The only honey-flavored vodka I’m encountered, 42 Below’s Honey Vodka is flavored with Manuka honey, which uses honey from bees that feed on New Zealand’s native Manuka bush. I don’t know what Manuka honey itself tastes like, but I can at least report on the vodka made using it.
The nose on this clear vodka is leathery, earthy, and not really honey-like at all — it’s only there in hints. The honey does however come through when you take a sip. First you get a traditional, medicinal vodka bite, then comes a rich and warmly sweet honey character. It gets earthy and a bit muddy again in the end. The ultimate effect is nothing like the sugar bombs of the legion of whiskey+honey liqueurs out there. The effect here is ultimately more muted, a more restrained — and authentic — expression of honey than any liqueur offers. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly refreshing, coming across more like a rustic, “frontier vodka” of sorts, rather than a playful, modern infusion.
B- / $25 / 42below.com
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