For those of you who write and ask, “What’s a really really expensive bottle of vodka I can get for my best friend for Christmas?”, your search has ended. No further search required. This is the vodka.
Beluga Gold Line Noble Vodka — commonly referred to as “Beluga Gold” — is ostentatious and shrieks expensive from start to finish. After you open the leather case, you find a bottle of vodka encrusted with a metal shield of sorts. This isn’t just a strip of aluminum stamped on top of the bottle. It’s a very fancy 3D design, complete with a sturgeon practically leaping off the label and multiple metallic finishes. (Even the alcohol warning is engraved into the label, not printed.) Go to open the bottle but… you can’t! Why not? Because the stopper is encased in wire mesh embedded in clay. To get the clay off you have to break it apart with a hammer. Lucky for you, one is included, a cute little number with a mallet on one end and a brush on the other. It’s like a little archaeological dig, only there are no bones at the end, just booze. Hammer away. (This is super fun, but do your hammering outside… you’ve been warned.) Finally you’re into the spirit… and fortunately for you an elaborate metal-clad shot glass is also included so you can get to drinking right away.
OK, now you’re drinking vodka that costs about $125 a bottle. $100 to $200, actually, depending on where you find it. It’s grain-based spirit from Russia, lightly flavored with “rice extract and rhodiola rosea extract,” among other additives. I don’t have a clue what those add to the spirit (rice extract?), but once they’re in, the vodka is “matured” for 90 days, which I presume means it is rested in a neutral vessel before bottling.
Sorry, now you’re drinking $125 vodka.
The nose is unique, lightly medicinal with a marshmallow back end. The balance between savory and sweet is actually quite effective, and enticing. On the palate, Beluga Gold is fairly sweet, a bit floral (perhaps that’s the rhodiola rosea extract?), and offers a moderate and easy finish with a pleasant sweetness that complements the moderately thick body. It’s easy to sip straight, but it stops short of being a sugar bomb like so many modern vodkas. Altogether it’s a milder version of Beluga’s standard-grade (and $30) spirit, which is a little strange, because I’d expect it to be the other way around.