Turkey on the map
This is a review of Istanblue vodka from Turkey. I sampled it in Germany in 2011. It’s clear, 40% alcohol, and I just found it again in a shop in Sinop.
I didn’t expect much of this. I thought it was going to be just another cool name, another frosted glass bottle, another brand cashing in on an image. And worst of all, the name was a pun! Istanbul, Istanblue, get it?
That’s what I thought anyway. But I decided to pick up a bottle anyway, because you never know.
And what a surprise it was! Back when I made the first review of Istanblue vodka, I thought it hit all the marks: the initial taste was smooth like Russian Standard, and the aftertaste was rich and perfect. Balmy. Friendly. Sweet. Everything you could want from a vodka, right here in this bottle, hidden behind the pun.
I thought even the bottle design looked good. And it had a dispenser!
I love built-in dispensers. There are two options for a vodka bottle: either it makes that nice gluck-gluck sound when you’re pouring from it, or it has a dispenser. That’s it. Anything else is unsatisfying. And now that I’m thinking of it, I guess a dispenser is always better:
All in all, Istanblue vodka is a vodka brand to try out!
what the hell happened
It’s September 2021 now, and I’ve been going over some of the older reviews on here. But when I tried to look up Istanblue online, I came up with nothing. No site. No social media. In the end I found a website that said Istanblue vodka was owned by a Turkish company called Sirtu that also made raki:
The thing is, while the Burgaz raki brand seemed to be still operating, there wasn’t a trace of either Sirtu or Istanblue online. Nothing. I’m wondering what happened there.
Funny how things work out sometimes. It’s October 2021, not even a month after my last update of this post, and I have found Istanblue vodka in a shop in Sinop! The bottle looks a bit different from before:
It now says that it’s SILVER FILTERED.
I checked the label on the back, and it turns out that Istanblue is owned by the Turkish beverage alcohol company Mey. And Mey in turn is owned by Diageo from the UK. Here’s a screenshot of the mey.com.tr website:
They produce mostly raki, but they also own three major Turkish vodka brands, one of them being Istanblue:
So it looks like we’ve finally figured this whole thing out. Istanblue belongs to Mey belongs to Diageo (which also owns Ketel One and Cîroc). There’s still one thing that remains a bit of a mystery to me, though: why has no one ever bothered to make a proper website for Istanblue? Honestly, I don’t get it.
So anyway, I think I should update our review of Istanblue vodka. Having personally seen the new bottle design I can tell you that I liked the old one better. I’m going to subtract a two points for that (glad they have kept the dispenser, though).
The price is still good: I paid about 7€ for this 350ml bottle, which means that 700ml would have been around 14€. Nothing changed there.
About the taste: it is still awesome. First of all Istanblue vodka only has a very faint smell, and there’s a even hint of orange aroma in it. Not bad at all. And when you drink it, then taste is sweet and fresh, and it goes down very easily. A well-deserved top score.
Sadly, the aftertaste isn’t as good as I remember it. I mean, it’s not bad. But it isn’t “rich and perfect” like I described it back in 2011. Minus three points.
going the wrong way
Overall I think Istanblue is an excellent vodka that is not being treated with the respect it deserves. It should have kept the nice frosted-glass bottle and its great aftertaste. And it should have a proper website.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.