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Deep Eddy Vodka, distilled in Austin, Texas is yet another product that comes from the ever growing field of micro distilleries that figure out how to out in place some kind of marketing scheme to grow to at least a regional following.  Deep Eddy Vodka does much of the same. In this case, the Deep Eddy Vodka rides the wave that is Austin Texas self pretentiousness (do not worry Austin, I still love you and the area, but you’ll are very hung up on everything Austin), more specifically the unofficial sound bite of the area:  ”Deep Austin Weird”.

Deep Eddy Vodka succeeds on several levels, but overall I was not that impressed.  Its presentation in the glass comes across crisp and clean.  A good start.  First jump into the vodka, however, the taste leaps onto the tongue quickly with an overly grainy taste mixed with that aggressive chemical tastes that all vodkas have. It smooths out a bit in the middle of the swirl, and then with a brief return of the harshness, it then falls off in taste as if you have worn out the sugar taste in your chewing gum. With a flat finish, you never completely gather the character of this vodka. Again, all of our tests are with straight, unflavored vodka unless we indicate so on the review title.  Deep Eddy Vodka seems to have a bit more potency in its taste, although this can easily be confused with the chemical burn in this vodka.

Given this vodka is from Austin, it is not surprising that they have a twist that satisfies the Austin attitude.  They advertise the vodka as being gluten free.  Not sure this does anything for the taste good or bad, and, well, I am not from Austin, so maybe one of those folks would have to tell me what the true advantage of a gluten free vodka is……I suspect there is not any and this is just a marketing gimmick. They also advertise it is distilled 10 times.  OK. Whatever.

This vodka is priced in the lower line of vodkas.  averaging around 17.99 for a 750 ml bottle. A mixer, Deep Eddy Vodka shines a little better.  It is a good mix with the energy drink of your choice, and certainly the pricing above lends itself better to this approach.  Deep Eddy Vodka also has other flavors. The sweet tea vodka is quite popular locally

On a scale of 10, I give Deep Eddy a 6. Pricing and mixing personality drive this rating a bit north.  Overall, I was just not impressed straight.


As soon as I submit to the many readers of this site that I emphasize the non flavored vodka market, I go off and spend most of the recent posts on that market:

Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka...Looks I Need Not Report On The Price

This vodka surprised me.  As many of you read in prior posts, I am a big fan of 360 Vodka.  I reviewed the 360 Double Chocolate product earlier.  I must say, this offering surpassed the 360 product, but for a totally different reason than one would think. Flavored vodkas tend to get away from the true taste of vodka.  This is one of the reasons I do not favor the flavored market.  Van Gogh, however, combined the best of both worlds.  The beginning of the Van Gogh product tastes for a glimpse of a moment like a smooth straight up vodka. While this sensation is very short lived, and followed by a rush of chocolate taste that nearly overwhelms, it still has that vodka flavor. Many of the vodka drinkers who are merely social on the product will not appreciate this trait in Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka. But this is what truly cause the product to shine, beyond that of the 360 offering. Not only does the taste start true vodka, it lingers excellently throughout the taste. Swirl it in your mouth for at least 10 seconds.  You will have a smooth combination of the vodka and dutch chocolate taste.  This combination also separates it from another criticism I have on the drink taste drink market overall; that is if you wish to get s overload sensation of a taste in a alcohol, just go purchase a liqueur. Nothing can beat a bottle of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur if you really wish for a chocolate sensation.  But generally, this has no place in true hard liquor beverages.

For this reasoning, I adore the Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka, at least as much as I can adore such products.  The vodka taste that resonates throughout the splash is also very smooth. It combines delicately with the chocolate to bring a relaxing, laid back sipping kind of night that can lead to other bohemian pleasures. This expecially true as your significant other, who is likely not a vodka hound, needs to have a taste pleaser to tie on that cool buzz.

Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka is imported from Holland.  It is 70 proof, so it is a bit lighter on the buzz factor than a straight up vodka.  The price, well, check the picture above. Cool me does not remove price tags before snapping photos.  This price was for a 750 ML bottle.  It is produced from grain in Holland.  The other thing I mention here is that it has a twist off cap.  While convenient for easy access (every make likes easy access), I do not consider this a good packaging scheme for a vodka that costs north of $27 a 750 ML bottle.

Not sure about the distribution of this product, but feel free to check out the website, Van Gogh Vodkas for more information.  Happy Vodka

I have stated here that we are more about reviewing straight up vodka as opposed to the flavored vodkas.  With that said, of course, we have reviewed two entries in the flavored market with good results. So a reader posted a comment wishing to know more information on the flavored vodka market.  What is the size, revenues, etc. Good question. While we do not have revenue figures, we do have an overall feeling on the marketplace. As stated on our page “Marketplace” we have stated that the vodka market is more mature….it went through the desperately popular phase which effectively gave birth to a lot of the premium brands we have reviewed here and most have come to know well. Martini’s were the rage.  But “martini” then meant straight up vodka, well shaken, with a little “dirt” in it, such as olive juice, or vermouth.  Now, martini’s mean everything under the sun.  They are laced with all kinds of flavors and concoctions that vary little from other specialty drinks.

All this to make the point, that as a market matures, the brands that enjoyed their cash cow position introduces new products to keep the interest of the buying public and try to further gain that all mighty market share that all the financial whacks in each company wish to see. The straight up vodka market has matured and flattened. It is not disappearing.  But the market place is now enriched with offerings from many premium brands to the movement taking place now whereby local distilleries are making their brand….many marketing regionally at first, then going on to a more national scale.  Tito’s of the Austin area fits this.  I hate Tito’s. Texans love it. Every place in this region carries it, and now, it is expanded to a larger market. We will be reviewing a few of these regional offerings in the near future

But the other thing that has happened is the onslaught of flavored vodkas. This market place overall nearly equals the straight vodka market in size.  Every premium brand now offers a multitude of of flavored vodkas.  These are driving the drink choices in the mixtures mentioned above that call themselves martini’s, if but for the only reason is that they are served in a martini goblet.  Once again, while I do not have the numbers or the patience to research such, I do know the size is as stated above.

I continue to focus on the straight vodka market in this site, and will continue to do so. But I know that many of the readers out there are more familiar with the flavored vodka market.  Many of you started drinking vodka onluy on flavored vodkas.  And for this, we will also continue to post periodic reviews on the flavored market as well

Happy drinking.

 

Now that title is a mouthful.  The Rum Guy jumps into obscurity with his latest entry.

Today’s featured rum is from the lower price range of the spectrum.  The ultimate goal is to try every commercial rum and to find the best rum values on the market.  While some of my top rums are indeed in the upper cost tiers, not all have been a good value for your hard-earned cash.  So today’s entry, “Tropic Isle Palms—Spiced Cask Rum” addresses the other end.   While research found very little information about the company, the bottle states it is imported from Barbados, where “modern” rum is thought to have been originated.  The origin of the word “Rum” is lost to the mists of time, and several different linguistic experts disagree on that origin.   One item we can agree on, good rum means good times.  The island of Barbados makes a number of rums, some better than others but all are worth trying.  Historically, I have never been a huge fan of the “spiced” rums.  I have to be in a certain mood, and generally that happens only a couple times a year.  Purchases therefore have been few and far between, as I hate to spend the money on a rum and have it sit, lonely and ignored for months at a time.  That would not be a good rum bargain.  Having said that, I tried this Tropic Isle Palms.  The bottle has an appealing picture of two coconut palm trees and underneath that two barrels, to induce that impression of having been aged in barrels.  The rum itself is yellow-gold in color, similar to a beer when poured.  Upon opening the top, the aroma of fruit and spice rises gently to the nose.  Pouring a straight shot, this 70 proof rum is lighter than most I have tried.  The first taste on the tongue takes me to the tropics, with banana and vanilla overtones with a hint of cherry.  The spices seem to include a touch of cinnamon, cardamom, and light black pepper, but are subtle not overpowering.  It has a very smooth finish, perhaps due to the lower alcohol content but also to the right mix of spices.  While this is not a rum for drinking straight up, it mixes very well with both regular cola and Cherry Coke Zero.  With fruit juice it is a refreshing mix for a hot summer day.   Tropic Isle also sells a number of flavored rums if you are so inclined.   I am not a fan of flavored rum, but obviously people like it, as all the major rum distillers sell their own versions.   The texture and flavor of this Palms rum hold together, even if the drink sits unattended for a few minutes, which some rums do not do.  At about $12 a bottle, I was very pleased with this rum.  If you like spiced rums, or are looking to try one, I can recommend this rum, especially for summer outdoor social occasions.

