Five years ago, when I first tasted Van Gogh Cool Peach and Dark Chocolate, the good folks at the Royal Dirkzwager Distilleries just had a handful of flavored vodkas. Today, they have over twenty, and there just seems to be no end to where they are headed next. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined the need for PB&J flavored vodka or Mojito Mint, but apparently, they did. So what’s next, salami flavored vodka?
Being of Polish descent, I am supposed to be prejudiced towards Polish vodkas, and don’t get me wrong, there are some mighty fine Polish and even Russian vodkas out there; after all, they are the ones who started it all. Well, depending on whom you’re arguing with and how many shots of vodka you’ve had, Russians will claim they distilled vodka first, while the Polish also claim to be the first. Who really did it first is obscured by the ages, but in the long run, it really doesn’t matter because today you can get great vodka from virtually every corner of the globe. Van Gogh vodka comes from Holland; France makes some darn fine vodkas as well, and you can even get great vodka from Austin, Texas and Dayton, Ohio – go figure.
The one thing every distiller seems to do that I really don’t understand is lowering the proof of their vodkas when they flavor them. Unflavored Van Gogh Vodka is 80 proof while all their flavored vodkas come in at 70 proof. At any rate, they’ve all been pretty tasty, and the different proof levels are hardly noticeable. I really liked the Peach and Dark Chocolate and loved the unflavored vodka, so I have high hopes for their Pomegranate and Dutch Chocolate; let’s get to it.
Let’s start with the Pomegranate vodka. This vodka is the red color of a pomegranate that only FD&C red #40 can provide as stated right on the bottle. It actually has a milky red coloring that really looks like pomegranate juice. The nose certainly is reminiscent of pomegranates, as well as strawberries and oranges and even has a hint of caramel, although not a trace of alcohol. On the palate, the pomegranate flavor takes center stage, followed closely by the orange. Interestingly enough, it is also quite tart with just enough sweetness to balance out that taste quite nicely. At first, I get the tartness and then right behind that comes the sweetness, almost in lock step. It is also very smooth with just the slightest bit of spiciness. The finish is short but fruity and sweet and sour, with a trace of a tingle in the throat. I like this pomegranate vodka and can imagine using it in quite a few mixed drinks where I believe it would play nice with the other ingredients without getting lost and not overpowering the other players. By the way, it makes for an interesting martini as well.
Hey, Master Distiller Tim Vos, if you’re looking for your next Van Gogh flavor I would like to recommend sour apple, as that is one of my all time favorite vodka martinis.
Next up is the Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate, which is uncommonly transparent in the bottle much like their unflavored vodka. I was rather expecting something of a brownish color at the very least, but let’s soldier on! In the snifter, the color becomes a pale yellow, but all that color nonsense quickly disappears as I get my first smell of this vodka. My nose is filled with the wonderful aromas of cocoa, vanilla, coffee, and caramel, and dare I say, chocolate covered pretzels of all things. I get absolutely no alcohol vapors, and more than being ready to sip this vodka, I am ready to bite into it. It is beautifully thick and oily on the palate, and the chocolate is very discernible followed subtly by the caramel and coffee. It is very smooth with no bite, no bitterness, no sting much like a good piece of chocolate should be. The finish is just as enjoyable and it truly feels like I had just bitten into a piece of fine chocolate. The finish only lasts a short while, but that’s good enough reason to take another sip and start the whole process all over again. I swear, I could honestly have a Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate martini instead of a piece of chocolate cake for dessert after a fine dinner and not miss the cake one single bit.
These vodkas are both 70 proof and available in 750ML bottles for between $24.99 and $27.99
By George Brozowski