Are you confused over infused vodka and flavored vodka? That’s probably because they can either be very similar or completely different. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the good old boys down at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau don’t define either one, and they don’t even hold distillers to any set of standards.
Infused usually means that the vodka has been steeped with real fruit, spices, and nuts and left to absorb the flavors. From a pure marketing point of view, Infused also sounds more natural than flavored. Flavored vodka on the other hand can mean the vodka was either steeped with some real ingredients and/or flavored with extracts or other chemicals to mimic targeted flavors.
Infuse Vodka does it the old fashioned way and imports their oranges and apples and cloves and cinnamon and other fruits and spices from top growers and lets them steep in their corn based, gluten free, Kansas vodka. The bottles are simply beautiful. They are oval and tall and feature an artistic and modernistic tree growing up the right side of the bottle. There is also a signed strip of paper at the bottom front of the bottles that guarantees that each bottle contains all natural small batch vodka with real fruit. And the piece de resistance is, of course, the fruit slices and peels floating freely inside each bottle. It is simply a very nice and very appealing presentation. So now, let’s get into those bottles and see what they taste like.
The first one up is the lemon infusion with real lemon peels floating in the vodka. The nose is very lemony and citrusy and acutely sharp just like a real lemon would smell. There’s also a sweetness that reminds me of lemon pie, yet there are no ethanol vapors getting in the way. The palate is smooth and citrusy, tart and a bit sweet, and I can fully appreciate the lemon zest flavor that comes through very distinctly. It’s almost like sucking on an actual lemon but without all that puckering up. The vodka flavor takes a smooth back seat to all those up front flavors yet makes its presence felt without overpowering. The finish is, of course, smooth and lemony and sweet, and this is where the vodka finally comes center stage; it is very well made and goes down delightfully. The finish is short and sweet leaving just the slightest of tingles. This is really one delightful lemon infused vodka that can be consumed straight up and also makes one hell of a martini.
Next up is the Infuse Vodka Orange Clove. I do believe the nose leans a bit towards the clove but is firmly backed up by the orange and the whole thing comes together like a great Christmas ham, with no ethanol vapors getting in the way. There is also a tart, citrusy sweetness. The palate is warm and sugary, with the cloves and oranges playing nicely together and nobody fighting to get up front. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the cloves and oranges combination, but I have to admit that it works very well. The finish is again short but sweet and citrusy, with the vodka taste making a strong finish but not too strong. It leaves behind a pleasant taste with a slight tingle. This Orange Clove infusion is certainly sweet but not as sweet as the previous lemon infusion. They are both quite nice.
And last, but I’m sure not least, is the Cinnamon Apple infusion. Damn if this nose isn’t just about the best apple pie I have ever smelled. No kidding. The cinnamon comes in first, quickly followed by baked apples and just the right amount of sugar, with absolutely no ethanol vapors getting in the way. On the palate, it acts almost like an apple liqueur, with a strong apple and alcohol taste, followed gently by the cinnamon. It is smooth, sweet and slightly tart, and just a bit smoky. The finish is tart and smooth and leaves an apple pie crust taste in the mouth that doesn’t last too long. I swear you could make a Christmas dinner from the orange clove infusion, followed by a desert of cinnamon apple infusion and just skip the food altogether.
Depending on where you look, you can find Infuse Vodka in 750ML bottles for anywhere from $22.99 up to the high $20’s and they all weigh in at 40% ABV. That, by the way, is a great price point for a super-premium vodka.
By George Brozowski