an independent nation is still fairly new but it’s a part of the world with a strong vodka tradition. It’s also a fertile agricultural nation, with some top-quality winter wheat, the kind used for Exclusiv.
As well as that Best Value Vodka prize, when it was also given a 91-point rating, Exclusiv has been busy winning other accolades. It got a Double Gold Medal in the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and has won awards around the world.
Exclusiv Cocktail Recipes
There are several cocktail recipes on the website, including this one for a Cosmopolitan, which I definitely like the sound of.
I was very impressed by Exclusiv, and just wished we could buy it here in Arizona. It’s got that rare combination of affordability and quality. It’s definitely one for keeping in the freezer and sipping neat or maybe on the rocks. It works well in cocktails but we’re saving ours to savor for its own sake.
You can find out more about Exclusiv on their website: http://www.exclusiv-vodka.com