redd granite 2 Tropic Isle Palms Spiced Rums Review   The Rum Guy

 

Does it make my Top Ten Rums?  No, but a very good rum for the price.

What do you do on a Sunday night, the end of a weekend, to create the bridge into the workweek?  Well, of course you invade your daughters stash of Skyy Vodka.  Only this time, I did not realize that this was a flavored vodka. The last post informed you what I think of flavored vodkas and review them, but truth be told, we will need to review them, as clearly, even thought the vodka marketplace introduces new entries all the time, the maturing marketplace has turned to flavored offerings to keep the short term ADD people of Wall Street happy, whether we like it or not.

Thing is, this is a good flavored vodka. The first taste to the lip yielded a nice fruity taste void of the the strength of this vodka which is the normal 80 proof of any other vodka.  Now it is no secret that the flavored vodka market appeals to the 20 somethings as they mix it with Red Bull and other drinks that are lace with uppers to give them their next legal high. They will mix it with Red Bull, any other energy drink that gives them that extra jolt.  Very good.  I just found this to be are refreshing drink over the rocks….as is all my reviews, straight up. The taste of berry is vibrant, pleasant to the palate. After the berry taste infusion came a smooth, subtle, yet decent kick of the taste of vodka (you regulars know what I am talking about, no need to explain here). The finish was just a bit rough, but not obtrusive.

Skyy is produced with ethanol in northern California. So, in a way, it is the opposite of the green from the last two reviews, since ethenol should probably be going into our vehicles instead.  How politically incorrect. At $19.95 for a .75 bottle, it is pricey, but worth it. On a scale of 10 martini glasses, I give it a solid six.  And remember, I am jaded since I normally focus on unflavored vodka.  Lets put it this way, in the heat around here that has been averaging over 106 for the last two weeks, Skyy Dragon Fruit over ice was very nice.  I also endorse mixing it with a citrus soda, like 7up, Sprtie or the like, or the diet derivative, (my choice, anyway) of the aforementioned

 

As discussed in the marketplace section of this site, the vodka market exploded, and now we are in the ‘maturing’ state of the marketplace.  And, with this, comes the onslaught of new product from every brand trying to capture more, or maintain, some level of market share. It is no different with 360 Vodka, reviewed last post. I have not ventured out to review the flavored vodkas as yet, because this site has not reached the maturity and the market saturation that the overall vodka marketplace has.

360 chocolate vodka

But I feel compelled, yes, compelled to review 360 chocolate vodka. So you already know from last post I am a big fan of 360.  It simply is the best taste and value out there that I have discovered to date. I will continue the journey to try, and review many others, but so far, take note, 360 is king.  Same goes for its chocolate vodka. From the first approach to the lips and tongue, this flavored vodka satisfies to a dramatic level. It starts out very smooth, very chocolate milk-like.  You have not an idea at this point that you are drinking a vodka, a 80 proof vodka at that.  Upon swishing around in the palate, the vodka kicks in, with a little punch that reminds you that your not in Kansas anymore, Toto. This kick is still a bit stealth. Just enough to know you are there, but not strong enough to ruin the chocolate experience.  Then finish then returns to a smooth, unparalleled taste that resonates with pure cocoa flavor.  This is not your typical candy bar chocolate taste, this is just a bit less sweet.  But the taste runs deeply into a creamy smoothness.

