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The best of Scottish vodkas: Drink, by Gerard Richardson


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VODKA is a curious drink, isn’t it? I mean, let’s face it, it’s basically tasteless unless it’s sold as a flavoured version and in many parts of the world, usually the chilly parts, it’s consumed neat which means it’s basically a hit of alcohol. It’s also been well and truly put in the shade over the last few years by its pretty sister, gin, which in many ways is a similar product but with a bit of perfume and better public relations.

Vodka, however, isn’t going away anytime soon and I believe it could be on the verge of a new renaissance, perhaps even at the expense of the long predicted rum revolution. Why? Well, for a start, its basic weakness is one of the things I love about it. Vodka is graded, if you like, on its purity and while as I mentioned earlier it’s basically a tasteless product, you can line up dozens of them and detect interesting nuances and characteristics across the board and that makes it such an interesting base for cocktails.

Rum, on the other hand, is generally quite overpowering and becomes the dominant flavour in whatever way its served which is fine if you like rum. Flavoured spirits have taken a strong position on the shelves lately, particularly gin and vodka but, here again, the latter has the advantage because of its basic neutrality while flavourings added to gin have to combat the often overpowering main botanical, juniper. Personally, I prefer to add my own fruit to a drink and, for me, vodka is at its best served with simple orange juice and ice. Scottish distilleries, by the way, are producing some of the finest vodkas in the world with some novel twists on production and style and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Brochan Oat Scottish Vodka

A super-smooth vodka with honey, oats and nuts on the palate in what has to be the richest vodka I’ve tasted in years.

Royal Mile Whiskies £34.95

Holy Grass Scottish Vodka

Hints of creamy vanilla and spice on the nose with jasmine tea, apples and vanilla on the palate. Soft but very refreshing.

Dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk £34.00

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