The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2015

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Page 108 of 136

108  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2015 CATEGORY REPORT In a country that loves throaty V-8s, barbecue and bone-crunching sports, how did a spirit as delicate and nuanced as vodka so thoroughly dominate the limelight? For most consumers, the draw is its purity; for others, it is vodka's enormous diversity. While some are gloriously neutral, others are profoundly personable and laced with flavor. Whatever the reason, these are the best of times for vodka enthusiasts. "The vodka category continues on a steep incline upwards, which is inescapable evi- dence of its mass popularity," says Michael Dennehy, of DUN Beverage Partners, importers of Russian Diamond Vodka. "According to Adam's Beverage Information Group, the vodka category grew to 72 million cases in 2013, which represents a whopping 34.1% of all distilled spirits sold in the U.S." To the uninitiated, vodka seems like an uncompli- cated proposition. But that's far off the mark. They are the unique product of microclimate, technique and water. Their base commodities—be they grain, grapes or potatoes—are nurtured by the sun, rain and soil. Distillation then renders their essence into the lightest of all spirits, one unfettered by the weighty effects of barrel aging. The character of the water is a most telling ingredient, however. Water is what gives vodka its singular identity—a genetic fingerprint, if you will. The spirit's steadily increasing popularity means that a stream of interesting new brands will continue crossing our borders looking for a home in America— uncovering the gems amongst the multitude of vod- kas can be daunting. by Robert Plotkin SPIRIT OF What's New with America's

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