While I’m not usually a vodka drinker, I appreciate the spirit, but my heart lies elsewhere. I do enjoy the occasional vodka martini or vodka tonic. A lot of my ambivalence about vodka is simply that most of it is really pretty average, especially the American brands. The Europeans don’t strip as much flavor out of their vodkas, which to my palate, results in a more flavorful and far less harsh-tasting product. Some of my preferred brands include Finlandia, Absolut, and Stolichnaya and Effen, the Dutch vodka. Please don’t read more into this than there needs to be. If I didn’t mention your favorite brand, it isn’t a criticism, merely a matter of personal taste. Of the brands I mentioned, Effen is perhaps the least well-known, and it deserves more attention from both bartenders and vodka connoisseurs.
One of the things that is interesting about Effen Vodka is the design of the bottle itself. So many bottles are poorly designed with stoppers reminiscent of giant clown noses, or they’re in unusual, ugly shapes that can be hard to pour. Effen’s bottle is tall with a clean, sleek profile, and each bottle comes with a polymer sleeve around the waist of the bottle. This sleeve does two things. First, it insulates the bottle, so if you like to keep your vodka in the freezer, it stays cold longer. Second, it provides a better grip on the slick glass. If you ever try to pour a bottle with wet hands, you know it isn’t easy, but with Effen’s simple and attractive sleeve, the problem is solved.
While a pretty bottle is one thing, what really matters is the liquid inside the bottle. Water is a major component of distilled spirits, and Effen gets it right by using a reverse osmosis process to strip out any impurities before distillation. Then, the vodka itself is distilled countless times through a continuous rectification process at lower temperatures than traditional distillation. These lower temperatures ensure that the base flavors in the grain (Effen only uses wheat from northern Holland) stay true and don’t develop any cooked notes. After distillation, Effen goes through a unique charcoal filtering process five times to create a clean, smooth taste. The result is a vodka that retains a hint of its base wheat character and that is also eminently mixable into your favorite cocktails.
Effen also offers two unique flavors, Cucumber and Black Cherry. Effen Cucumber is outstanding in a vodka tonic with a true cucumber flavor that adds a refreshing twist to a classic drink. Effen Black Cherry may be the greatest accomplishment as a true cherry flavor is one of the most elusive flavors to get right in modern distilling. Most cherry-flavored spirits taste more like cough syrup than actual fruit, but Effen Black Cherry provides a rich cherry flavor that adds a unique flavor to a number of cocktails. My favorite way of enjoying Effen Black Cherry is simply with club soda, but try it in a Cosmopolitan or a Lemon Drop for a fun twist.
However you like your vodka, Effen is a vodka worth discovering. These are well-made vodkas that will please even the most discerning palate. Look for Effen in better bars, restaurants, and liquor stores, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Effen for review. No other compensation from Effen was received.