To kick off our blog, I thought I’d start with what appears to be something of a staple in my newfound home in the midwest: Kamchatka Vodka. Truth be told, seeing this bottle on the shelf at Big Lots gave me the idea for this blog in the first place. $4.00 for a 750mL bottle of Vodka? What’s the catch?
Well – to find the catch, I had to do a bit of research. Such as reading the front of the bottle. 42 proof vodka? Doesn’t that seem a little weak?
Well, it does, and it is (more on that later.) As it turns out, Kamchatka (the company) is owned by Beam Inc. Yes, as in Jim Beam. Kamchatka, despite it’s Russian-sounding name, is actually manufactured in the great state of Kentucky, USA. Go ‘Murica!
If it wasn’t obvious that Beam Inc. doesn’t want anyone relating this product with their company by the fact that the word “Beam” appears nowhere on the packaging, it becomes fairly obvious once you start doing some web searching. Even the Beam Inc. wikipedia page doesn’t mention Kamchatka! In fact, the only “official endorsement” that I could find by Beam Inc is this entry on their website celebrating it as the “Top-Selling Brand in the Midwestern US!” Some further research answered the question of the vodka’s low ABV rating. As it turns out, in mid-2012, Beam Inc started blending Kamchatka Vodka with non-flavored liqueur in order to “[…] leverage our scale and agility to enhance these value-for-money brands.” If somebody could explain that in English, I’d love to hear from them. It also appears to explain the word “diluted” on the bottle (which at first glance, I thought said “distilled”. Guess I should get my eyes checked again.)
So anyway – enough history – WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Well…kind of like a vodka that’s been diluted with non-flavored liqueur.
Initial nose is not very present. The small reminds me of a jello shot or a nearly-frozen vodka (the bottle was kept at room temperature for testing.) Looking at it, it was very clear, however it seemed to be slightly viscous compared to other vodkas I’d had experience with. Perhaps this is because of the liqueur content?
Shot – Incredibly smooth. Very little bite, and little-to-no aftertaste. Probably the easiest shot I’ve ever done, especially without flavoring.
Rocks – Because I was out of ice, I used whiskey stones to cool the vodka. The cold improved the “sweetness” of the vodka, almost masking any alcohol content. The smell of the drink is still very weak, however as it warms to room temperature, the strength and “bite” that the vodka DOES have quickly returns. The amazing thing about this drink is how little it tastes like vodka, or alcohol at all.
Mixed Drink – I did a 50/50 mix with cold root beer, and any sensation of alcohol being in my drink vanished. I might as well have been drinking root beer alone for all the impact the vodka made on the flavor. I actually forgot that I was drinking an alcoholic beverage and gulped it down rather quickly (before I remembered to even take a picture of the mixed drink!.
Aftereffects – Without going into too much detail, intoxication occurred. It seemed to set on me very quickly, which is likely due to the fact that I ended up drinking the whole bottle, just because I was close. All-in-all, not a great decision, and I think my wife would agree. I didn’t notice a hangover the next day, but then again I haven’t had a hangover since Graduate School.
Final Notes – If I were back in college and making hunch punch or jello shots – this would be my go-to liquor. It’s fairly weak flavoring makes it ideal as a base for mixed drinks or shots. Do not be fooled by the low-proof though – this vodka WILL knock you on your ass, take your keys and your wallet, and slap you around a bit just for fun. All-in-all, $4 isn’t too much to spend for the kind of night you normally have to go to Vegas for.
The Bottom Line
Pros: Sweet, smooth, stronger than it appears at first glance
Cons: Sweet (it IS marketed as a vodka after all)