Vodka With Sake

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - March 03, 2006
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Spirit drinkers may be forgiven for being utterly confused when confronting the aisles in their local stores looking for vodka nowadays. Used to be, a simple vodka, distilled once or twice and added to a glass of cranberry or orange juice, made an acceptable cocktail.

Today? Forget it.

Unless you’re offering your guests a quadruple micro distilled blend of Polish and Asian ingredients, you’re not on the cutting edge.

Vodkas have flooded the spirit market in recent years. But where do you start if you don’t know fermented rice from fermented potatoes?

Well, you might want to just dive right into some of the trendiest tipples sweeping the nation.

Wokka Saki is one of the newest, smoothest and arguably most beautiful products on the market today.

A blend of sake and vodka, the grain is micro distilled in a stainless steel pot still (much like those used to distill whiskey), with honjozo-shu sake added toward the end of the process. An “Asian” infusion of fruit (the fragrant blend remains un-named) is slipped in to finish the process.

Hand-blending, micro-distilling and small-batch brewing are all terms reserved for premium blends of alcohol, and Wokka Saki certainly offers the vodka drinker something incredibly smooth and beautifully perfumed. There’s a very light impression of sake when you taste this blind, but the flavor is not overwhelming - and there’s a lovely hint of apricots, pears and passion fruit on the nose and on the palate, too.

The media hype states that the vodka was inspired by the giant conifers on the slopes of Mount Zao that every year become petrified by layers of snow and ice, giving the impression they are giant snow monsters. There’s even a snow monster celebration each year in Japan, dedicated to these undeniably stunning natural giants.

I’m not really convinced, however, that this has anything to do with Wokka Saki. (That’s why I like single malts so much. There’s no hype attached to the whisky. It’s enough that it’s made by people who have generations of distillation in their bones.) But to be fair, production of Wokka Saki takes place at the 200-year-old Thames Distillery in London under the supervision of a master distiller, and the vodka-sake has won an unprecedented number of awards since its launch last year.

And whether you need to know the story of the snow monsters or not, Wokka Saki is an unbelievably smooth, subtle, perfectly created drink. It has the added advantage of becoming an effortless base for some very interesting cocktails, too.

Look to see it in every trendy bar and hotel in Honolulu soon - and you should be able to find a bottle or two at fine wine stores around the island.

If vodka, or infused sake are your pleasure, you’ll probably be drawn to this unusual spirit.

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