The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 127 of 140

Notes from the El Rancho team & The Tasting Panel: Russian Standard Platinum ($25/750 ml): Clean entry, with a bite on its creamy mid-palate that brushes the tongue with peach, The inaugural release of Stoli elit's Pristine Water Series is distilled using water collected from a reservoir nearly 10,000 feet above sea level in the Himalaya mountains of Nepal. Packaged in hand-blown Czech bottles, a decorative golden ice pick is included in its (extremely limited edition) numbered oak case. The tasting, according to Cane, was a "base, background, set-up" to taste and compare the first Stoli elit Pristine Water Series. "The Stoli elit Pristine Water Series, by itself, is literally pristine, perfect, flawless vodka. It was in a class by itself and really can't be compared to anything else," admits Cane, who also enjoyed the Jewel of Russia Ultra, "which was complex, with subtle nuances of wheat, stone, pepper and an undertone of butter-brittle. It lets you know what vodka is about." Cane moderated the panel, saying, "This event is to examine the essence of Russia. These vodkas are all excellent examples of the Russian style: complex, thought provoking and in a word, interesting. For a vodka aficionado, they all stack up quite well." The tasting was staged at Dos Carlitos, a colorful Mexican restaurant in the heart of cowboy town and wine community Santa Ynez, inland a bit from California's Central Coast. With its great collection of tequilas and reputation for housemade Margaritas, Dos Carlitos may not seem the natural choice for a Russian vodka tasting, but the the venue's popularity and charm- ing atmosphere, made it a home away from home to cheer Na zdaróvye! apricot and chamomile notes. Nice, clean finish. Made from 100% winter wheat and glacial water. Russian Standard Gold ($48/750ml): Viscous and weighty, the palate senses an immediate tingling of black pepper and ginger (Siberian ginseng is an ingredient). A wall of stone fruit holds up the background. Jewel of Russia ($58/1.0 liter): Creamy, cherry-peppered and grainy high tonality: layers of cake, sweet red fruit, parchment and butter brittle. The spirit goes through a high-absorbent filtration for extra purity—and silky texture. Beluga Noble ($33/750 ml): Top of the palate unctuousness, while the bottom is ethereal and poised. One month matura- tion process allows the hand-selected Russian grain spirit to "rest," maturing into a big state- ment that finishes elegantly. Beluga Gold Line ($127/750 ml): Double filtration and a three month maturation process increases the intensity and dimension of the brand in this iteration. This was a wow-fac- tor profile: chocolate notes reign with a cocoa latte smoothness and almost sweet richness. The longest—and smoothest—finish of the tasting. Stolichnaya elit ($58/750 ml): The Jewel of Russia bottle design is 300 years old. With its strong entry, it hits hard with a firm grip and then backs off with The metal fish is hand placed on every bottle of Beluga vodka. an elegant bow. Pepper and tobacco dance with a touch of grape nuance. "I loved the ride," said Greg King, President of El Rancho Market, "big up front and a smooth finish." Stoli elit Himalayan ($3,200/1.0 liter): The liquid skates on the tongue, glassy, edgy and astringent, salted and peppered, coating the palate with anise and sage. Coriander and green tea rear up and the finish, while complex and layered, is amazingly crisp and clean. The desire to experience the Stoli elit Pristine Water series was the joint venture of El Rancho Wine/Spirits Director David Michael Cane, and passionate vodka aficionado Jon Price, Manager, El Rancho Marketplace. After it is distilled, the liquid in Stoli elit is cooled to sub- zero temperatures and as the density increases, it makes it easier to remove imperfections. november 2012 / the tasting panel / 127

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