As various markets mature, companies must find ways to milk the teat of the cash cow. This often results in the introduction of product derivatives, knock offs, if you will of the primary product that has generated the cash over the periods of time.  The vodka market has done this overall.  Now Belvedere, long standing as one of the top premium vodkas in the marketplace has introduced Belvedere Intense. Basically, this is Belvedere vodka, attractively re-packaged and upping the ante in alcohol content.

Belvedere on Steriods

But is it any good? Like all marketing machines, there are angles that the marketeers take to try to convince the buying public that this is a new product, and that they must try it. In this case, the vodka is double filtered through charcoal to yield a pleasing texture and complexity. It has a advanced thickness upon pouring from the bottle. I tried mine over ice as opposed to martini style. The first sip of the product is direct.  The taste gets right after you.  It is a stark taste in the same vein as regular Belvedere, just, well, more intense.  It appears the marketeers did a good job of naming this.  This product contains all of the pleasantries of regular Belvedere, just more of it. You begin to notice that this is a higher alcohol product midway through the taste. The alcohol kicks in, and takes away from the initial taste of the Belvedere. At a certain moment, the taste becomes a bit overwhelming, and you feel the urge to take in a bit less in the next sip to smooth the experience somewhat. To this end, I let the second one sit for a few minutes in the ice.  While this has the effect of weakening the drink overall, which is clearly not the intent of this product, it does sooth the experience considerably to allow a more complete enjoyment of the product. I serve mine, as I do with all vodkas, straight out of the freezer.  The freezer setting is set to the coldest possibility (I have separate freezer for all my vodka products). I would encourage the similar approach, especially when serving martini style.

The finish is not surprising with a 100 proof product. It warms as it advances down the palate ending with a bit of kick that actually has a spice tone to it. You can also feel the effects of the 100 proof more aggressively than regular Belvedere, so my legal counsel has advised me to remind everyone to drink responsibly. Overall, this is not a bad product. I do not fault Belvedere for this product.  If you look at virtually any other liquor markets, any of the more established brands are now offering advance alcohol content products. Others I have tried (like whiskeys/bourbons) are about the same as this product.  Just more intense of the legacy product.  Belvedere had the good sense to call it Belvedere Intense. Good call.

I give this a total of 7 out 10 total glasses. We Americans may feel the need to ratchet up our buzz given all that goes on in our country, so if you are a vodka drinker and want a little quicker escape, give Belvedere Intense a try. It is priced about the same as flagship Belvedere, and widely distributed. Peace.