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Issue: March 2011
The Composing of a New Collection

by: Rachel Burkons
Potato Pride

As vodka became the “it” spirit category of the 1990s, consumers in the U.S. were introduced to one brand that encouraged them to think differently about what they were drinking. Chopin emerged as the first luxury vodka in the world, with a commitment to the highest quality product and taste, and rather than being mindlessly mixed (and masked) in mediocre cocktails, Chopin encouraged mixologists and consumers alike to take—and taste—vodka seriously.

“One way that we like to promote our vodka is straight, whenever possible,” explains Dana Chandler, VP/General Manger of Chopin Imports, who knows that the best way to experience Chopin’s extreme smoothness and richness of flavor is to encounter the spirit in its purest form. From there, it’s easy to fall in love with Chopin’s creamy, full-bodied green apple and vanilla notes, a complex flavor profile that bursts forth from one single ingredient.

Hand-crafted and four-times distilled from potatoes grown in Poland’s Podlasie region, Chopin’s pure potato-ness has won fans on the merits of its gluten- and carb-free character, but it takes more than just a great base ingredient to roll out a symphony of spirited flavors—hard work, and hands-on attention to detail are the real magic behind Chopin’s famed potatoes.


 
Chopin Vodka owner Tad Dorda displays the new Chopin Rye bottle, which, like its potato predecessor, bears the image of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, the brand’s namesake. Frédéric’s famed piano melodies are smooth and artfully balanced—not unlike the vodka that honors the tradition of Poland’s prodigal son.
The Polish Connection


“We’re like a small boutique winery,” opines Chopin’s owner, Tad Dorda, who calls THE TASTING PANEL from Poland. “We make small-batch vodka, and we do it all right here,” continues Dorda, referencing the town of Polmos Siedlce, 60 miles east of Warsaw, where every aspect of Chopin comes to life, from potato to bottle.

“We buy the best Podlasie potatoes we can, not normal, edible potatoes,” explains Dorda, who also mentions that the distillery’s proximity to the potato-growing fields aids in ensuring the highest-quality spirit. “The potatoes are delivered in the morning and processed by the end of the day, so it is always very fresh.”

Chandler echoes Dorda’s artisanal sentiment, while also pointing out a key difference between Chopin and other vodkas on the market. “Most large producers are merely rectifiers,” he claims. “They buy the alcohol on the open market and bring it to a factory or distillery, where they will filter or bottle it. We’re more like an estate winery; we maintain control over every aspect of production all the way to bottling, leaving us with a hand-made luxury product.”
Hands-on attention, small-batch distilling and the freshest and best potatoes have set the stage for Chopin’s success, but that is only half of the Chopin story. With a commitment to freshness in mind, Chopin is a seasonal producer, with potato vodka production only taking place from late August to mid-December, at which point the Chopin team switches gears and begins to produce a second single-ingredient vodka, sourced entirely from the finest golden rye in the Podlasie region and made according to Chopin’s nothing-but-the-best standards.


The C.E.O. (Chopin Extra Olives) cocktail is an easy platform to explore the differences between Chopin’s potato and rye expressions.
A Rye-volution


Long available in Poland, spring of 2011 will see Chopin Red—the brand’s rye expression—roll out across the U.S., finally giving consumers a second helping of Chopin’s single-ingredient luxury. With abundant rye dough notes, a silky body and a short, clean finish, Chopin Red presents a completely different Chopin experience without sacrificing the brand’s signature quality.

New to mixologists and consumers alike, Chopin Red offers an opportunity to ignite a new love affair between a trusted brand and the palates that already love it. “We encourage bartenders to play with both the classic Chopin, as well as the rye,” says Chandler, who is partial to the simplicity of the C.E.O. cocktail, short for Chopin Extra Olives. “When you have one of each, you can really taste the differences between the potato and rye vodkas.”

Although the Chopin rye is just now finding its way onto U.S. back bars, Dorda and Chandler have their eyes firmly focused on the future. “The ultimate goal is to create a single-ingredient collection,” admits Dorda after some gentle prodding. He won’t divulge which ingredient will get the Chopin treatment next, but there mere thought of Chopin continuing to grow its luxury vodka oeuvre is music to our ears.


Rye Goes Red Carpet

Although Chopin Rye didn’t hit shelves until this month, VIP guests in Southern California got a preview in late January at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Chopin, a true labor of love produced in small-batches and diligently crafted, was a perfect fit for the festival, where some of the most talented filmmakers in the world gathered to display their work. “We are delighted to introduce Chopin Rye to the U.S. in the midst of a tribute to artistic achievement,” said brand owner Tad Dorda, a vodka maestro in his own right.

 

The C.E.O. (Chopin Extra Olives) cocktail is an easy platform to explore the differences between Chopin’s potato and rye expressions.


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