Oval – Structured Vodka

August 20 2012 - 12:45 PM

Oval I read about structured vodka online a few weeks ago. It sounded good…a reknowned homeopathic scientist, Valery Sorokin, has determined a way to build vodka where the alcohol is surrounded by water. This results in “the soft clean taste of pure water” as the first thing you taste.

I love the idea. The more I read the better it sounds. The process has been reinterpreted by this guy who is not only a nuclear physicist, but he spends his day job as the Deputy Director of GEOSCAN, an agency that monitors global disasters and crises… this man is like a Tom Clancy character who, on the side, is out to save vodka.

Now let me say that I felt the pricepoint, packaging, uniqueness of the message and the scientific explanation of the product are all compelling. So much so that my semi-blind tasting pitts it against Belvedere and Chopin… two steady super-premium favorites. I would like to have included Ketel One and Finlandia, the former as a frame of reference as it’s my martini vodka and the latter as a stellar vodka that sits just below top-shelf, in my opinion. But since I don’t have a cabinet filled with vodka, I’m making do… and frankly three vodkas are enough for my tasting purposes. I did leave out my flavored Skyy and my homemade flavored vodkas.

Bring it on! Chopin is potato vodka, Belvedere is rye and Oval is grain. I’m not sure which grain. The two Polish vodkas are 80 proof while the Austrian Oval is 84 proof. It has something to do with the structuring. It only works at 48, 84 and 112 proofs. While Oval is an award-winning vodka, it’s for the design of the packaging, not the flavor.

The first sip of a vodka should be soft but not like water… I don’t know if I buy the word ‘soft’ quite that way. It’s a far more ‘neutral’ sensation than soft. It gives way to the initial ‘alcohol’ bite that all vodkas have. That bite comes so quick that non-vodka drinkers do miss that initial flat feel. Oval has more bite than the other two. Belvedere has the least. It’s pertinent to note that vodka drinkers appreciate that bite, and the extreme softness the super-premiums tend to go after is not always desired.

I feel that, especially when mixed, vodka presence is demanded. Which might be while I do like Ketel One with a twist. The finish is the other big telling area for vodka, but the time in between is what initially gave me pause with Oval. It stays bigger on your palate than the other two. It’s sweeter and has a nice rich character that leads to a bigger finish. It is a bit higher on the percentage so it might mean some spice in the throat, but really not much. I will try this alongside Finlandia and Ketel later to see how different it might be. Keep in mind that, while it’s a higher price than Finlandia, I do consider Fin to taste beyond where it prices out.

Expecting Oval to be as soft and delicate as Belvedere is going to disappoint. But for a fuller experience it delivers. Going back to it I find myself appreciating it’s sweetness, spice and bigger finish. Going back to Chopin I am amazed at how mild it is.

These tastes are all straight. One reason I don’t order either of these super-premiums in cocktails is that I find they get lost. I also enjoy the mix of tonic with a fuller vodka. Oval would be a welome mixer. I’m out to get a bottle of Ketel… next up a head-to-head martini contest. I might have a new favorite martini vodka. I should invite some friends over.