XDar Vodka, $13.99
The back story
Ukraine is a country that has long been associated with the production of vodka — the clear spirit is consumed at home and imported throughout the world. And even as Russia continues to wage war against Ukraine, the vodka keeps flowing.
Take the case of XDar, a vodka brand with a 20-year history that is produced from what is billed as a “modern, high-tech distillery” in the area of Cherkasy, a city in central Ukraine. At the war’s outbreak earlier this year, production was ceased “to keep employees and their families safe,” says Natalya Kolosok, chief executive of Liquorum Imports, the company that brings XDar to the US And even though employees were kept on the payroll during this time, they were eager to come back to work — to “have a purpose,” as Kolosok explains.
Certainly, there’s demand for XDar (the name means “gift” in English). The brand sold 9.2 million cases last year — an increase of 30% versus sales in 2017. The wheat-based vodka is made with what Kolosok describes as “ecologically pure artesian well water”; she also points to the fertile, black soil used in growing the grain as another differentiating point.
As might be expected, Ukrainian vodka is garnering increased attention during this wartime period. And Russian vodka? Not so much. Many US bars and retailers — and some entire states — have decided to ban Russian-made spirits, as a gesture of support to the Ukrainian people.
What we think about it
At a time when there are more than a few luxury vodkas on the market, it’s nice to taste one that delivers everything you like about the spirit at a very modest price. This is a vodka defined by a certain freshness and clean taste, with a hint of vanilla to give it just a little depth. It’s also a sheer delight to drink chilled (indeed, the colder the better).
How to enjoy it
Like I said, have it chilled for an inviting pre-dinner drink. But it’s the kind of vodka that will work in most any vodka-based cocktail — say, a screwdriver or bloody Mary.
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