Emperor's Brand and Crāv Spirits recently sent us some of their newest vodka offerings, namely the Versailles Vodka and Crāv Vodka (pronounced "crave"). The vodkas certainly differed in significant ways, with the Versailles being bolder on the palate, but both were very pleasing. In the ever-more-competitive vodka market, the two spirits would seem to have very bright futures, as the quality of both far exceeds today's norm.
Emperor's Brand Versailles Kings Vodka
Having entered the U.S. market in 2007, Emperor's Brand offers a quartet of vodkas for the American consumer: Winter Palace, Emperor, Imperial Exclusive and the Versailles. We were sent the Versailles, which the company dubs the "King's Vodka". The spirit, which comes in a beautiful, intricately-decorated bottle, uses French wheat (Northern France if you're wondering) as its base. Like two of the three other vodkas in the Emperor's Brand quartet, the Versailles sources its water from the Cognac region of the country.
Though the bottle artwork is definitively old school, there's nothing stodgy about the nose or palate. Versailles has a very subtle aroma that is at once alluring and sweet. The palate, interestingly enough, comes on much stronger than the nose. Peppermint candy is the predominant flavor in the powerful-but-enjoyable initial presentation. The vodka gradually backs off and the finish is very long and natural. Bottom line: nothing bitter, nothing artificial, no off-notes. Well done, Emperor's Brand!
It has been a while since we've had a vodka that is so enjoyable and so thoroughly blew past expectations. Cleveland-based Crāv Spirits, the brainchild of corporate-suit-turned-liquor-entrepreneur Tom Rini, gives us a fresh vodka that easily fulfills the marketing literature's confident promise of a "soft, silky, and extremely smooth" spirit.
Perhaps sadistically, we decided to taste Crāv alongside Twenty 2 vodka - one of our all-time favorites. Final verdict? Crāv did not disappoint.
Made from Idaho-sourced winter wheat, Crāv is gentle but not overly timid. The nose is subtle and slightly "citrusy". The palate is buttery and subtle and invites you back for more. (We obliged, of course :), as we found it to be infinitely sippable on its own). The finish is long and steady and the flavor is extraordinarily consistent throughout.
Gracious, beautiful, and thoroughly enchanting, we think Crāv will be the perfect party "hostess" in all vodka-based cocktails. Its palate richness will add texture and depth without interfering with flavor. Bottom line: Wow!