Bombora and CooranBong, both Australian vodkas distilled from grapes, hit the scene in 2011. We dutifully reviewed them at the time, but lately both have been reportedly reformulated (details have not been released) and repriced, though oddly no label or bottle changes have taken place.
Fresh reviews follow (it turns out much has changed on both spirits), based on 2016 bottlings.
Both remain at 80 proof.
CooranBong Australian Vodka – (Aborigine for “water over rocks.”) Distilled 10 times from Barossa Valley grapes. The nose is relatively modern and moderately sweet, with cotton candy and vanilla overtones. The aroma is thin, though, quickly fading to nothing. On the palate, flavor is fleeting. A relatively gummy body develops fairly quickly, however, which offers very little character aside from some roasted vegetable notes that linger on the finish. All told, while it’s a poor choice for sipping straight, its relatively neutral profile makes it a reasonable mixing ingredient. B- / $25 / cooranbong.com
Bombora Vodka – (Aborigine for “reef.”) Distilled 7 times from grapes. Fresh on the nose, with mild lemon notes and a moderate herbal character, it offers an astringency on the nose familiar to any old world vodka drinker. The palate takes things in a different direction, immediately hitting with strong herbal and grassy aromatics that come across like a heady gewurztraminer wine. As the vodka develops, along come stronger lemon peel notes, white flowers, and a lightly bitter finish. It’s not a perfect spirit, but it’s a considerable improvement over the release from five years ago. B+ / $20 / bomboravodka.com