The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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PHOTO: NIKKI RICHTER At Walnut Creek, CA eatery Vanessa's Bistro, Beverage Manager Michael Nguyen has fallen for ABSOLUT ELYX. A Magnificent (Re)Discovery PHOTO: NIKKI RICHTER When ABSOLUT Master Distiller Krister Asplund rediscovered a long-lost copper still in an abandoned distillery, ELYX-inspiration struck. The still, dating back to 1921, had been forgotten as the vodka brand modernized production mechanisms and opened the distillery, but as it was unearthed, the iconic brand was jettisoned into the future with a blast from the past. "Krister was immediately inspired," comments Maxime Kouchnir, VP Vodkas, Pernod Ricard USA, "and it was a very magical moment, surrounded by a lot of romance. It became a passion project, and we embarked on a journey to revive and create a new, modern expression of ABSOLUT, leveraging the beautiful story of this still into a new product." With a new product in mind and a focus on creating a vodka for the modern spirit-focused marketplace, ABSOLUT moved into the boutique, handcrafted arena. "We took one look at this still and were inspired to return to making vodka the old fashioned way," explains Laurent Cutier, Senior Brand Manager, ABSOLUT for Pernod Ricard USA. "This still is manually operated, with a lot of knobs and things to move in order to perfect the distillation. There were no computers back in the 1920s, and in an age where we're using computers for everything, it is good to show the know-how and human skill in the production of vodka. That was the starting point for ELYX: expertise in vodka-making." The seed irmly planted, the ABSOLUT team continued to develop the ELYX concept, moving forward to source the highest-quality ingredients possible for this extremely limited-production release (ELYX accounts for just .01 percent of ABSOLUT's total case production). "Everything used in the production of ELYX is sourced from within 15 miles of the distillery," explains Cutier of the single estate, 100% hand-selected wheat that goes into the artisanal vodka. "It is super-local and sustainable, and we've had a long relationship with these suppliers, working in mutual respect of each other's craft," chimes in Kouchnir. Liquid Silk With the perfect ingredients lined up and a passionate distiller at the helm, ELYX undergoes a two-step process involving copper—irst passing through a bed of copper packets before being distilled in the vintage all-copper still—resulting in a remarkably smooth vodka with a clear, silky character. "The copper distillation is key to really transforming these ingredients into liquid silk," comments Kouchnir, who offers up a challenge as proof of ELYX's superior smoothness. "It's a vodka we like to serve at room temperature—you cannot lie at room temp!" But you don't have to take the brand's word for it when it comes to the special character of the vodka. Few voices are more authoritative than the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which awarded ELYX Best Vodka of Show in its 2013 blind tasting. And did we mention that this panel tastes at the truth-telling room temp? "It really speaks to the passion that's gone into this project," says Kouchnir, who notes that ABSOLUT original was also awarded Double Gold in the competition. "While ELYX is the exceptional demonstration of our know-how, it its extremely well with the rest of the ABSOLUT family. We have a mantra in Ahus: the Swedish phrase for 'unnecessarily good.' It's a statement that we do not compromise on quality with ABSOLUT, and ELYX really takes that ABSOLUT commitment to our quality message even further." may 2013 / the tasting panel / 65

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