Zakuska Vodka was pitched to me as “a simple, no-B.S. vodka served as a chilled shot.” No flavors, no gimmicks. It launched only in 2022, and despite the Baltic-sounding name, it’s actually made in Columbus, Ohio, distilled from red winter wheat and corn, and bottled — noticeably — unfiltered, rendering it slightly translucent. The label’s a conversation piece on its own, looking like photos cut out of magazines from various eras and pasted onto the antique-styled glass.
The bottle’s art, but the vodka inside is indeed as promised: Clean, crisp, and perfect for bracing shots with caviar, oysters, or, it would seem, chicken nuggets.
A bold ethanol note fills the nose, ever so slightly earthy with just a touch of mint and rosemary. Clean as could be, with hospital overtones, but never approaching Band-Aid or rubbery qualities. It’s quite refreshing on the palate — quite creamy in body — and mercifully free of any sweetness at all. The finish sees some secondary qualities emerging, but they’re mild, reminiscent of dark chocolate, cinnamon, and mineral-driven slate, all nice foils to the more herbal nose. I got virtually none of the flavors and aromas that the official tasting notes suggest (figs and honey?), but this is a spirit that’s so gentle and innocuous that you can likely project just about anything onto it and go to bed happy.
If I have any complaint it’s with the closure: The snap-on stopper doesn’t adhere well and tends to pop off. Drink fast.
A / $35 / zakuskavodka.com