Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Taste: Karlsson's Gold

The vodka backlash, at least in the cocktail-mad speak bars, is in full force, so strong that a reverse backlash has started, as even those uninterested in the generally neutral spirit are taking a second look at what's good and not so good out there.

Include me as one of those reevaluating vodka's place. Good vodka, consumed the way drinkers once did in Poland, Russia, Scandinavia or other original sources, has qualities worth considering: crisp and clean, earthy and rustic, simple but refreshing, great with smoked or pickled fish, sliced meats, vinegary cooked root vegetables, cucumbers and pickles.

Karlsson's Gold, made from seven varieties of new potatoes, is one of the few vodkas I would select as a chilled sipper. There's a rich sweetness on the palate, but it's not overbearing or excessively glycerine-like. Clean and crisp apple and lemon flavors ensue, with an herbal bite - anise, perhaps rosemary - and some earthiness, to be expected from a potato vodka. In the mouth, it is creamy and rich, and finishes bright, charming and clean, with a note of cocoa and coffee bean. Like a lean albariño, Karlsson's offers qualities that make it a natural for food, and it's a smart choice for culinary cocktails. My usual order of preference in terms of vodka sources is rye and then potato, but in this case, I'm thinking Karlsson's Gold is easily among the best two or three I've tasted in the past year.
My score: 7

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