Vodka is close to my heart. Not only is it the native drink of my homeland, Ukraine, it is a spirit which defines sophistication and delicacy. There is nothing better than good vodka and caviar.
I have had the opportunity to try good vodka both here in the United States and in the former Soviet Union. With the vodka popularity boom in the late 90s, many boutique distilleries opened around the world. Unfortunately, many distilleries opened with the goal of producing fine whiskey and other drinks. They pushed cheaper vodkas and gins out the door to keep customers happy while the real stuff aged in barrels.
A few produce good, drinkable vodka. A fewer still produced world-class boutique vodkas with interesting themes and fun packaging.
There are few rules to good vodka, it should be clear, creamy, smooth and non-funky-smelling.
I was shocked when I first moved to Montana and found that distilling laws were much more lax than those concerning brewing companies. That’s when I first heard of Vigilante Distilling. This Helena-based company, the owners of which were principally responsible for the bill that made distilling so much easier in Montana, is just getting started, but they’re off in a good direction with their first product.
I haven’t met them yet, but I’ve tried their vodka after getting a tip that it’s available at Grizzly Liquor.
Vigilante is good vodka if you’re in the mood for local vodka that can hold its own at a cold temperature. When it warms up, it develops a decidedly medicinal quality that isn’t altogether unpleasant, but it is noticeable.
What I noticed right off the bat is a sweet, smooth and clean taste to the back of the mouth. There is nothing harsh or abrasive on this vodka, but there is a slight herbal nose on it.
Like most vodkas, this on goes well with food. It’s not just the fact that it’s clear and clean, it actually brings out sharp flavors quite well. I tried some crackers with plum tomatoes, goat cheese and anchovies.
The labeling is fun and you definitely know you’re drinking something made in Montana. And the story on the back explaining the vigilante heritage is a nice addition to the overall package.
All in all, this vodka was good considering it’s made with sugercane products. My only complaint comes on the nose, where I’d like to find a little more grain. This is Montana after all. We have enough grain to go around. I’ve always thought this state could produce world-class vodkas, as it shares much in common with the vodka countries of Poland, Russia and Ukraine.