This is a review of Kalinovaya vodka from Russia. I sampled it in Germany in 2013. It’s a clear infusion, 40% alcohol, and I found it pretty good.
Kalinovaya vodka (Калиновая) is infused with viburnum and red raspberry. Viburnum is called kalina (калина) in Russian, and a lot of Russians like to make their own vodka infusions with it.
When you enter Kalinovaya vodka into a search engine (in Latin or in Cyrillic), you will get lots of articles and photos of homemade viburnum infusions. It took me a while to find the actual Kalinovaya vodka brand online.
It is owned by Bashspirt, a large producer of alcoholic beverages that sits in Bashkortostan near the Kazakh border. Their website looks nice at first:
Note that the first thing they offer is a Putinka vodka though lol!
Anyway, the website has a bit of company history:
And there’s a nice educational video about the difference between the company’s Luxe vodka and Alpha vodka:
Lux alcohol contains 0.02% methyl alcohol, Alpha alcohol contains less than 0.003%.
The thing is, there isn’t a trace of Kalinovaya vodka on this new, shiny website. I ended up finding it on Bashspirt’s old website, a very serious looking place with lots of long paragraphs:
Kalinovaya vodka had its own page there. It didn’t offer much, just a picture and a short text:
GENTLE ORIGINAL TASTE, CLASSIC TECHNOLOGY, CENTURIES-OLD TRADITIONS, etc.
I didn’t learn much from this. Is Kalinovaya vodka still around? Why is it not on Bashspirt’s new website?
But wait! Here’s something else I found – a brand film from the early 2010s:
If the video isn’t there anymore, don’t worry.
It’s basically just a few shots of a bunch of berries set to Larionov’s “Kalinka”:
There are some shots of the bottle:
And in the end it says IN RUSSIAN TRADITIONS:
Okay, back to our 2012 review of Kalinovaya vodka. Little did I know how much I would love this one. The vodka itself was of solid quality, nothing overly exciting, but solid. Maybe it could have been a bit more smooth.
The aftertaste materialized as a hint of sweetness floating through my head. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that it was supposed to be viburnum and red raspberry. But it was there, and it was pleasant.
Here it is, though: the bottle! Look at it! I just loved the birds and the berries and everything else about it. This was the most beautiful bottle I had ever seen. Better than Belvedere or Crystal Head.
Oh, and at 13€ for 700ml, the price was good, too.
Get this, and you will have a bottle of good vodka. And once you’ve finished it, you’ll have a beautiful bottle.