Taste test: Vodka made in Scotland
It's not all whisky here
Grafitti 40% £17.86 ●●
Not unlike the other distilled drink for which Scotland is a little more famous, Grafitti plays up the importance of the grain – in this case a high quality soft wheat – and pure natural water, drawn from 200-feet-deep boreholes. A bit chemically on the nose, it has a smooth but fairly straightforward taste, as befits a more classical style of ‘premium’ vodka. It’s unfiltered which gives it a slightly more viscous character.
Pincer 38% £20.29 ●●●●●
Pioneering a new trend of Scottish vodka production is Jonathan Engels, a Glasgow architect who has created a boutique, botanical-style drink in a striking black bottle. Yellowy tinged, the vodka is made from Scottish spring water and infused with extracts of elderflower and milk thistle (a well-known hangover remedy). Despite the mixed messages in that, Pincer is silky smooth and has complex but refreshing herbacaceous notes and a lingering, slightly floral aftertaste.
Glen’s 40% £7.89 ●
Produced from sugar beet at Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse in Ayrshire, this may not be the most prestigious of Scotland’s homegrown drinks, but it is the second highest selling vodka in the UK. More vodka than whisky is consumed in Scotland each year, after all. With nothing on the nose and little to taste other than a sour aftertaste, this is the one you’re most likely to mask with a mixer.
Blackwood’s 40% £18.28 ●●●
Made on mainland Scotland with water from Shetland but inspired by Nordic traditions, this has the smoothness of a premium brand and could certainly be served straight if chilled (handily, the sails on the bottle’s label turn red below 5 degrees). It has a distinctive taste with aniseed the most prominent of the discernible flavours, and with the right mixer is certainly capable of producing a cocktail with personality.
Straight Strawberry 25% ●●●
In a tall, elegant bottle and rosé coloured, this is the product of an innovative Caithness cottage industry. Using Scottish vodka infused with Elsanta strawberries grown by surrounding farms, the flavour is clean, fresh and soft, but undoubtedly will be too sweet for some. A summery affair that might be classed as a dessert vodka, it was a winner in the Drinks category of the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards this year.
Raspberry Vodka 22% £3.40 per 100ml ●●●●
Another vodka flavoured with premium Scottish soft fruit, this product of East Lothian is available in attractively shaped gift bottles from Demijohn liquid deli in Edinburgh and Glasgow. While there’s a clean, unmistakeable raspberry flavour, this one isn’t as sweet, giving it a bit more depth and interest once you’ve got past the obvious – and not unpleasant – initial taste of cough syrup. Useful for a raspberry vodka martini or to give a wee kick to champagne.