The aftertaste is like afterglow of coitus. The taste and aroma linger for a few moments reminding of the smooth experience you just ingested. Even non vodka drinkers would severely appreciate this drink in its straight form. It can serve as a sipping drink that can last even the most weak of drinkers through a party.  Just keep it iced up.

Along with the 360 Chocolate Vodka Review comes a suggestion. Clearly, all brands are trying to capture larger market share by including drinkers that would normally not imbibe in straight up vodka, like this purist site likes to review. So for you out there who fall into this category, not a criticism, but a suggestion.  Not that 360 chocolate vodka needs this, but try mixing the product with whole milk.  Mix it a third milk, two thirds 360 chocolate vodka. The result is a creamy sensatiion that will leave your senses wanting a whole lot more.

Out of 10 martini glasses, I give 360 chocolate vodka a solid 9. Why not a 10? Well its principle mainly.  Not sure what a 10 really looks or tastes like, so something that gets as close as this, I stick with my 9

Pricing is about the same as regular 360 vodka. Check the post below as I discuss in detail average pricing for regular 360.

OK. I promise, I will get off this 360 vodka kick.  We must go on review so many more, a challenge I am up to. Check back often.  I review vodkas from a every day guy consumer standpoint, not some professional.  This is true word of mouth, baby, and you can get it right here for all your vodka review queries.

360 Vodka is reviewed today. Frankly, I am long overdue in providing this review of a most vibrant brands on the marketplace. I guess you can kind of gauge how this review will turn out, but read on anyway. 360 Vodka is manufactured in tiny Weston, Missouri. This town of less than 2,000 now boasts a vodka brand that has ridden the vodka popularity ride and has done a great job in the making. As you can see from the map below, the city is near Kansas City, and Levenworth, Kansas, with its prisons and military installations. The region near Weston is generally void of the hills of Missouri, the town itself is actually quite picturesque as it borders the Platte river, and the hills that the river basin has formed over the years.  This vodka is made from grain, and distilled, and filtered 5 times overall resulting in a taste that is clean and crisp, smooth, yet not too much so to leave itself in the pack as a a vodka imposter.  Lets face it, some of the allure of the taste of vodka that differentiates itself from other alcohol is its unique bite.

Flatlands Mean Grain, Grain, Grain

This 80 proof product (that’s 40% alcohol, and standard for most hard liquors) begins with a fairly instant and strong rush of that vodka push which I often refer to the chemical taste (that which a lot of drinkers cannot stand about vodka). The tastes rushes in with a blast, then slowly fades into a smoothness that leaves you actually appreciating it’s grain origins and multiple filtering process. While I cannot quite taste the difference this makes, the last filtering is through coconut shells….do not ask me how or the advantage. But the result is a very satisfying vodka that I prefer to drink over ice straight. For those of you who shy away from the strong rush of vodka but enjoy the overall taste, you should mix with a dash of water or pour over ice and let the ice melt a bit……of course, remember, all of my vodka drinks are served straight from the freezer, and great 360 should be no different.

Clean, Crisp 360 Vodka

Another interesting point of this vodka is the branding. First of all the pricing.  This is considered a ‘premium’ vodka by the marketplace.  It is priced lower than most of the premiums and those that have been reviewed in this site. It ranges from $35-40 generally all over for a 1.75 liter bottle (we only price 1.75 liters here, I mean, what the use of the smaller bottles anyway?). There are also deals out there to be had since this brand is less known to the masses.  But they are working hard on the branding from another approach. They present a very friendly image. Along those lines, they have positioned themselves as a ‘green’ vodka.  What this means is: Although they do not advertise using organic grain, they do emphasize recycling by donating $1 for every bottle cap contraption sent in. They donate it to a green cause, and their website Vodka360 (click here for website) boasts that they have donated over $50,000 for this cause for caplet contraptions sent in.  They even pay postage.  Couple that with a very cool, clean, no nonsense packaging, leads to a brand approach  that can work for you hippies of the world. No data is available if their marketing budget dollar spend is higher in places like Boulder, CO, Austin, TX, or the Bay Area.  Their website has a list of stores.  You can check it out for your self.

