an oxygen-enriched knockoff
This is a review of Ozon vodka from Kyrgyzstan. I sampled it in Kyrgyzstan in 2014. It’s clear, 40% alcohol, produced by Ayu, and I couldn’t taste any oxygen.
I went to Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 2014. The plan was to look around and get a feel for Central Asia before walking through it on The Longest Way. I arrived in Bishket on a warm September afternoon, got a room in a hostel, and went outside. That’s when I found this bottle of Ozon vodka.
It took me a while to find any information about Ozon vodka. Then I stumbled upon an article on Kaktus Media from 2016 that featured a picture of the bottle. It said that the Kyrgyz company Ayu was the producer of Ozon vodka, and that they were being investigated for copying other vodka brand designs.
So I learned a few interesting things from this. First of all, the bottle design of Ozon vodka was a definite knockoff of Vox vodka from the Netherlands. It was so obvious it felt almost insulting. Secondly, there was apparently a law in Kyrgyzstan prohibiting companies from advertising alcoholic beverages. And thirdly, as of April 2022, Ayu didn’t seem to carry Ozon vodka anymore.
what do men drink
Back to our review of Ozon vodka, though. And back to Bishkek. I went to a small shop somewhere and asked the owner: “what do you drink?”
He gave me a bottle of cognac.
So I said: “No no no, I mean VODKA, what kind of VODKA do you drink?” To which he replied that he didn’t drink vodka.
“What do men drink?” I finally asked him.
The first thing I noticed was the price. Most vodka in Kyrgyzstan is insanely cheap. Like, life-threateningly cheap. This 500ml bottle was about 180 Som, making it less than 4€ for a 700ml bottle.
When I asked people why vodka was so cheap in Kyrgyzstan, most of them said that if you made it more expensive, then people would just distill it at home, thus posing an even greater risk to public health.
Okay, so Ozon vodka it was. It said OXYGEN-ENRICHED on the label. I had always loved the idea that drinking hard liquor could somehow be good for my health. More oxygen? Yes, please!
As you can tell I don’t know enough about oxygen-enrichment to make any sort of qualified statement. What I do know is that the bottle design is such a shameless knockoff that I will award the absolute lowest score for it.
Ozon vodka isn’t bad
But the stuff itself turned out to taste surprisingly good. I keep a handwritten journal, and I carry it with me wherever I go. In it I noted that Ozon vodka didn’t taste like air at all, but that it was mild and gentle when consumed neat and at room temperature. I had it with pickled cucumbers, which was very nice. And the aftertaste was good, too. Heart-warming and aromatic.
Overall, this one is a very good vodka at a superb price.