The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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120  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2014 DEPARTMENT HEADER E ven after reading the above quote from Master Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, we bet some of our read- ers shrugged. The thought "Vodka: been there, done that" might have crossed your mind. From fancy marketing campaigns and status-seeking consumers, to mixologists who went full-tilt on the anti-vodka campaign, this category's been contentious in recent years. But ignoring this spirit with its rich traditions would being doing the consumer and your bar program a great injustice—after all, it is arguably the most popular spirit category in the U.S. and around the world! So what is left to say about vodka? As our industry makes strides to understand that there's as much room on the shelf for vodka as there is for an impressive brown spirit and agave collection, and as craft distillers bring artisanal brands front and center, increasingly-educated consumers are asking the questions that matter, giving vodka its chance to shine. Unable to hide its imperfections behind aging in casks, vodka must stand on its ingredients and distillation process, and must work to maintain a heritage and sense of place. These days, terms like terroir, small-batch and pot-still have increasingly entered the conversation behind the stick, as well as on the other side of the bar. Many brands, new and old, are looking to bring vodka back to its roots, while others search for a creative approach to reinvigorate the category. With so many interesting expressions popping up, THE TASTING PANEL thinks there is no better time to reexamine this fan favorite, so join us as we delve a little deeper into the clear pond of this spirit, and ask "What's left to say about vodka?" Beyond Clear "Often passed over as a spirit cat- egory of interest, it is at times given a bad rap within the bartending community. Vodka's heritage and flavor nuances deserve a measure of reverence; it deserves a place alongside its spirituous cousins whisky, gin, tequila and so on." —Tony Abou-Ganim, Vodka Distilled NEVER A CATEGORY TO STAY STAGNANT, VODKA CONTINUES TO EVOLVE IN A SATURATED MARKETPLACE Beyond Clear Beyond Clear Beyond Beyond Clear Clear Clear

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