Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Danzka vodka

Mooching around in Copenhagen airport on the way home the other week I came across Danzka Vodka. Ah, a local tipple, I thought.

In fact the front label immediately admits that it is “imported”. Oddly, the Wikipedia entry for the brand states that it is made in Denmark from Danish wheat, though the website makes no mention of where it is actually distilled (only that it is made from 100% wheat), preferring to focus on the bottle design. Given that has been owned by Belvedere since 2006, perhaps it was once made in Denmark (it’s been going since 1989) but Belvedere now find it easier to produce elsewhere, perhaps in France.

The bottle is made from brushed aluminium and they make no bones about the fact that they are trying to chime with Denmark’s fame for chic minimalist design. They point out that it is unbreakable and “infinitely recyclable”. Does that mean I can take the empty back to the shop and get it refilled from a bucket out the back? At least if I get the shakes and drop it, it won’t smash. Or perhaps they just mean the aluminium is recyclable. In any case, they also make the point that a metal bottle cools more quickly when you put it in the freezer, so if you like your vodka frozen and you’re in a hurry to start necking it as soon as you get back from the shop, this could be the one for you.

Danzka has a nose lightly fragranced with violets, berry fruits, chocolate, a bit of curaƧao, maybe a hint of strawberry. On the palate it’s fairly smooth, fruity and again slightly floral. I compare it to a couple of vodkas I have to hand, Green Mark and Russian Standard: compared to the former, Danzka seems softer and more fruity, and a rougher spirit—which is not to say that it is rough as such. Green Mark has a quiet nose and a balanced, minerally body. To me it seems a bit more “grown up”, somehow. It produces a refined, poised vodka Martini.

Russian Standard, on the other hand, is green and sappy, vegetal and herbaceous, with a nose of caraway and carrot, and a palate that is smoother than Danzka. It makes a fun Martini with dominant earthy, vegetable notes.

I’m not actually a massive fan of drinking vodka from the freezer, because few vodkas seem improved by it and many are worsened—this makes sense, when you think about it, because all the aromatic elements are going to be subdued by the low temperatures. I’m told that one shouldn’t taste vodka like a wine but should knock it back, but this just seems silly to me. If anyone tells you their product is best tasted by pouring it down your throat, bypassing your tongue, then I figure they’ve got something to hide.

Nevertheless, I try all three vodkas from the freezer (and I’m sure the Danzka did indeed chill the fastest, but I wasn’t in any great hurry). I find the characters remain essentially unchanged; the Danzka is relatively perfumed, but now has a more bitter, dry finish. Overall I also find it has something “over-mellow” about it, like overripe bananas.

Over here you can buy Danzka from the DrinkShop for £22.85 (my airport bottle is 40% ABV but I see that the UK version is 37.5%), but unless you’re turned on by the bottle I wouldn’t really bother. Both Russian Standard and Green Mark are much more interesting, in my opinion, and considerably cheaper. If you want something super creamy, try Sipsmith (slightly cheaper), or for an in-your-face minerally character, taste the extraordinary Krepkaya. It works out slightly more expensive, but then it is 56% ABV…


  1. Regarding the effect of cooling on aroma - I find the question of the effect of cooling vodka interesting. Given that it is reasonably well established that cooling wood-distilled spirits has an overall positive effect on the aroma, in combination with addition of water, by impeding the release of some undesirable notes I wonder if the effect of cooling vodka really does mute all the aromas. I expect that this would depend on a number of factors, including the degree of filtration, distillation and the originating ferment.

    Just thinking out loud really, but consider this may be worth some experimentation when I get home. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks, Alberto. I suspect it is a matter of taste, as certainly there are lots of people who like to drink their vodka this way.

    One other factor I noticed last night about serving Danzka from the freezer is that the metal canister is extremely uncomfortable to handle from the freezer! I think oven gloves may be the answer…