Review: Willibald Vodka / by Jason Hambrey

willibald vodka 1.jpg
Triple distilled corn, rye, and barley
Distiller Willibald (Ayr, Ontario)

This vodka is made from a mashbill which used corn, rye, and barley - the same base mash bill that is used for all Willibald’s products, including their excellent gin. Corn tends to give a nice body and sweetness in vodkas, and rye gives a bit of spice - so, at the least, we expect this one to have a bit of character.

The vodka comes off the still at above 90% after three distillations, and it is then proofed down using water from the well onsite.

Review (2021)

  • Batch:

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

  • Bottling Code: N/A

A clean, buttery and clean nose with some very nice edges. This spirit remains firmly in the vodka camp but has subtleties that you rarely see in the category: light baking spice, dried fruit, wheat, and the lightest touch of berries. On the taste, a thick mouthfeel with extremely clean, bright flavours, with touches of berries and spice on the finish. It has a very pleasant bite while remaining buttery and smooth. This is firmly atop the list of my favourite vodkas: clean, pure, and full of subtlety and spice.

Served straight up, any bite quickly fades, the viscosity goes up a notch, and the berry fruit character sits at the centre – to great effect.

Their recommended cocktail is the Caesar, which this would serve terrifically. However, a lot of the character gets lost, so I’d go another direction - this makes a terrific vodka martini. The brightness of the fruit and spice notes in the vodka makes me favour a lemon twist over an olive. When made extra dry (say 2 oz vodka, ½ oz dry vermouth) with a respectable vermouth (like Dolin dry), and a lemon twist (or olive) it competes with the best gin vodkas – I think. It’s different than some others since the vodka has so much character, but highlights the vermouth so well.

Assessment: Very highly recommended.

Value: High. $34 for a vodka like this is great.