Bill Dowd photoEarly this year, a new British product -- sparkling vodka, the world's first -- went on sale in the U.S. market. Its makers, who patented their process, recently had bad things to say about a similar product scheduled to come on the market later this year as a venture from hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre. The concern is that because Dre's sparkler can't use the same method it might be inferior to the Brit drink and, therefore, ruin the market for all concerned. I put together a four-person tasting panel to evaluate the original.
• O2 Sparkling Vodka
International English Distillers Ltd. distills the product five times in century-old English copper pot stills and filters it through titanium micro-mesh, then infuses it with very tiny bubbles. The finished product is clear, as vodka should be, and loaded with pinpoint carbonation.
So much for the process. On to the final 94-proof product.
Of our four tasters, one literally recoiled at the first sip of chilled O2. "Bitter," she said. Two others immediately declared it "medicinal." The fourth was undecided, intrigued at first by its warmth, but not won over.
Additional sips revealed a slightly lemony tang, and a hint of spice we theorized comes from rye or similar grain used in the mash. But even after lingering discussion, none of the four of us could recommend the vodka.
In one last attempt to coax something pleasant out of it, I mixed it with an orange-mango nectar in hopes of getting something like a mimosa out of the carbonated vodka. It worked to a slight degree, but the medicinal bitterness still came through.
Suggested retail price: about $37 for the 750ml bottle.
Go back to Dowd On Drinks