For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we find the line where Vodka meets Whiskey by getting into a dram of Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits (Rigby, Idaho).
Developed to serve as a shining example of Zodiac’s “passion to go a step beyond,” Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka starts with a gluten-free, potato-based Vodka that is “first infused with natural Black Cherry extract and blended in Idaho, USA with water from the Snake River Aquifer.” Once distilled and blended, the Vodka is then sent to rest in American Oak barrels “to acquire the taste of an incredibly smooth and mellow whiskey with soft cherry and spice overtones.” Weighing in at 35% ABV (70 PROOF), Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka “can be enjoyed straight or mixed with your favorite cocktail.”
Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka is featured exclusively at Bigfire, a restaurant located in Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Orlando, in its “Oaked Cherry Manhattan” and “White Old Fashioned.” If you would like a bottle of your own, you can visit Cask Cartel to purchase a 750ml bottle of Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.
Alrighty . . . now that we are all caught up on the story behind this offering, let’s see what a “Barrel Rested Vodka” is all about over some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits
Appearance: Poured slightly chilled from a sample vial into a tasting glass, Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka presents itself as perfectly clear and the lightest of straw yellows in color. When held to direct light, most of the color washes out but a tinge of faint yellow is left to remain. When jostled about in the glass, this vodka leaves a slick arch behind which drops wide tears that retreat slowly down to the liquid level.
Aroma: The aromatics open with a sweet burst of candied black cherry. The barrel then pushes through with a solid rush of sweet vanilla. Alcohol rounds out the profile, but it is quite tame and reserved. The aroma reads almost exactly like the interior of a decadent cherry cordial.
Taste: Each sip opens with that neutral spirit you expect from a good vodka, but it slowly morphs to take on a new, more dynamic personality. Smooth vanilla emerges to offer a creamy, almost bourbon-like vanilla note. The black cherry is shy at first, but it gradually blooms to add a gently sweet fruitiness to the experience. The profile closes with incredibly sneaky, soft tones of cinnamon and spice. All expected flavors are present but not at all overly aggressive.
Mouthfeel: Slick in feel, this offering consumes and coats the palate before quickly evaporating (just as you would hope from a vodka). It does lean to the sweet side, but it is not at all cloying. The ABV offers a pleasant warmth in the throat. The finish is mostly clean but there is just a lingering kiss of black cherry left in the aftertaste.
Final Thoughts: All too often, a flavored vodka in your glass means there is a good chance that it will be overly sweet, come across as unnaturally flavored, and not give you any indication that it is actually a vodka because it is completely dominated by the added flavoring. This is not at all the case with Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.
Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka easily sets itself apart from its peers in the flavored vodka game in many ways. First, it tastes and smells like vodka. Sure, it is no longer purely neutral, but it does retain the spirit of the base vodka by providing that clean vodka finish in both aroma and flavor. Second, the black cherry flavoring was added with a deft hand so that it complements gracefully instead of bullishly consuming the entire experience. Finally, the barrel-resting process pulls natural, bourbon-like vanilla notes out of the wood, further reinforcing Zodiac’s subtly and intent to ensure that this offering indeed tastes like a fine spirit and not just an alcoholic flavored syrup.
By starting with a quality vodka, knowing when to say “when” with the black cherry extract, and venturing into a hybrid territory that falls somewhere between vodka and whiskey, Zodiac Spirits has carefully crafted something incredibly special with Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka. Thanks to its nuance and dynamic character, Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka can be thoroughly enjoyed straight up and also has nearly limitless potential when it comes to both vodka- and whiskey-centric cocktails (one sip of it neat and it becomes quite clear why Bigfire is having so much success in reinventing classic whiskey cocktails with this vodka). It is fun, it is playful, and it will make an incredible addition to anyone’s home bar. Head over to Cask Cartel and get yourself a bottle of this Limited Release while you still can. Prost!