Today I have to start with a confession that will probably surprise some but then again not too many people as I do not stand alone with my opinion across the cocktail and bar scene: I do not think very highly of vodka and I am also using it only on very few occasions. Nonetheless, I must also admit that I am no vodka expert but perhaps I know just enough about it to be able to issue a judgment about certain brands. Anyway, I consider vodka to be rather uninteresting. Nevertheless, today’s article is about a vodka which I recently became aware of and which really interests me.
Well, I may have to backpedal a little bit here because it would definitely be presumptuous to ignore vodka totally or to stamp it as a bad spirit – I wouldn’t go that far. After all, vodka has played a major role in the history of the cocktails (although a little later than other spirits – but it has been a milestone in history, for example in the context of the Moscow Mule) and from the second half of the 20th century onwards it became more and more popular throughout the USA in also in many other countries. Of course it already played a big role in the Russian cultural sphere and also in Scandinavian countries, but for a long time it had nothing to do with cocktails in those areas of the world. And, of course Vodka Martinis, Cosmopolitans and all the other famous cocktails have an absolute right to exist and can be a real joy.
But the maxim of “purer, softer, tasteless!” has, however, never really appealed to me. Well, it is not uncontroversial either because connoisseurs find a lot more in a good vodka than just “nothing”, but compared to other spirits you simply have to consider a different assessment scale which is not always easy for me. Nevertheless I was curious about today’s vodka with good reason: It was recommended to me on the one hand, the product design is very appealing to me and at last I really had the wish for a long time to write about a good vodka here, despite my introductory words. So let’s get on with it!
The Bénazet Vodka is first and foremost a liquid tribute to two entrepreneurs whose history took place especially in the 19th century in Baden-Baden. Jacques Bénazet and his son Edouard Bénazet originally came from the south of France to the city of Baden-Baden in the German federate state of Baden-Württemberg and greatly impressed the people with their visions and successful investment deals. They took over the “Konversationshaus” (today: Casino Baden-Baden) in the Kurhaus Baden-Baden and successively pushed the attractiveness and the cosmopolitan spirit of the city to new heights. Even today their work in Baden-Baden is omnipresent, institutions such as the theater, “Galopprennbahn” (galloping track) and “Trinkhalle” (drinking hall) go back to the Bénazets.
In order to build the two another liquid monument, Bénazet vodka was launched by the company of the same name (Bénazet GmbH), focusing on a fusion of French and regional products. The manufacturer gives some very sounding information about this fusion which I have translated into English:
“… taken from the purest Schwarzwald spring water from the Renchtal and first-class winter wheat from France, the home of the Bénazets. Its noble taste is characterized by the character of the chalk of the Champagne, the Jurassic Argonne forests and the rough Devonian slate plateaus of the Ardennes.”
That sounds very appealing, of course, although I was honestly curious at this point, what this actually means in terms of sensorial attributes. For while the description here is almost animated by romantic word melodies, I could not really imagine what that would taste like. I will also present a signature cocktail, the Bénazet Fizz, in the next few days but now it is time to take a look at the tasting notes. Before I forget to mention it: the Bénazet Vodka is bottled with 37,5% vol.
Aroma: Pleasantly mild with not a trace of sharp alcohol and a creamy element as from slightly sweetened clotted cream. There is also a fine wheat note.
Taste: The Bénazet Vodka is also pleasantly mild on the palate with a subtle, creamy note, reminiscent of dairy desserts. A very fine and subtle sweetness blends with bright cereal notes.
Finish: medium long and creamy
The tasting really surprised me. Of course I knew that I will have to deal with a very subtle taste and aroma here which is what a vodka drinker is looking for, but ultimately the Bénazet Vodka absolutely convinced me with its classiness. Although now I won’t defect to the side of vodka enthusiasts and largely replace my gin by vodka, but within my expectations of a good Vodka this product here really cuts a fine figure.
Buying sources: Selected retailers will probably have this vodka in stock. Further information can be obtained by request at the manufacturer’s website.