The official US Government definition of vodka is ‘neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.’
It’s an interesting definition, as does it mean that flavored vodkas shouldn’t really call themselves vodka? Another requirement is that the vodkas be bottled at not less than 80 proof, or 40%ABV. Many flavored vodkas and some ‘lite’ vodkas are less than 40% proof, so again technically they are not vodka.
I mention this because Score Vodka is an interesting case in point, as I discovered when I tasted it. I’d been curious to try it as it was going to be the first Ukrainian vodka I’d ever tasted. As a former member of the USSR, standing between Russia and Poland, Ukraine is right there in the middle of the Vodka Belt.
Score is made from winter wheat grown in Ukraine in a soil unique to the country, called chernozem. The water is artesian spring water which is filtered through limestone (as Kentucky bourbon water is) and then filtered again at the distillery. It uses continuous distillation through seven separate distillation systems.
The first thing to notice is the simple but attractive bottle, as you can see from the photos, and the unusual red easy-pour cap. Personally I never have any trouble pouring vodkas! The red plastic top is easy to grip and as you twist it in the ‘open’ direction, the top pops up and a tiny pourer appears. The pour is slower than normal, but quick enough even for an impatient imbiber like me. But what it apparently does is let less air into the bottle so the vodka lasts longer. I think this is a fantastic invention as my vodka never seems to last long enough.
The label describes the vodka confidently as being of ‘Gourmet Quality’. Really? That’s a bold claim for a new kid on the vodka block. We’ll see about that.
Giving it a sniff, the smell was entirely neutral. Even with these so-called tasteless and odorless vodkas, your nose will usually pick up something… citrus, grain, frequently liquorice. But with Score – nothing. It was as close to being neutral as it’s possible to get.
What would the flavor profile be, though? We tasted it from the freezer, and we then let it warm up to room temperature. Again the result was remarkable. Absolutely nothing. The taste was smooth, pure, neutral, and decidedly alcoholic. There was a long, warm finish to it. Almost all vodkas are 40% ABV, but some just taste boozier than others. Score was one of those. For that reason it will be a winner, not just for sipping but also in cocktails. It gives them a punch while leaving the taste of the other ingredients to shine through.
I really liked Score for being as close to the US definition of vodka as you can get. What is remarkable is the price. The 750ml bottle that I sampled is planned to retail at about $15.99-17.99. That’s a very affordable price for a vodka of this quality.
Score comes in three sizes: 375ml, 750ml and 1.75ml. The largest size is still made of glass, not plastic as many large bottles are. It has two grooves cut in the back to make gripping easier. The smallest of the sizes is the only one to lack the easy-pour cap and have a conventional aluminium screw-top.
To find out more visit www.scorevodka.com.