The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2013

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COVER STORY PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG The Soyombo team at the 2013 Holiday Buying Show in New York City. Pictured from left to right: Nick McKelvey Jr., Marketing & Operations Manager; Bill Chiusano, New Jersey State Manager; Ryan Dougherty, Marketing Manager, On-Premise; Arthur Shapiro, Managing Director, Americas; and Cliff Oldfield, Marketing Manager, Off-Premise. A Mongolian drinking ritual calls for the drinker to dip his ring finger into the vodka. He then flicks his finger behind, above and straight ahead—signifying past, present and future. Make that two flicks forward to toast the introduction of Soyombo into the U.S. market. The future is promising for the new vodka from Mongolia, even considering the very crowded vodka category. It is a handcrafted vodka with mystique. "Mongolia is a widely misunderstood country," says Arthur Shapiro, Managing Director of the Americas for APU, Mongolia's premier beverage company and the distiller of Soyombo. "Many people in Mongolia speak and read three languages. It's a sophisticated culture," Shapiro points out. "The country was a satellite of the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1992. But it's a culture that did not lose its own identity while at the same time embracing what the world around them had to offer. " Soyombo displays a medium-creamy mouthfeel, with anise, citrus and grain notes, and a long, pepper-flecked finish. "It has a distinct smoothness and unique taste," says Shapiro. "I am yet to encounter anyone who has tried the vodka and has not said that it is a fabulous-tasting product. The word exquisite keeps coming up." the oldest and heartiest, that have struggled to survive." Second: water. "The water source is 800,000 years old; it goes down into the earth," says Shapiro. Third and finally: distillation. Soyombo is distilled six times and filtered over five days. "We filter the product over precious minerals. Not just charcoal, but diamonds, silver and quartz. It takes the congeners out. It makes the product taste smoother. So we're really talking handcrafted." The Mongolians inherited this craftsmanship and care from the Russians, who classify vodkas by purity. An Alpha spirit is the top of the heap—the raw spirit is as free as possible of congeners or ingredients that can make it difficult to drink. "This product exceeds the Russian standards," says Shapiro. Stragetic Marketing Soyombo began distribution in some U.S. markets in September and October: New Jersey, Upstate (not Metro) A Breakout Vodka PHOTO: THE APU COMPANY Shapiro details the factors that he believes makes Soyombo unique and potentially a breakout hit on the market. First, Soyombo is distilled from wheat grown in Mongolia's Selenge Province, marked by extreme elevation, bitter cold and a short growing season. "The wheat is not particularly good for bread, nor is it good for pasta, but it is outstanding for vodka," notes Shapiro. "It's a little bit like the best Cognac, which comes from the grapes that are It's true what they say about Soyombo coming from "under the eternal blue skies," as shown by this picture of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia and home to Soyombo. november 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  71 TP1113_066-107.indd 71 10/24/13 9:23 AM

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