Vodka has its uses in the spirits and cocktail world, but largely, it isn’t regarded for complex flavors or aroma. NEFT, which uses a recipe crafted with old-world Central European ingredients, is one of the most unique and flavorful expressions of vodka we’ve ever tasted while also blowing its competition away.
To be fair to other varietal vodkas out there, NEFT isn’t the first to aim its effort to be primarily known as a sipper, but there is an approach to the spirit the company has taken to not only push its product to the front of the line but also one of the few vodkas you’ll look forward to mixing because of its flavor profile.
According to NEFT’s website, the spirit was born in the Rhaetian Alps, using spring water from the region that has been naturally filtered through slate and granite, and rye grains from Lower Saxony, Germany. Altogether, this isn’t a mass-produced offering that will show up on a back bar at your favorite dives and watering holes. NEFT Vodka tastes as it has been billed — a premium, small-batch vodka which has a subtle sweetness, a welcome mouthfeel, and a taste that’s as memorable as a pleasant first date.
While I’m not a sommelier, vodka, or otherwise, I have been drinking long enough to form an opinion on most spirits. I have a riveting story I can’t tell in full here but it involved a blind tasting of vodkas with friends and, almost universally, we all picked the cheapest bottle of the stuff one could find on the shelf. From there, I’ve learned that most vodkas that sit on the higher end of the shelf are indeed sippable and mixable, but largely indistinguishable from one brand to the next.
My journey into drinking began quite some time ago, with the requisite two-ingredient cocktails of gin and juice, or rum and coke, then jazzing it up a bit with a Bloody Mary or even a Tequila Sunrise when I dared to walk on the wild side. With time and age, my tastes have been refined due to my exposure to the classics and I’ve never enjoyed a Martini made with vodka unless it was spiked with orange bitters or a few bar spoons of olive brine.
NEFT has completely cured me of my vodka biases and assumptions. One cannot help but marvel at the company’s unique barrel-shaped packaging which makes it an easy to chill product ahead of a few pours. NEFT wants the drinker to enjoy this spirit unfettered and, using its tasting instructions, we did just that. After some struggle in getting the barrel to open cooperatively, we poured our pre-chilled vodka into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.
The aroma on the first sniff was slightly sweet, slightly floral, almost close to old tom gin. The color was crystal clear and looked to have an almost syrupy quality to it. But what really blew us away was the taste. Is that a bit of honey? Is that red grape? Would that finish be best described as long and lingering? Yes to all of the descriptors. This is a knockout vodka and I had to compare it to another competitor’s expression, also known as a varietal, just for yucks. I’m happy to report that NEFT won that battle of the tastebuds easily.
This is by far the best sipping vodka on the market that we’ve tried so far, especially if you’re someone who knows how to appreciate sipping your spirits neat. Because of this vodka’s sweeter (but not overly so) profile, we could see this being a fine base for a martini with a lemon twist and a dash of orange bitters, or in a Martinez, the reported precursor to the Martini.
To learn more about NEFT vodka, please click here.
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