King Sobieski of Poland could be a very distant unrelated relative of mine. After all, my family comes from Poland, and my last name also ends in “ski,” so we do have a lot in common.  And besides, vodka just happens to be one of my favorite drinks so that deepens the connection even further.  On the other hand I could pay one of those ancestry sites a bunch of money and they would inconclusively probably prove I was the illegitimate bastard son of King Sobieski’s 7th mistress and unrightful heir to his throne and vodka. Oh well, I guess I’ll just drink this vodka before Bruce Willis comes by and punches me out.  Yup, Bruce is the spokesperson for Sobieski, go figure; it’s really a small die hard world after all. Maybe I’m really related to Bruce – yeah right, I’m barely related to my own parents.

Sobieski Flavored Vodkas

Holy cow, this stuff is only around $11.00 per bottle, yet it’s made from Dankowski Rye and continuously distilled in a column still to provide maximum smoothness.  The flavored vodkas are a bit light on the alcohol at 70 proof, but it should still get the job done.  The Cytron or citrus flavored vodka has a very thick yet zesty nose. These lemons must be picked for their thick oily skins.  There’s more of a bass note to the nose rather than a high note.  On the palate, it turns right around and presents the fresh high note first and then is followed by the oily bass.  It coats the tongue uniformly while supplying a stimulating yet smooth lemony tingle.  The finish is medium with the brightness of the lemon zest lingering with no alcohol residue.  It is very smooth and slightly sweet and yet crisp. On the rocks, the crispness of the lemon takes a giant step forward, and it tastes just like the glass had been rimmed by a lemon peel. This vodka makes a pretty darned good martini with a twist, even without the actual twist.  This is definitely vodka that can compete with the big super premium players and at just a fraction of their cost and yet with all of the taste.

Next up is the Toasted Coconut vodka; the nose is spot on coconut with a bit of vanilla and almond toast in the back with very little alcohol. It is very clean and distinctly coco nutty.  On the palate, the coconut remains forward and quite sweet and a bit toasty while stalked in the shadows by the vanilla and almond flavors.  The finish is medium in duration leaving a nice taste of coconut behind.  On the rocks, all the flavors seem to coalesce harmoniously leaving muted flavors of coconut and vanilla and almond swimming together in unison.  This also makes for an interesting martini featuring subtle flavors with a really laid back approach.  Again, for the price it’s a tasty bargain.

OK, up next is the Sobieski Black Cherry.  The nose is very black cherry like with a touch of citrus and almost no alcohol.  On the palate, the black cherry comes forward considerably and is medium in body and a bit oily but pleasant and smooth. The citrus then vanishes completely and is replaced by a faint amaretto taste.  The flavor is neither overwhelming nor underwhelming and just about right and nicely balanced with the vodka.  The finish is smooth and fruity and leaves an aftertaste most closely resembling chocolate covered cherries.  On the rocks, the palate definitely leans in the direction of chocolate and cherries but continues its balancing act without losing a step.  This might really make a nice dessert drink replacing a mild port. 

Speaking of dessert drinks, up next is the lemon meringue flavored Sobieski vodka.  For the life of me, I can’t imagine what would have possessed these normally sane Polish distillers to produce this insane flavor but here goes!  The nose directly from the bottle is like a cakey, doughey Polish doughnut (paczki) that might be hiding a lemony filling.  It immediately does a one eighty when poured into a snifter and completely transforms into a sort of citrusy, lemony pudding with barely any trace of cake or dough or crust.  On the palate, the first impression is one of sugar followed by a trace of citrus but not piquant like lemon but rather more thick and oily like orange.  If I concentrate on the flavors, I finally get a touch of dough.  I suppose if you really gave it a whole lot of time, effort and concentration you might convince yourself that this tastes like lemon meringue, but it would take a whole lot of time, effort and concentration.  On the rocks, it’s all citrus flavors with not even a hint of dough or cake followed by a sugary back. In either case the finish is medium in length, sweet, citrusy and smooth.

Well, I saved what I assumed could be the ultimate dessert vodka of the bunch for last but certainly not the least – the Karamel flavored Sobieski vodka.  The nose certainly has caramel up front followed by coffee and nougat and is thick and creamy with just a bit of alcohol bringing up the rear.  On the palate, it tastes like melting caramel with a touch of chocolate and coffee with the vodka ending the flavor profile with a touch of tingle.  I’ll be damned; this stuff actually tastes a lot like a creamy caramel, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why I would want my vodka to taste like this, but full steam ahead anyway.  Go figure, on the rocks it tastes just the same but a bit toned down.  The finish makes me feel like I had just finished a couple of caramel bites and not drank vodka.

In summary, if that’s possible with such a diverse batch of flavored vodkas, I just might add the Cytron, Toasted Coconut and Black Cherry to my bar, but I would go out and buy a Lemon Meringue pie from my local baker if that urge ever struck me and accompany it with a few shots of straight up Sobieski vodka.  I can’t even figure out what in the hell I would do with caramel flavored vodka, even good caramel flavored vodka, so I’ll leave that one open to you for suggestions. Either way there’s still a lot to enjoy here; go mix it up.

By George Brozowski