We spoke to Alice Farquhar, Head of Global Training, entrusted with the role of helping consumers and bartenders around the world understand everything they need to know about Belvedere, about the new terroir-driven Belvedere Single Estate Rye series. 

Q: Alice, please share the inspiration behind the Single Estate Rye Series?

A: Belvedere Vodka is committed to exploring terroir in the vodka and pushing boundaries just as we did when we launched the original luxury vodka in 1996. We continuously strive to showcase the potential for true, authentic and flavorful vodka, debunking the misconception that vodka is tasteless and odorless. We created the Single Estate Rye Vodkas to prove just that. Knowing that our rye is estate-sourced matters, and these new vodkas bring to life how taste depends on the terroir. While not a new concept for wine, this is a revolutionary and ground-breaking philosophy for vodka.

Q: How did you begin exploring the concept of terroir in vodka?

A: We felt the vodka category was heading in a direction that went against Belvedere Vodka’s core philosophy of all natural and additive-free. Rather than following suit with laboratory-induced flavors, we set out to create something that would reinforce our commitment to producing dynamic vodkas of exceptional complexity and character. Terroir is not simply a notional concept, it really does shine through in our food and drink and enables us to experience the history and traditions of a place through our palate and senses. 

Q: How has the Single Estate Rye series been created?

A: Belvedere Vodka is made from 100% Polish Rye sourced from only eight sources. Out of these sources, we selected two farms, developing new liquid from the Lake Bartężek Estate and comparing it to vodka produced in at the Smogóry Forest estate, both made with Diamond Dankowskie rye, a rare, baker’s grade grain. As suspected, we tasted a clear difference between the liquids.

Q: Can you explain the difference in the two terroirs?

A: The vast forests’ short, mild winters and fertile soils of western Poland’s Smogóry Forest offer a completely different landscape to the northern Lake Bartężek in the Mazury Lake District that is renowned for its crystal-clear glacial lakes and long, snowy winters.

Just as people often purchase chocolate, wine and tea from specific regions known for producing quality products, we believe the same can be done with estate vodka as consumers learn about the unique environments each estate terroir have on the growing rye.

Q: How does each terroir impact the taste of each expression?

A: New Belvedere Smogóry Forest delivers a savory, bold finish consistent with a terroir shaped by long, warm seasons from continental air streams. By contrast, Belvedere Lake Bartężek has a fresh, delicate flavor profile owed to its more phosphorous soils and challenging winters of damp Baltic winds. We studied the differences between the rye composition in the resulting spirit from each location. This revealed that the wort and spirit composition from the Diamond Dankowskie Rye grown on the two different sites significantly impacted the aromatic qualities of the two spirits.

Q: What are the different tasting profiles of each of the Single Estate Rye vodkas?

A: Smogóry Forest is a naturally sweet and generous spirit with great range, offering notes of salted caramel, a touch of honey and white pepper that finishes salty-sweet. Lake Bartężek, in comparison, is a delicate spirit with more floral and grassy characteristics. It is full, round and elegant, with notes of spearmint, toasted nuts and cream.

Q: What is the difference in taste from Belvedere Vodka?

A: Belvedere Vodka is an incredible example of a classic Polish rye vodka and strikes the perfect balance of purity and character with bright, expressive and complex notes of vanilla, black pepper and fresh rye bread. In contrast, Belvedere Smogóry Forest showcases deep and rich rye characteristics, with notes of sea salt, toasted nuts and a hint of honey. Belvedere Lake Bartężek displays delicate and fresh characteristics, with notes of rye grain, cut grass and spearmint.

Q: How are the products made?

A: Belvedere Vodka is 100% Polish rye cultivated at eight sources, which are situated across Poland. This rye grain is milled, fermented and a raw spirit is produced which is sent to Polmos Zyrardów, blended together and further distilled, diluted with proprietary water and filtered through cellulose and charcoal. In contrast, Belvedere Smogóry Forest and Belvedere Lake Bartężek begin their lives as Diamond Dankowskie rye which is grown at the named estate. At each location, the rye is milled, fermented and a single raw spirit is created. This is then sent to Polmos Zyrardów and distilled, diluted and filtered through cellulose only. This ensures the characteristics of Diamond Dankowskie rye are fully expressed.

Q: How are these new expressions best enjoyed? Is there a cocktail you’d suggest?

A: Smogóry Forest and Lake Bartężek should be enjoyed neat or on the rocks to fully experience the individual characteristics of each. If enjoyed in a cocktail, I would suggest a Lake Bartężek served-up, or a Smogóry Forest Remember the Grain.

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