Belvedere is a smooth and subtly spicy vodka that’s as beautiful to drink as its bottle is to look at. The vodka’s mildly weighty palate is balanced with low-key sweetness, which leads to a well-integrated, grassy and ultimately clean finish.
Company: Moët Hennessy
Distillery: Polmos Żyrardów Distillery, Poland
Still Type: column
Awards: Gold, 2021 International Spirits Challenge
- Rye base that’s savory yet subtle
- Bright, clean and pleasant on the palate
- Eye-catching packaging
- Belvedere’s innate savoriness gets lost among even the most refined tonics. It’s better suited for Martinis and sipping neat.
Color: Crystal-clear—viscosity is apparent when swirled.
Nose: Sweet, fresh and toasty grassiness and subtle almond-skin notes
Palate: Mildly weighty, Belvedere initially hits your tongue with low-key sweetness, and then its rye-based spicy notes reveal themselves. The key is the alcohol, which is very well-integrated and pushes those main flavors here instead of fighting with the rye.
Finish: Moderate but consistent spiciness; grassy and ultimately clean
Belvedere’s backstory is akin to the rise in respect for coop-made wines in other areas of the EU. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, government-controlled vodka was no longer requisite. Belvedere is the collective creation of the workers of the Polmos Żyrardów Distillery, which has been in operation since 1910. The distillery’s blenders wanted to make something specifically aimed at the luxury vodka market, which was going gangbusters at its time of creation.
And while, yes, vodka is for most intents and purposes a blank-slate spirit, not all vodkas are created alike. Each has its own personality, and certainly some are made much better than others. Just as different styles of whiskey appeal to different tastes, there are multiple factors that determine which vodka appeals to which person. And while many brands will have you believe that exhaustive distilling is what sets them apart, arguably the most notable thing about this unaged neutral spirit is the source of its distillate. In Belvedere’s case, the spirit is distilled from 100% Polish rye, which makes for a subtle savory quality. This is not the vodka to glug tonic into. Sure, you can, and it will taste just dandy, but the vodka’s spicy, grassy character really shines in a classic Martini (with a twist or an olive, which are equally complementary, so the choice is yours).
Belvedere was “discovered” on a trek to Europe by a Minneapolis booze businessman, Eddie Phillips, who launched the Polish vodka in the U.S. in 1996. He happened to be the son of the iconic advice-giver Abigail “Dear Abby” Van Buren.
The bottom line: More than a blank slate, Belvedere’s grassy rye-spice nature nicely complements the citrusy side of cocktails, as well as the more savory. Its well-integrated alcohol doesn’t fight the rye base, and it leaves a clean finish on the palate.