Review: Winter Palace and Emperor Vodka

The tzar of Russia’s vodka… where might it come from? If Emperor’s Brand (which brought us Giorgio G Cognac) is right, it’s… France.

Winter Palace and Emperor may not be the original deal, but at the very least they are inspired by Old World recipes, both distilled (six times) from French wheat and cut with water from the Cognac region of France. Both are bottled at 80 proof.

Did the tzars drink vodka from this exact recipe? It’s tough to say, but they wouldn’t have been living badly if they did.

Winter Palace Premium Tzar Vodka – A smooth, very lightly sweet vodka, silky and lush. Clear vanilla notes, which lead to a cinnamon and light cocoa finish. I’d have suspected doctoring but Winter Palace boldly exclaims it contains no additives. Hell of a job on this one. A / $35

Emperor Vodka – This one has Napoleon on the label. Who knew he’d be a vodka man instead of a Cognac drinker? This one is a tougher, more old school vodka, with a real bite to it and a finish that heads not into sweet territory but bitter. Emperor is Ketel One to Winter Palace’s Grey Goose. Tasted side by side just to make sure my taste buds weren’t playing tricks on me — seriously, two French wheat vodkas, water from Cognac, distilled six times, frosted glass bottles, and they’re supposed to be different? I would swear that they are. B+ / $35

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