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VinePair : Vodka and Vanilla Cheesecake

If your first thought of a vodka tasting is cringe-worthy – I hope you’ll reconsider after reading this. Last week I was invited to a Belvedere tasting of their two newest vodka offerings paired with dinner at ‘The Joinery’. Their latest adventure brings you ‘Smogory Forest’ and ‘Lake Bartezek’ – two ideas stemmed off utilizing rye from different regions to create different and distinct flavors.

This concept has been prevalent in wine for years: using grapes from multiple vineyards or plot locations help to create a variety of flavors. Belvedere proved the same technique can translate through vodka as well.

‘Lake Bartezek’ is made by utilizing rye from Northern Poland in a village named Bartezek (non-coincidentally). The aroma is crisp and neat and has a nice floral note to ease off the boldness of straight alcohol. The first sip went down smoother than any of us expected and you saw this across the table as everyone nodded in approval .

Their other offering, ‘Smogory Forest’, uses rye grown from West Poland in a village called Smogory that borders a forest. Our host described the aroma as “sea breeze”, but I picked up on the pepper immediately. From a taste perspective, it was a little harder to get through than the first but got easier after the first sip. I’d argue this was different for everyone, given the lady next to me chugged it back without any hesitation.

Most importantly, I wanted to highlight the dessert course (because naturally I was most excited for this). Cheesecake happens to be one of my top 5 things I don’t ever want to live without in terms of sweets. We were moved from the main dining table of about fifty people to another room upstairs with rows of chocolate martinis waiting for us. Vanilla bean cheesecakes were set out and covered with berries, a cherry compote, and Chantilly cream. I’d argue that Chantilly cream is basically whipped cream, but the texture is a bit fluffier and contains vanilla or other flavorings (standard whipped cream is just heavy cream/sugar). They also had homemade vanilla ice cream which is the only time I’d vote vanilla over chocolate. They followed these both with White Russians and Irish Coffees. All of the above made for a delicious ending to an already amazing experience.

Footnotes

- Lake Bartezek won the Chairman’s Trophy Winner in the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

- Smogory Forest was the Gold Medal Winner of the 2018 International Spirits Challenge.

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