Following up on its single estate vodka releases, Belvedere is back with another limited edition, Heritage 176, a vodka blended with malted rye spirit (essentially a white whiskey). What’s the idea? “Heritage 176 delivers a unique taste experience by emphasizing the rye from which Belvedere is made. Using a centuries-old technique of malting, the rye is heated to 176 degrees, revealing its unexpectedly rich and complex flavors. The brand has added a small amount of this malted rye spirit to its classic vodka, showcasing the grain like no other vodka on the market.” Because it’s not a straight vodka, the bottling refers to itself as “Spirit Drink” on the label.
What’s a touch of white whiskey (2% of the total, actually) do to a high-end Polish vodka? Let’s give it a whirl and find out.
The impact is certainly mild. If I didn’t know that this vodka was doctored I wouldn’t have been able to guess that something had been tweaked. The nose is soft and lightly grainy — no more so than a standard glass of Belvedere — with elements of sesame seed, buttercups, and a gentle layer of anise all making an appearance. The palate’s on the sweet side, more than one typically gets from Belvedere, both lightly fruity and floral at the same time. Orange blossoms make the biggest impact on the tongue, followed by gentle granary notes and a lightly nutty character developing on the finish.
While I don’t pretend to understand what Belvedere was going for with this oddball release, it’s a solid vodka — er, spirit drink — that would stand well in any cocktail.