Spirits of the Tsars is a vodka like no other. It is an exercise in opulence – a vodka fit for presentation to a Tsar, for certain. From a 500 year old recipe, this vodka, produced in the Ukraine, is infused with fruits, vanilla, and caramelized sugar then aged in oak cognac barrels for three years, giving it a caramel color. There will only be 10,000 cases made per year. The bottle itself, produced in France, is a reflection of the craftsmanship in the vodka. The logo (representing a Faberge egg with a ghostly image of Tsar Nicholas), along with the Romanov Family Crest, are a 24-carat gold veneer. Even the cork was hand-picked.
In the presentation set, you’ll find the gorgeous replica of Tsar Nicholas’ vodka glass created in the same factory that his glasses were created 112 years ago. It’s etched with ornate patterns and is marvelous to hold. The caramel colored vodka glistens in the glass, giving it an unparalleled beauty. It’s almost a sin to drink it.
Do I have your attention?
This is not a vodka meant for the likes of me. This is a vodka meant for the elite; the bourgeoisie, if you like. Expect to find it at high end resorts, casinos, and yacht clubs, not at your local liquor store. But, I’m fortunate enough to have been gifted a sample. I can’t verify the veracity of the details above, but I certainly don’t doubt them. I was crawling with excitement to open this bottle. All of the above is for naught if the vodka doesn’t live up to the image it presents.
Luckily, Spirits of the Tsars is, in a word, magnificent. The nose is sweet, like caramel with a touch of whisky. Just the smell is intoxicating enough, but the flavor is outstanding. In the mouth, the familiar taste of vodka isn’t present. Instead, it’s an explosion of flavors: sweet vanilla and a mild whisky. On the swallow, there is a distinctive hint of vodka that passes in an instant and is replaced with a wonderful vanilla aftertaste. It’s completely smooth, and I only want to follow the pleasant warmth in my stomach with another sip. If this is what vodka was like 500 years ago, I was born in the wrong century. Spirits of the Tsars is not your typical vodka, but it’s easily the most sippable vodka I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste.
The people behind Spirits of the Tsars are working on cocktails they call Tsartinis. Maybe they are coming up with something outstanding, but, with my poor mixology skills, I couldn’t imagine mixing this vodka with anything. It would be a transgression to sully this vodka with the concoctions of mere mortals. I couldn’t waste a drop of this vodka on any experimentation. So, I didn’t.
Instead I spent several weeks sipping this vodka. It’s as versatile as a fine wine, and that’s why it’s going to do well with its target demographic. Sipping this vodka with a filet mignon would be to die for. I had it with a standard chuck eye and I was left wishing it’d never end. I’ve never had a vodka that improved the taste of food, and I don’t expect I ever will again.
I shared Spirits of the Tsars with one lucky friend that I knew would really appreciate it for what it is. Over conversations about Russian aristocracy, he summed up the experience of drinking Spirits of the Tsars in the most succinct sentence: It tastes like the nectar from an alien planet.
As I near the bottom of the bottle of this peerless vodka, I’m left only with want for more. Spirits of the Tsars is a truly unique spirit. It’s something to experience rather than something to consume. If you’re one of the fortunate few that have access to this vodka, you need to try it. Even if you don’t like vodka, you’d be remiss not to. It exceeds every expectation I had. Spirits of the Tsars may be the best liquor ever made.