Atanbaj vodka

the discrepancy

This is a review of Atanbay vodka from Kyrgyzstan. I sampled it in Kyrgyzstan in 2014. It’s clear, 40% alcohol, and I thought it had a weird aroma.

Here we have Atanbay vodka (водка Атанбай). This one is – surprise, surprise – from Kyrgyzstan. And it was also part of the infamous drinking night of Jeti Oguz.

yet another phantom

I don’t know what to tell you. Atanbay vodka seems to be in absolute stealth mode, at least online. I couldn’t find anything about it. There was a Globus product page, and not even that had a picture.

I ended up reading a Eurasianet article from 2012 that talked about how Kyrgyz beer brewers were fighting against the Soviet legacy of vodka consumption.

[online search on April 4th 2022]

Old people drank vodka, young people drank beer.

the end of the night

Back to the drinking night, though. By the time we opened this bottle, we were four people, and our faces were as red as our gestures uncertain. We were trying to balance the intake of vodka by drinking huge amounts of water. But this only delayed the inevitable.

Many a time during that night I found myself outside, trying to find the outhouse and then giving up, overlooking the valley and trying not to stumble, and eventually going back inside for more of our red-faced chumminess. It was a good night.

Atanbay vodka has a weird aroma

I am looking over my notes, and it says here that I was wondering about the taste and the aftertaste of Atanbay vodka. The taste itself was apparently pretty good, a bit sweet and only a tad too hot, but the aftertaste was not even average, with an aroma of cleaning alcohol to it.

What was up with this discrepancy?

I don’t know. What I remember is that I was there, in the valley of Jeti Oguz, going further down the spiral of complete drunkenness, opening my heart to random dogs outside, wondering in the back of my mind whether it was the taste or the aftertaste that was more important in a vodka. I failed to find an answer, though.

Again, Atanbay vodka wasn’t expensive (190 Som for 500ml = 3€/700ml). And the bottle looked okayish.


I’m not sure which of the three vodka brands did me in. It couldn’t have been the awesome Kyrgyz Aragy, because that one came first, and I was still pretty in control at the time when the bottle was finished. Maybe it was Ular then, or maybe it was Atanbay vodka.

Or was it the rush of cool mountain air on the shores of Issyk-kul?