On a scale to 10, I give this a solid 8 martini shakers……….

 

Kettle One Vodka Smoothness

It had been several years since a customer of mine suggested I try Kettle One Vodka.  This was during the initial boom of the popularity of Vodka that resulted in this explosion of choices we now have in the marketplace.  I recall I liked it then.  However, I was relatively new to the Vodka scene, and many were good in my mind back then. So this was my first passage back to the Kettle in nearly a decade.

I was surprised by the initial impact of Kettle One.  I was expecting the bite to leap out upon first glance. To the contrary, it was as if there was not much of a taste at all. While you could certainly taste that you had a powerful vodka on the palate, it did not present that overriding chemical tastes that ends up biting the tongue in so many Vodka brands. As you the drinking experience continues, Kettle One transcends into almost a fruit taste as it finishes.  This is quite unusual for any Vodka brand. As Kettle One finishes, the aroma and the after taste introduce the more familiar chemical taste, one that is quite unpleasant. This finish just does not seem to fit with the initial smoothness of the start of the drinking experience. The second martini (for reviews, I always prepare them straight up, no fruit or twists, and shake them well and use a frozen goblet) the taste seem to jump out a bit more from the start.  Kettle One then started reminding me more of some of its brethren in the high end Vodka market.

Kettle One is a 100% wheat based product, distilled in copper tanks over charcoal. This is a bit different type of approach for Vodka distilleries. Kettle One is produced in Schiedan, Netherlands by Nobit Distilleries. It is considered in the high end Vodka marketplace, but priced a bit lower than the Grey Goose and Belvedere of the marketplace. It will run you between $45-55 for a 1.75 liter bottle, unless you live close to Mexico as I do, where I recently gave less than $20 for a 1.75 liter bottle in a border town while trying to avoid the bullets and kidnappings of the drug trade there.

Overall, Kettle One is a fine Vodka to begin your journey if you are not a normal Vodka drinker. Its smoothness is less harsh on the normal palate. I also consider this a good Vodka to mix into other Vodka related drinks.  Since it has less of an impacting taste by itself, it is a great marriage partner to mixes to make chocolate martini’s, cosmo’s, and the like

On a scale of ten, I give Kettle One a 7. Try it and let me know your thoughts

 

 

OK. We are a Vodka site.  So why the rum reviews?  Honestly, I have been drinking rums for much longer than vodka (see half story under marketplace page).  Our very own Rum Guy tastes and reviews rums so you do not have to.  I just happen to put them up here and on sister site REDDGRANITE. So go with it.

Flor De Cana

The latest in my attempt to find the great rums of the world, brings me to an almost-repeat.  Like dating a pretty girl then going out with her sister. Similar, but not the same.  I am referring to Flor De Cana, a rum from the Central American country of Nicaragua.  The name means Sugarcane Flower in espanol.  Based in Managua,  this 80 proof rum (which means 40% alcohol by volume) was originally introduced in 1890.  They state their product line has won over 100 awards since 2000.

 

From a marketing standpoint, the bottle is a standard-make bottle, not eye-catching at all.  The label is appealing with black and gold print on a pale yellow background, which accentuate the light amber color of the rum.  This time I am trying the 4-year old gold rum, versus the 7-year old Gran Reserva (Grand Reserve) I had tried earlier.  A younger sister, as it were.  The logos of each of their various products have their own similar but distinctive styles.  The more expensive the rum, the more elaborate the label.  Go figure.

