(Editor's note: August 2006 issue of Cigar Aficionado contains a feature on vodka by Jack Bettridge. The following article covers two emerging vodkas that missed the press deadline. See The Vodka Vogue in Cigar Aficionado, August 2006 (page 166) for coverage of the boom in this clear spirit and a look at many other brands.)
Write a feature on a subject as large and active as vodka and it's inevitable that you'll miss some products. Two newly released imports, Peureux Perfect 1864 (France) and Yes! (Netherlands), have since come to my attention and bear mentioning.
Both superpremiums hew to the trend reported in the August issue: high-priced vodkas are developing from new production regions with ingredients and manufacturing techniques meant to distinguish them and their level of purity.
PEUREUX PERFECT 1864
Perfect's pitch associates itself with the importance France places on terroir in beverage production and with its strict controls of wine and brandy. The spirit is made by Grand Distilleries Peureux, a producer of fruit eaux-de-vie in a region known for producing kirsch.
The company touts the softness of its wheat, which is grown in Brie Champagne, an area known for grain production. Distillation is performed at Brie Champagne Distilleries of Provins, which exclusively distills wheat products. Blending and the addition of water happen at Grandes Distilleries Peureux in the foothills of the Vosges Mountain, where the spring water is sourced.
Each batch of distillate is given a certificate of origin by the manufacturers. The company compares this to the legally mandated French appellation control system used for Cognac, although there is no such requirement for French vodka.
While "history" is stressed, along with origin and quality, in the product's promotion, it is a more tenuous connection to vodka. The date 1864 refers to the year Grandes Distilleries Peureux was founded and Auguste Peureux codified his distilling methods, although the quintuple distillation for Perfect actually occurs at Brie Champagne Distilleries. Promotion also drums the tradition for producing eaux-de-vie in eastern France. A Frenchman, Cellier Blumenthal, filed patents in the nineteenth century for a column still, which is the basis of most modern vodka production. There also seems to have been some vodka production in the eighteenth century for the abdicated Polish king Stanislaw Leszczynski, who set up court in Nancy.
Already available throughout Europe, Perfect 1864 was recently released in New Orleans, Rhode Island, Connecticut and South Carolina, and by next year should be available throughout the U.S. at prices ranging from $40 to $45. Visit www.perfect1864.com
Suggested cocktails:The Perfect Wave
1 1/2 parts Perfect Vodka 1/2 part Blue Curacao 2 parts pineapple juice 4 parts sour mix Shake vigorously, serve as long drink Garnish with pineapple wedge or orange and cherry The Perfect Gentleman
1 1/2 parts Perfect vodka 1/2 part coffee liqueur Pour over ice in rocks glass The Perfect Scenario
2 Parts Perfect vodka 1 part apple schnapps Splash pomegranate juice Shake/stir over ice, strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with green apple wedge
Yes! is the answer to the question: "Can American marketers apply the Dutch tradition for gin making be to vodka?"
The story goes that the three partners in the brand, two of whom had been involved in bringing Stolichnaya to the U.S., initially thought of Russia or Poland when they considered a vodka venture. They changed their minds when they met Rene Vriends, of A.H. Wanders B.V. distillery, who suggested the quadruple filtering method used for gin in Holland if they were to produce a sipping vodka with no flavoring.
Yes! also uses fine wheat grain, but sources water purified through reverse osmosis. After distillation the spirit goes through the four-method filtration process: (in order) chill, charcoal-, micro- and crystal-filtering.
The manufacturers did, however, make a connection with Poland in the product's packaging: the distinctive bottle, while designed and made in Italy, is sent to Poland where it is decorated with its signature red and white balloons.
Launched in June Yes! is available in Nevada, California and Illinois with additional rollouts planned. The price is $29.99. Visit www.yesimportedvodka.com.
Y-Spot Pomegranate Martini
2 oz. Yes! vodka 1 oz. pomegranate juice 1 oz. Cointreau Splash of Champagne Squeeze of lemon Cup of ice Add ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled Martini glass and garnish with pomegranate fruit or lemon peel.
2 oz. Yes! vodka 1/2 oz. Chambord 2 1/2 oz. pineapple juice Add ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled Martini glass and garnish with raspberry or small pineapple slice.