It takes guts to name your vodka after a shape.
This 84-proof spirit hails from Austria, where it is distilled from wheat using a patented process that makes it, per the company, “the only structured vodka worldwide.” My understanding of this “structuring” system is limited, but Oval says it’s an entirely new way of making vodka that involves mixing alcohol with water in a special way. There is a 3-D chart on the website and a video explaining this, so it must be true, right?
The company also actually suggests Oval not be consumed ice cold but at 57 to 59 degrees, saying that freezing temps “hide all its aromas and repress the taste receptors.” (The company also says “you should not mix Oval with anything else,” which will unfortunately lock out about 95 percent of the vodka-drinking universe. If you must have something with it, the company recommends water… in a separate glass.) UPDATE: Oval writes to note that this advice appears only for the benefit of Oval drinkers on its European site and that U.S. drinkers are welcome to mix and drink it ice cold!
I tried it both ways, of course.
Finally to the tasting! There’s a strong almond nuttiness to the flavor and the nose, and both are indeed more pronounced when it’s a little warmer in the glass. Lightly sweet on the palate, it gives way to a pleasantly light finish, vaguely medicinal but quite easy going down. Drinking it warm vs. cold? Frankly I’d go with it cold, the old-fashioned way, though it isn’t bad after several minutes warming up, either.
A final word on the bottle, which is a unique, oval-ish pyramid. It looks cool (and was designed by LUCY.D), but I was sad that a few hours in the freezer caused my bottle to develop a large hairline crack. Nothing is leaking thankfully, but for a company that stakes its reputation on “structure” (and is accordingly priced), that’s decidedly unfortunate.
B+ / $40 / ovalvodka.com
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