Belvedere Vodka Cel­e­brates Its New Kosher Sta­tus

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A Brief In­tro­duc­tion

As a vodka drinker, and one with deep Pol­ish-Jewish roots, I have long known that Belvedere Vodka is a su­pe­rior brand. Maybe even a lit­tle more than that. While it’s be­come a cliché for mar­ket­ing types to de­scribe a con­sumer prod­uct as an ex­pe­ri­ence (it’s not shoe-shop­ping, it’s a shoe-shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence!), I think that open­ing a bot­tle of Belvedere is in­deed a ex­pe­ri­ence.

My kosher- keep­ing brethren may have been re­luc­tant to pick up a bot­tle be­fore the brand got its Ortho­dox Union seal of ap­proval. So al­low me to de­scribe what you’re in for:

The first thing you no­tice is how el­e­gant the bot­tle is, which is much like what I as­pire to be — tall and slim. The lovely graphic of sil­ver birch branches has a nice tex­ture to it, as well as a pleas­ing draw­ing of its name­sake, the Bel­weder Palace, a kind of Pol­ish ver­sion of Amer­ica’s White House, etched into the glass.

“Belvedere” — pro­nounced bel-veder — comes from the Ital­ian belvedere, or “place from where one sees beauty.” It’s also beau­ti­ful to drink. I’ve al­ways been puz­zled by the de­scrip­tion of vodka as “taste­less,” as if it were merely some kind of neu­tral ve­hi­cle for tipsi­ness. Okay, in many cases it is. But the bet­ter vod­kas, even the un­fla­vored ones, have sub­tle dis­tinc­tions.

Taste al­ways starts with the nose. The aroma of Belvedere has a pleas­ing acidic bite with a hint of vanilla. There’s a lit­tle vanilla on the palate as well, with a lovely pep­pery fin­ish. The re­sult is a vodka that’s clear, clean, and smooth go­ing down, with a pleas­ant lit­tle af­ter­burn.

After a cou­ple of ounces of Belvedere — neat, or on the rocks with lemon — you’re more than ready to slough off the cares of a long day, or per­haps wel­come the Sab­bath Queen.

If that’s not an ex­pe­ri­ence, I don’t know what is.

Why Is Belvedere Su­per-Premium?

Belvedere is a Pol­ish vodka. It’s also a “Pol­ish Vodka,” mean­ing that its earned the right to use the spe­cial gov­ern­men­tal des­ig­na­tion, as it is made en­tirely in Poland with strict stan­dards of qual­ity. But Belvedere bills it­self as “the world’s first su­per-premium vodka.” What ex­actly does this mean?

As you know, vodka is a dis­tilled bev­er­age, usu­ally made from fer­mented grains or pota­toes.

The word is ac­tu­ally a diminu­tive of wa­ter — woda in Pol­ish. Hence wodka, or “lit­tle wa­ter.”

Back in the day — as in cen­turies ago — Eu­ro­peans made the lit­tle wa­ter for medic­i­nal pur­poses. They also no­ticed that it had a great way of help­ing you re­lax after a hard day in the fields.

So when you’re tast­ing Belvedere you’re reap­ing the ben­e­fits of cen­turies of Pol­ish vodka- mak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Belvedere’s own dis­tillery has been mak­ing vodka since 1910, mak­ing it one of the world’s long­est con­tin­u­ously op­er­at­ing dis­til­leries.

The re­ally spe­cial thing about Belvedere, though, is that they keep it pure and sim­ple, us­ing only su­pe­rior, lo­cally-sourced in­gre­di­ents.

The Pol­ska rye used to make Belvedere is from eight lo­cal Pol­ish sources. The grain it­self that has been de­vel­oped over cen­turies for spe­cific use in vodka, mak­ing it a main rea­son for Belvedere’s dis­tinc­tive­ness.

The wa­ter is also lo­cal — in this case ex­tremely lo­cal, from wells be­long­ing only to Belvedere’s dis­tillery.

The wa­ter passes through an eleven­step pu­rifi­ca­tion sys­tem so that it af­fects the taste of the vodka as lit­tle pos­si­ble; the vodka it­self is fil­tered mul­ti­ple times for im­pu­ri­ties.

Noth­ing else is added to Belvedere — un­like lower qual­ity vod­kas, there’s no added sugar or glyc­erin. Even the bot­tling process is mind­ful — slow and with nu­mer­ous qual­ity checks be­fore it reaches your gul­let.

So why is Belvedere su­per-premium? Be­cause it’s a premium spirit, made with­out short­cuts and from lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents.

How Should You Drink It?

I am a vodka purist. When I’m drink­ing the good stuff, I like to know it. Thus I urge you to try it as above — neat, or with lemon on the rocks. Try it with a salty, sa­vory snack like pick­led her­ring.

I am not a pro­po­nent of the vodka tonic. To my mind, or palate, the chem­i­cal un­der­tone of tonic wa­ter doesn’t go well with the brac­ing clar­ity of good vodka. Try it in­stead with a splash of soda wa­ter. Or in warmer months, try one part Belvedere with three parts ap­ple cider or ap­ple juice.

Ul­ti­mately, though, we’re talk­ing about hav­ing a cock­tail. Which means that it should be re­lax­ing and fun. You want a mar­tini? A screwdriver? A Moscow mule? Go for it.

Just make sure that you start with Belvedere — and en­joy in the full con­fi­dence of its kashrut from the Ortho­dox Union. Na zdrowie, and l’chaim!

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