 

Opening the screw-top, pouring it straight into a glass and watching the almost-gold liquid slide into the glass you can let the rum breathe.   The first flavor that catches your attention is vanilla.  Not as robust (or as overwhelming depending on your taste) as the 7 year Gran Reserva, this rum is subtle, like just a hint of perfume behind a woman’s ear.  The taste gives a moderate initial “burn” then quickly dissolves into a warm, mildly pleasant finish.  The flavor is slightly woody, like the smoke of a fireplace drifting a long way on the wind.  And that is the problem with this rum.  It is not “too” anything.  Not too much vanilla, not too much color, not too much smoke, not too much bite. I like my rums to have personality, and this one just doesn’t have much of one.  Sort of like the high-school science club.  Nice folks, but not exciting—no “oomph” as it were.  This rum doesn’t mix with cola well, either regular or diet cola.  Perhaps the vanilla distracts it.  It does mix with fruit juices quite well, which was a pleasant surprise.  Again, the subtle flavors enhance the fruit juice and do not overpower it, which many darker rums will do.

 

Would I try Flor De Cana again?  Perhaps, but only the older versions. At approximately $15 a bottle, it is not a bad rum, but there are better rums out there for the price.  It does not make my Top 10.

 

The Quest Continues…..

 

The Rum Guy

 

Ciroc Vodka has gained popularity in the marketplace lately with the teaming of P. Diddy, in 2007, as the pitch man for the product.  The result is a significant increase in the popularity, and stocking at your local watering hole or restaurant. This product sits in the high end market with others dominated by Grey Goose, Belvedere, and a host of other upcoming brands.

CIROC

Ciroc Vodka...Interesting Taste

Ciroc is manufactured in France.  It differs from other vodkas in that it is made from grapes, more specifically, grapes from the Gaillic region of France.  This vodka is also not aged in any significant manner, which lends to a more efficient production method. Knowing this, I was interested to give this vodka a good shake down. What I found was a rather interesting taste.  If taste differentiation from other vodkas in this category is a goal, they succeeded.

The aroma is the same as other vodkas.  It does not come across quite as pungent as others. It has a clear, crisp color. Ciroc takes full advantage of this in the packaging.  I test all vodkas straight up, well shaken, and in a frosted martini glass. No fruit. The first touch of Ciroc to the palate yields a somewhat confusing taste. It starts very smooth. So smooth, in fact, that it basically lacks a taste.  It is as if your first sip is that you are drinking a slightly flavored water. This tasteless sensation lasts for a few seconds, then is followed by the more characteristic, stronger vodka taste.  Once into this taste, it is not appreciably different tasting from other vodkas in this price group that are made from grains or potatoes. The taste remains consistent until the finish. At the finish, you are overwhelmed by a more chemical taste…much like drinking gasoline. Understanding, vodka is a developed taste, and to the normal person, all vodkas have a chemical taste. But to vodka drinkers, there is a fine line of difference between this taste of the masses, and that of the subtle taste of ingredients that vodkas are made from. The finish of Ciroc fortunately does not last long before you are into the next sip where the initial taste (or lack thereof) takes over. This is a product of tasting extremes.  I am not suggesting that this product is a complete waste, but its inconsistency is a bit surprising given its placement in the marketplace.

I give Ciroc an average rating overall. I rate it about a 5 out of 10, (10 being perfect). If it was in a lower price line, I would likely rate it higher, but I consider value as well.  This is a product that is place in the higher end market.  It runs between $55-65 for 1.75 liter bottle. Try this for yourself.  You may disagree with above. I also did not try this vodka mixed.  It may work decently in specialty vodka drinks.

Either way, they are now very popular due to their aggressive marketing campaign. This is a very popular vodka among the 20 somethings out there.  Me, I just cannot quite get there…..I guess I am not a Sean P. Diddy fan.