Packaging, packaging, packaging – that’s the key to quirky marketing success in the spirits industry not unlike it is location, location, location in real estate. When I pulled the bottle of Medea vodka out of the box, I beheld the first programmable vodka bottle in the world. Yes, programmable, like in computerized. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.
This stuff got me to thinking, and the question it posed is: what is the most expensive vodka and why? Super premiums of all sorts range from $30.00 to $40.00, but that is really just the starting point for the insanity. Weighing in at $100.00 per bottle is Diaka, a Polish vodka, that comes in a Swarovski crystal- encrusted bottle and the vodka is filtered through 100 diamonds some of which weigh in at a carat each. Now, I believe diamonds are the hardest things on the planet, so I am at a total loss as to how they might filter anything but that’s over the top marketing for sure.
Seriously upping the ante is Diva Vodka that can set you back anywhere from $60 to $1.6 million – yes, million. You see, each bottle of Diva Vodka contains a tube filled with 48 expensive crystals that can be used as a garnish or fished out and possibly turned into jewelry. The crystals include: cubic zircon, smoky topaz, pink tourmaline, amethyst, citrine and peridot and go right up to diamonds. The unique combination of crystals defines the price of each bottle.
In my opinion, the winner of this outrageous contest is Russo-Baltique Vodka from Russia, which can be yours for a mere $1,300,000.00 per bottle. Nearly all of this vodka’s value is in the packaging. The flask, a replica of the radiator guard used for the Russo-Baltique cars, is made from gold coins minted between 1908 and 1912 and melted down and weighs in at nearly 20 pounds of pure gold. Those dates commemorate the time the company manufactured its first car. The flask cap is made from white and yellow gold and contains a diamond-encrusted replica of the Russian Imperial Eagle. The bottle is encased in bulletproof glass 30 centimeters thick, so not a single precious drop will escape. And included at that price, absolutely for free, is the Dartz Prombron SUV touted to be one of the fastest multi-terrain armored vehicles in the world. It features parts made by General Motors and has a whopping 8.1 liter engine under the hood and it is seriously ugly and over the top. Now, that’s marketing!!!!!
But back to the beautiful, computerized Medea vodka bottle, which at between $30-40 is starting to look like a relative steal. I have to admit, I am a nerd and a geek at heart and love all things computerized. Having worked in Silicon Valley for over 10 years and through several start-ups, I am a fanatic fan boy of this stuff. I run a high end gaming rig at home with two 32” 3D HDTV’s for monitors and still thoroughly enjoy run and gun video games, so this was right up my alley. When you press a button on the side of the neon blue label it reveals a scrolling screen with lit up neon letters and words going by touting the message you have programmed into the sign. There are multiple lines available and you can insert your name, a friend’s name, or any message you like and I do mean any message you like. It’s like standing in Times Square at night and looking up at the flashing signs, way cool and totally over the top. I have never seen anything like it before.
I almost hate to open the sucker up, but that’s my job, so I did. This is a true neutral grain spirit. The nose is quiet with no alcohol aromas upfront and really no discernible smells of any kind. It’s not watery or thin but presented with maybe a very slight, yet pleasant, earthy smell and gave the impression of having a firm body. Again very neutral in the mouth, with a good mouth feel and no bite and a vague hint of sweetness but so vague that it seemed to be playing hide and seek. Straight up upon swallowing it leaves a tingling sensation in the back of my throat, but again so mild that I wouldn’t really call it peppery or spicy, just tingly. That tingle subsides very quickly, inducing me to repeat the experiment and enjoy the whole process over and over until I finally poured some over the rocks. It really opens up and is just a pure pleasure to sip. It’s unbelievably smooth with a wonderful mouth feel and its neutrality is very inviting. On top of that you get to play with the bottle and let it entertain you. You definitely get your money’s worth with Medea vodka.
By George Brozowski