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Everything you need to know about Scottish vodkas

Looking to get into Scottish vodka but don't know where to begin? We can help with this handy guide:

Published: July 10, 2015
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With the recent explosion in demand for Scottish whisky and the current abundance of small batch Scottish gins it seems crazy that vodka, with it's simple ingredients, accessible production and lasting popularity, would be left behind.

Though attitudes towards drink, and spirits in particular, are becoming more discerning and the demand for locally sourced products is growing, vodka has yet to inspire the devotion of either whisky or gin in terms of its production in Scotland.

However a few, brave small batch producers are looking to buck the trend and slowly but surely, Scottish vodka is beginning to make a name for itself.

The Market

Scotland is in fact, a vodka loving nation, it makes up around 35 per cent of our spirit intake - beating both blended whisky (13 per cent) and gin (7 per cent).

Big name brands such as Smirnoff (67.6 per cent of the market), Glens (8.7 per cent) and Absolut (3.2 per cent) continue to dominate.

£192m worth of vodka was sold in Scotland in 2014 alone, compared to gin which sold just £46m (though gin sales did rise year on year by nearly 6 per cent).

Scottish Vodkas

Other than the ubiquitous Glens, Scotland has actually been quietly producing quite a few interesting vodkas.

Most are small batch and are referred to as 'craft vodkas' though the term is not legally defined.

Ogilvy Vodka

Ogilvy vodka. Picture: Contributed

Ogilvy vodka. Picture: Contributed

This Scottish potato vodka is already an award winner, scooping a double gold medal and sliver for at the prestigious 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

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The Jarrons began making the distillery on their farm  in 2014 - complete with a custom built still from John Dore & Co (the world’s oldest still maker) - and began to produce potato vodka at the end of last year.

By the middle of last year, they were producing 2,000 bottles of Ogilvy Vodka a month and were looking to expand operations. Crisp, citrusy and creamy, the future looks bright for this interesting vodka.

Price: £35 approx.

Arbikie Vodka

Arbikie vodka. Picture: Arbikie

Arbikie vodka. Picture: Arbikie

Arbikie claim to been the first company to have produced Scottish potato vodka and have slowly been expanding the brand ever since. Scotland’s newest “farm-to-bottle” distillery, the vodka was the first spirit to be produced there, with a new gin (Kirsty's) released at the tail end of last year and whisky to follow soon.

The distillery is part of the Arbikie Highland Estate in Angus and it is under the management of brothers John, Iain and David Stirling.

Iain Stirling, the commercial director, told the Scotsman: “Arbikie Vodka has a distinctive taste with the quality and passion of a whisky."

The vodka itself has been scoring well in taste sets and no doubt will follow in Ogilvy's footsteps as a success.

Price: £42 approx.

Valt vodka

Kininvie Disgorging

 

Valt vodka was created from a simple idea, the desire to use malted barley similar to that used in Scottish whisky. The result is a robust vodka with rich creamy notes of vanilla.

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Created using a quintuple micro-distillation technique, which is unique to Valt, Strathleven Distiller's flagship product has been quietly been making waves in the Scottish vodka scene.

Price: £25 approx.

Pincer vodka

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With a solid focus on the use of the best grain and botanicals, Pincer is infused with the flavours of Wild Elderflower, and Milk Thistle.

The vodka itself has a wonderfully rich creamy flavour, with a hint of herbs on the nose.

The spirit has been diluted to 38% ABV, which according to Pincer is deemed the perfect strength for vodka by Dmitri Mendeleev, the creator of the periodic table no less.

Price: £23 approx.

Others of note: 

Blackwoods Botanical vodka -  a five times distilled grain vodka, created using water from Shetland, lightly infused with hand-picked Shetland botanicals including Meadow Sweet, Sea Pink, Angelica and Marsh Marigold.

NB premium vodka - Hot on the heels of their wonderful award-winning gin, NB Distillery has created the world’s first London Dry citrus vodka. Creator Vivienne Muir said: “What we’ve produced is totally new and we think that it will throw a curveball into the vodka market in terms of its uniqueness."

The serve

Vodka is considered to be the world's best mixer, it will quite literally go with anything, don't believe us? Feel free to experiment for yourself (within reason of course).

It's perfect chilled and can be drunk neat, or over ice, however many people may find the robust flavour to be a little to unsubtle to enjoy without a mixer.

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Vodka is also excellent for cocktails is used in over 60 per cent of those sold in bars and the on trade.

Cocktails

Ogilvy - Ogilvy Fizz (from the Ogilvy website)

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Ingredients

Ingredients

20ml of Ogilvy vodka
A liberal pour of Moët champagne
1 white sugar cube
2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Method

Take your sugar cube and infuse it with a couple of dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters. Tip your modest measure of Ogilvy vodka into the flute glass, then top it up with a decent helping of champagne.
To finish, drop the spicy, saturated sugar cube in and serve immediately.

Valt - Cucumber and Elderflower Fizz (from the Valt website)

honeyAppleCocktail

Ingredients

•  35mls VALT Vodka
• 3 Rinds of Cucumber
• Dash Elderflower Cordial
• Dash Lychee Juice
• Splash Champagne

Method

Muddle the cucumber rind, valt vodka, elderflower cordial and lychee juice in a boston glass and shake well, strain into a chilled flute glass and top up with champagne.

Garnish with a slice of cucumber.

Arbikie - Moscow Mule (from the Arbikie website)

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Ingredients

• 15 ml lime juice
• 40 ml vodka
• 150ml  ginger beer

Method

Squeeze lime juice into a Collins glass (or Moscow Mule mug) and drop in the squeezed piece of lime.
Add 2 or 3 ice cubes.
Pour in the vodka.
Top up with cold ginger beer.

Serve with a sprig of mint.

 

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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