When my bottle of Strongs Vodka arrived, I broke my reviewing rules. I always taste vodka neat first, to check its value as a sipping vodka, before trying it in a cocktail… or on some occasions, definitely not putting it into a cocktail as it tastes so damn good on its own.
But you know something? You don’t always feel like sipping a neat vodka. Sometimes you want a long drink, at the end of a long day. So I poured a shot (OK, two) of Strongs into a glass over ice and filled it with orange juice. My favorite easy refreshing drink.
And I’m glad I did because, boy, the kick of the vodka came through, just as it should. Despite its name, Strongs is not a super-strong vodka. It’s just a regular 40% ABV. Now all vodkas that are 40% are clearly the same strength. Maybe it was the name playing games with me but I swear this had more of a kick than many vodkas I try. And I’m not complaining.
The Strongs Story
Now Strongs is a bit of a mystery. If you check their website they seem to be pushing their bottling plant more than their vodka. I know they’re located in Bardstown, Kentucky, in the very heart of bourbon country. Their near-neighbors include Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark.
It’s Kentucky water that helps make bourbon what it is, filtered naturally through limestone, and that’s the water that goes into Strong’s Vodka. The grain spirit is distilled five times, then filtered several times through charcoal, and then filtered again through the company’s own proprietary filtration system. It’s bottled in small batches and sold as a premium all-American vodka.
But does it taste good?
Trying it neat for the first time, I could certainly smell the alcohol. It wasn’t silk-smooth on the nose, but nor was it rough and chemical-smelling. Somewhere between, and not unpleasant. I was getting no hints of anything on the nose, just a pure spirit – vodka, plain and simple.
The first sip was a little harsher than I expected, a little fiery, but also with a sweet note to it. Butterscotch, maybe? The second sip was smoother, more like a quality vodka, so maybe – like red wine – it needed to breathe a little. This time I was also getting more butterscotch and perhaps a hint of coconut? Those flavors continued to come through for a few more sips.
It was certainly a vodka with a kick to it, as you might expect from its home in bourbon country, where they know a thing or two about drinks with kicks.
Visit the Strongs website.