If you’re tired of plain old vodka, you can always turn to flavoured or designer
products for a bit of a change. Some of these, of course, are all about the taste
-- your apple, raspberry, citrus, and chili vodkas, for example -- while others
are clearly about the sophistication -- your Grey Goose, Snow Queen and DIVA.
But there’s one line of vodka that stands out because of its colour, and that vodka
is black vodka.
How black vodka is made varies by manufacturer. Some colour the vodka without adding
any flavour -- though this claim is often disputed -- while others add flavour and
change the colour for an additional effect.
Flavoured or unflavoured, black vodka adds style and sophistication -- plus it’s
a great talking point when used as a mixer.
How black vodka is made
There are only a handful of black vodkas on the market today. The biggest in North
America is Blavod, which uses black catechu as its colouring agent.
Catechu is an extract from the Acacia shrub, which is distilled by boiling the wood
in water and evaporating the resultant brew. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of
catechu before -- it’s an astringent that’s used in some types of medicine as well
as in breath-fresheners. It’s also an effective dye.
Fruko-Schulz is a Czech producer of black vodka that uses humines -- a naturally
occurring organic polymer -- to colour its product.
Other manufacturers of black vodka, such as Eristoff and Znaps, which are most commonly
found in Europe, aren’t as concerned about affecting the taste of their product and
actually trade on their black vodka’s unique flavours.
The major brands of black vodka
If you’ve had black vodka in North America, it’s likely been Blavod. This UK-produced
black vodka trades on its distinctive colour and clean taste.
Some say that Blavod is a premium bottle that can stand up to the best of the non-coloured
bottles, while others suggest that its colour has affected the taste. Some people
swear there’s an herbal or medicinal tang to the vodka’s finish, but this may just
Taste or no taste, the word on Blavod is that it’s a very smooth bottle with nice
notes of cloves and dark berries, and it’s well worth the trouble to find.
You’ve probably never heard of Fruko-Schulz black vodka. This is a Czech-produced
bottle that embodies the best Eastern European production standards.
The manufacturers use the finest grains and specially treated water to distil their
product, with the addition of humines to colour the drink. The result is a premium
bottle of black vodka.
Eristoff is a 100% grain spirit, triple distilled and charcoal filtered for best
quality. And while it excels at producing regular vodka, the company also distills
a black vodka line -- a vodka-based spirit with wild berry flavouring added.
You might want to think of this one as a good club drink. It’s good neat, but improves
with energy drinks or soda.
Finally, anyone who’s been to Sweden likely knows about Znaps Vodka, a pure-grain
vodka from the Scandinavian nation.
Znaps -- whose name is a Swedish twist on the German word schnapps -- is available
only in Europe and South America, so don’t be surprised if you haven’t seen it locally.
The company produces nine different flavours of vodka: lemon lime, vanilla, blackcurrant,
blackthorn, elder, roses, wild strawberry, apple, and Black Jack -- a shooter that’s
a blend of vodka and black licorice.