November 2011

Music for the Palate

By: Robert Plotkin

While other brands come and go, Chopin Polish Vodka has been permanently affixed atop the category since its debut in the United States in 1997. Nearly 15 years is a long time to remain a bestseller. Dana Chandler, Vice President and General Manager of Chopin Imports Ltd., knows why: “Many luxury vodka brands purchase alcohol from commercial producers and then redistill or rectify it. Not so for Chopin. We control every step of its production, which is the only way we can guarantee the best tasting, highest quality spirit. And that we do.”

The Chopin distillery

The super-premium brand has recently expanded its franchise with the debut of two extraordinary single-ingredient vodkas—Chopin Wheat and Chopin Rye. Like the brand’s potato vodka, each is a museum-grade spirit crafted in the centuries-old Polish tradition.

Chopin is made on a 17-acre estate in the countryside of the Podlasie region in eastern Poland. The newest release—Chopin Wheat Vodka—is distilled four times in a copper column still from naturally grown winter wheat and water drawn from deep underground wells. The vodka is filtered five times to ensure essential purity prior to being bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof). Every step of production is scrutinized by Master Distiller Waldemar Durakiewicz, who pioneered the luxury vodka category in 1993 and whose signature is on every bottle.

Chopin Wheat possesses all of the hallmarks of greatness. It has crystalline clarity, a lightweight, satin-textured body and the wafting aroma of freshly baked bread. Its soft, gentle entry quickly fills the mouth with the semisweet flavors of honey, toffee and butterscotch. The finish is seamlessly smooth. It’s a perfect choice for sipping slightly chilled or in a vodka-based cocktail.

Released in March of this year, Chopin Rye Vodka is also crafted to exacting standards and is comprised of nothing but naturally grown golden rye, a proprietary strain of yeast and artesian well water. The grain is milled and slowly fermented over the course of three days before being repeatedly distilled in the estate’s copper column still. It, too, is filtered five separate times, which renders it pure and free of any trace of impurities.

The three single-ingredient expressions of this luxury Polish vodka: Chopin Wheat, Chopin Potato and Chopin Rye.

According to David Gimpelson, Western Division Manager of Chopin Imports Ltd., the debut of Chopin Rye Vodka and Chopin Wheat has been greeted with enthusiasm and critical acclaim. “The brand enjoys such an incredible reputation for quality and taste, and our two new additions will further solidify this success. I think people will be surprised at the marvelous and unique taste differences in our single-ingredient vodka collection.”

Marvelous is an appropriate description of Chopin Rye. The vivacious vodka is crystal clear with a silky lightweight body and a surprisingly spicy bouquet. Its palate is slightly sweet and decidedly spicy, qualities that persist throughout the luxurious finish.

The patriarch of the family—Chopin Potato Vodka—is a contemporary classic. Produced only from mid-September to early December, the small batch vodka is distilled exclusively from late harvest potatoes from the Podlasie region. The naturally grown potatoes contain significantly higher starch content, which yields a more flavorful spirit. The vodka is essentially pure and bottled at 40% alcohol by volume.

A quick, sniff, sip and swallow immediately explains the brand’s enduring success. The vodka has ideal clarity, a creamy, voluptuous body and an enticing vegetal and fruit bouquet. Its entry is soft and bittersweet and the palate is imbued with the flavors of cocoa, vanilla and toffee. Few other vodkas—European or otherwise—can compare in taste with this Polish thoroughbred. The famed potato vodka was recently awarded a Gold Medal at the THE TASTING PANEL’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition, as well as Gold Medal, Best of Category and Best of Class at the 2011 L.A. International Wine & Spirits Competition.

It seems most fitting that these classy vodkas are named in honor of Poland’s most revered composer—Frédéric Chopin. Equally important is that they are worthy of bearing his name. Na zdrowie!!

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