On the other hand, people who send me samples have read my blog before - so it isn't really too bad, if I give my (blogged) opinion, is it?
Peter Steger of Sash and Fritz German Wodka (yeah - "ze Germans" are spelling vodka with a 'w'), is one of those friends (at least until this post).
To make it a bit more agreeable - and definitely more constructive than critical, I try here a bit of a new twist to this post - instead of a naked review - I try to consult on the product (however not before giving an honest review)... let's get to it, shall we?
First of all, let's get all into the mood, and watch this brilliantly made marketing video!
This video is really a delight... maybe the half filled "water" glasses are a bit of a "video-director's" fallacy... but overall, I feel directly in the mood for Sash and Fritz.
The super-friendly folks who import further explained the overall idea of the vodka, and that Peter really took long time to create a sensual vodka.
And they also brought me a couple of samples... (I tried a little directly).
What is it?
German premium vodka - 5 times distilled and 5 times filtered.
I am always a bit sceptical, when it comes to the number of distillations - as this really says... nothing! It is simply a marketing term - and I guess, with the filtration it is a very similar thing.
Which reaction is expected from me?
Yes- the brain behind Sash & Fritz, was not the first person, who is so convinced of his product, that he predicted me to be in a total awe. Because it should be so much better than other commercial products.
What was my reaction?
It is a vodka!
My thoughts about the tasting?
Sash and Fritz is a premium vodka. There is a surprising level of sweetness - which I honestly don't trust. Usually unaged distillates are not really tasting sweet, unless they are tempering with (either any form of sugar or glycerol); this might be legal (depending on the country it is produced in and/or the country it is sold in), but not necessary political correct - especially if you are looking at the claims of the product.
Other than that, it is really neutral... and surprising smooth as well.
But then, what is the problem?
Well - my problem is, that it is neutral and clean vodka. This is nothing really new (even though it is definitely purer than the market leaders). If consumed with ice and maybe lemon - or even with mixers, it will loose this quality altogether.
What could "they" have done better?
Personally I think that distillers (especially vodka and gin), have to "arrive in reality". Their products are usually not consumed neat and in a nosing glass, but with a mixer or in cocktails.
And 40% abv won't really stand up in drinks. Why not offering the vodka directly with a strength between 44% and 48%?
But there is more...
There is only one brand of vodka, which really impressed modern (craft) bartenders through the last decade or so... and that was SubRosa. A brand, which didn't came with their nonsense story of being the smoothest, "most neutral - but with a distinctive refined taste of grain"... No - not at all. They offered two unusual but authentically produced aromatized vodkas: Saffron and Tarragon.
Absolut also stirred up the bartender community, when they introduced the (brilliant) cooperation with Strangeway. I think, that it was more of a marketing pitch (the flavours weren't that special, but it also worked reasonably well, to have some resonance in the bartending community).
I could see, that Sash and Fritz could work like that as well.
Especially for German bartenders (in Germany, but also abroad), it would be something very special, to have a really unique product on the shelves. German "wodka" though isn't that special anymore, and as also in Germany a lot of micro-distilleries emerged, a "pure traditional" vodka probably won't cut it.
But what is about a line of really cool flavoured variants?
Yeah - I know, the gin market is quite overflowing... but if you are distilling vodka, you can directly also distill a nice gin. Can be something unusual... there are a lot of classic gins out there, and a lot of herbal and floral gins as well.... but maybe something more roasty (puffed wheat?), or something fruitier and rounder (Sash and Fritz German Old Tom) would be interesting.
Second: Flavoured Vodka
Ok - let us directly understand one thing: this vodka should be authentically flavoured - that means the whole vodka should be distilled with the specific aromatics (whole botanicals). It is pretty obvious, that not so many producer are doing this...
As aromas, I could think of something pretty German mixed with something "less" German... I love the taste of real woodruff, but maybe I am the only one... But I guess I would buy a vodka flavoured with spring strawberries and fresh woodruff. Or maybe tarragon and woodruff (strangely if you make tarragon syrup or soda, it taste like a more herbal woodruff anyway...
Something like quince combined with rose, would be something a bit more feminine, without being stereotype. Another really cool aroma combination would be fennel and apple.
Or hops and grapefruit.
It just have to have culinary qualities and shouldn't be too easy and too pedestrian. Craft should be the first thought - and it should be quirky enough, to catch the attention of bartenders
The investment would be reasonably small. The vodka is anyway made - so it just would need to be infused and redistilled. The bottles are also beautiful, and the label would just need a bit of amendment. I think it is just worth a shot... isn't it?