Published on August 14th, 2012 | by Greg0
Whiskey and Vodka: Jefferson’s Reserve and Purity
Another week, another Monday. Which is always a good night to have a couple of drinks, to prepare for the days ahead or simply to shake off the first day of the work week. Pick your drink- whiskey or vodka- and we'll have you covered with this pair of spirits. We'll start with a very different kind of Swedish vodka and move on to true Kentucky small batch bourbon.
Purity Vodka bills itself as the "world's most-award winning ultra-premium vodka". Distilled a pretty ridiculous 34 times, apparently it reduces the final volume of liquid by 90% from the original, and they use the traditional copper still method for distillation rather than the more standard column still. This allows for some of the character of the grain (wheat/barley) to shine through still, and means that it isn't nearly as neutral as many vodkas- there is actually some flavor here and character. While others might be better suited for regular mixing, this one can actually be drunk straight with a twist.
It's got some texture- a bit of a mouthfeel- that is definitely a sign of quality, and feels distinctively thick compared to thinner, inexpensive vodkas. There's a bit of a sweet citrus already, in fact, and tasters reported a detectable pleasant nose that isn't common amongst vodkas. The packaging is lovely- an elegant crystalled, multi-facted bottle- and the price is more than reasonable for this category at about $40 a bottle. We've tried most of the major brands, and a few that are rarer on our shores, but this is one of our favorites for lighter mixes and to replace gin in some drinks, since it has almost a botanical nature. Available now, widely, and winner of a Gold Medal at the SF World Spirits Competition.
Jefferson's Reserve "Very Old Kentucky Very Small Batch Whiskey" also won a Gold Medal at the same event. One of their four bottles, this one was the first we've tried from McLain & Kyne, and we had heard great things. So out came our special bourbon glass, the NEAT Glass that we picked up not long ago at the Whisky Live event. We used some whiskey stones to help chill the glass without cutting it, and let it open for about five minutes before tasting. Sipped against some other contenders, this one compared favorably, more oak and raisin on the nose than smoke or caramel, smooth and even. The first sip is surprising- not a long burn at the end, but an early punch of vanilla and a solid finish at the back of the throat.
A few drops of water opened up this one some, a bit more tobacco, and we liked it best this way. It's far too good to mix, and while the bottle is nothing outstanding, the whole experience is very classy- this one impressed most everyone, including novices, and while it didn't seem quite as deep as some of the really old (20+ year) that we've tried, it did clearly have a good number of years on it, mellowing out the edges and condensing the flavors so that it packs a fine wallop. Sip this one in the fall- it didn't seem quite a winter whiskey, and definitely well-suited to a good lounging evening with friends. Available in limited quantities for around $50 a bottle, and worth it.