Belvedere vodka: going organic with infusions

Peter Ranscombe tries Belvedere vodka’s new organic infusions range, which kicks off the brand’s full organic conversion.

BELVEDERE today unveiled plans to make all its vodkas using organic rye by 2030, starting with its new organic infusions range.

The Polish rye vodka’s brand ambassador, Mike Foster, told an online tasting this morning that all the products it launches will now be made from the organic cereal.

Production of its core vodka will also switch to the organic crop by the end of the decade, lowering its impact on the planet.

Foster also revealed that the boilers at the brand’s distillery in Poland are being converted to burn biomass – presumably instead of coal – to reduce the site’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Zyrardów distillery dates back to 1910, making it one of the world’s oldest continually-operating spirits plants.

Its Belvedere brand was launched in 1993 and was bought in 2002 by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), the French luxury goods giant that owns Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Scotch whiskies.

The company sources its rye from eight farmers in Poland, and is paying a premium above conventionally-grown rye for the organic version.

The fruit, flowers, herbs, and honey going into the infusions range it launched today are also all organic, with the drinks carrying organic certification from both the European Union and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While the brand’s existing macerations range of vodka is also made using fresh fruit – which is steeped in vodka and then re-distilled – the new infusions range employs a variety of techniques to turn the ingredients into liquids that can then be infused into the vodka.

The organic infusions come hot on the heels of the launch last September of Belvedere’s Heritage 176 vodka, which borrowed a little insight from Scotch whisky.

The taste test

Three bottles form the new organic infusions range – which goes on sale on 7 June – with each containing three flavourings.

The Belvedere Organic Infusions Lemon & Basil (£37, Amazon) includes “a touch” of elderflower, and it certainly ticks the lemon and herb boxes on the nose.

There’s a depth to the flavour on the palate – like the lemon custard in a tart – with a well-balanced bitterness from the herb and the elder.

What continues to be most impressive though is Belvedere’s mouth-feel; there’s real weight to its texture.

Pear and ginger aromas are all present and correct on the nose of the Belvedere Organic Infusions Pear & Ginger (£37, Amazon), which also includes “a drop of Linden honey”, which comes from the flowers of a lime tree.

While the pear aroma is slightly confected on the nose, its flavour is much fresher on the palate, with the sweetness of the honey balancing the tang of the ginger.

Finally, the Belvedere Organic Infusions Blackberry & Lemongrass (£37, Amazon) includes a “hint of sage”, which just about makes it through the dominant black fruit on the nose.

It’s the most expressive of the three and – for me – the blackberry flavour was closer to fruit pastilles than fresh fruit on the palate.

That’s not to say it’s unpleasant by any means, but just that it doesn’t reach the high bar set by the fresh fruit flavours in the other two bottles, while the warmth of the lemongrass emphasises the heat from the alcohol.

Belvedere also unveiled a range of cocktail recipes that include the its new vodkas, and I can see them working extremely well, especially with soda water or sparkling wines.

Read more of Peter’s spirits, wine, and beer reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain