£18 from Marks and Spencer
Vodka of Poland
Flavoured with an extract of the Bison grass blade, the fragrant herb beloved by the European Bison
Bisongrass vodka Premium Zubrovka Vodka of Poland
In Polish it is called Zubrowka but on the bottle its spelt zubrokva. The Polish ‘w’ is pronounced like a ‘v’ so it’s probably just a translation convention as it s bottled in Germany and for the British market so foreigners don’t look like idiots when talking about it and get flak from some pretentious bigot who learnt how to pronounce it just so they could rub it in people’s faces and act as if they are more learned (pronounced learn’ed of course to confirm their pretentiousness). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BBubr%C3%B3wka
What is bison grass? Is it actually grass? No. It’s a herb. Hierochloe odorata or Anthoxanthum nitens, also known as sweet grass, holy grass (UK), manna grass, Mary’s grass, seneca grass or vanilla grass, is an aromatic herb native to northern Eurasia and North America. In Poland it is known as bison grass. It is used in herbal medicine and in the production of distilled beverages(e.g., Żubrówka, Wisent). It owes its distinctive sweet scent to the presence of coumarin. This variety of buffalo is different from the species of grass commonly known as ‘buffalo’ ( ’Stenotaphrum Secundatum ’) in Australia.
On the side of the bottle is a measure of how much is left as if there is some need to be certain of how much you have left. Consumption of another person’s alcohol is a serious matter though I think due to the pale yellow colouration of the fluid and the clear glass of the bottle most people prone to marking the content levels would be satisfied using a marker on the bottle. The bottle is quite unique and no doubt drove up the production costs needlessly compared to other bottles of zubrowka I’ve seen online afterwards.
It has a nice spicy aroma but quite a kick. However I haven’t drunk spirits for a while so my palate may have gone cold turkey in the passage of time. Due to the burning effect I cannot really comment on the taste right now. Its umami. It smells like paint thinner. (At which point I was beginning to come down with a cold and so my taste buds went into ‘closed for the season’ mode.)
… Okay so I return to it after a week with a cold and so give reviewing it another go. Swill it around my mouth. Much nicer. Stings the tip of my tongue. Maybe I have been biting the tip of my tongue recently. I accidentally bit the inside of my cheek a few days ago… I take another break before continuing.
I am later reliably informed by a Polish associate that to truly drink this it is essential to drink it with apple juice:
“Zubrowka MUST be drank with apple juice. These two were meant to be together forever and every Pole knows it, and some Brits know it too now, and you’ve just joined the company. They are like yin&yang, Wales&sheep…”
So using some Tesco 100% pressed apple juice I shall try it this cocktail of flavours to experience zubrowka in it’s truest form!
WOOHOO good stuff! Not in the way that alco-pop and WKD try to completely eliminate the taste of the alcohol but instead this cocktail leaves a remaining ‘sense’ of the wodka’s taste and instead, acceptably, takes away the edge of the ‘burning’ effect when it was served neat. Need to be careful of how much to drink as it is 40% proof. ‘But it goes down so easy?’ you say. No, no, you must temper yourself young stallion for this is the way of the dark side and the first step in becoming a stereotype like the ‘tired and emotional’ Boris Yeltsin who could not get off a plane when stopping over in Ireland in September 1994. Get the buzz, maintain the buzz, but do not give into the temptation of thinking drinking more immediately will indefinitely increase the buzz! Resist becoming so numb you forget yourself.
Of course at this point it is important to note Polish wódka, Russian vodka and Ukrainian horilka are not ‘all interchangeable and basically the same apart from where they were made’. Oh no, no, no… never say that… Not unless you want a lecture about who came up with it first and how the others are just inferior versions of one another (and even then not accounting for the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Czech variants)! That is like saying all Whiskey is the same… well except Jack Daniels which is actually bourbon but got around to being called a whiskey for one reason or another due to Tennessee laws definitions of what whiskey is.
Good stuff but the price is higher than many of the other vodkas on the shelves locally… Likely because it is a ‘premium zubrowka’, the cost of export and it’s unique selling point as ‘bison grass flavoured’ as there are not many other bison grass flavoured vodkas, if any, available at local British supermarkets. Unfortunately this makes it too big an investment for casual consumers, used to paying about half that for vodkas, to risk trying it straight off the shelf without prior knowledge (Unless they are prone to wanting to try random things like myself). It was good to try but there are other things to taste so I shall just chalk it up with the following summary: An interesting taste and worth trying but the next time I go to M&S I won’t be rushing to see if they have it in stock unfortunately (unlike the plum flavoured sake I adored and bought two bottles at a time until they stopped stocking it!). I would definitely try it again though given a chance and if offered it would be very glad to taste it once more… preferably with a good apple juice of course.
On a side note I know that the Oddka brand vodka do a ‘grass flavour’ of their range and had looked at the bottle previously to see if that was bison grass flavour but I don’t remember there being any information regarding it except it was ‘grass flavour’ which was overly vague. Perhaps somewhere down the line I shall try that one and review it as I believe it is only about £8 a bottle since it is British produce.
Vodka of Poland
The Original Polish Vodka-Speciality
Flavoured with the extract of the Bison grass blade, a grass which is particularly valued by the bisons living in the forest of Eastern Poland.
Only genuine with the blade of Bison grass in every bottle, giving Grasovka its unique and spicy aroma.
Produced in Poand.
Bottled in Germany.
Diversa Spezialitäten GmbH, D-47493 Rheinberg
Well I was away for a few days, weeks, whatever… had a cold and work things that needed to be prioritised.
The whole ‘list the information off the packaging’ thing I usually do has been intergrated a bit better in this post, I think, but then many of the past few posts were just to keep the blog going. It seems to be becoming a food and drink review blog unintentionally. Well you know what they say ‘life is what happens while you’re making plans’ and I guess the same applies to blogging too…
An interesting fact I discovered was that Żubrówka is the name of the fictional country in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Next time hopefully some theatre reviews.