the French sable

[40%, sampled in Germany]

I was at home trying to get my foot and my back in order, doing yoga and yoga and more yoga, when I received an email from a gentleman who had something he thought I might like: vodka. He said it was a young brand from France, and that its name was Sobolinaya. Would I like to give it a try?

Sure, I said, of course I would!

I eventually received a bottle a few days before my departure to Iran, which was a very good thing, because

  1. Iran didn’t allow any alcohol, so it was important for me to do all my drinking before
  2. free vodka, man!

the neutrality problem

So I got this one as a gift, which meant that I felt sympathetic towards it, which in turn meant that I would have to remind myself to stay neutral and give it the non-partisan treatment it deserved. It also meant that I had no idea what it cost.

I looked it up online and I found one vendor in Britain who sold 500ml for 20 pounds sterling (about 32€/700ml). Another vendor I found was in Russia, and the price was 3700 roubles for a standard 700ml bottle (52€/700ml). I figured I would just assume that the actual price was somewhere in the middle, at around 40€ for 700ml.

interesting visuals

The bottle design: Sobolinaya was being marketed as an upscale brand, and as such it would have been understandable had it gone with the ground glass finish that seemed to be so typical in this segment.

But no, this one came in a clear glass bottle, and not an ordinary one: it had a rainbow-like mother of pearl effect, which I liked. However, what I didn’t really like were the fonts and the colors used on the label. They had a clumsy feel and reminded me of the 1980s.

And then there was the sable. I could only assume that the animal in the logo was a sable (соболь or sobol was the Russian word for sable, which Sobolinaya must have gotten its name from), but it looked a bit chubby, as if it could have also been a seal.

Sobolinaya and the sweet pines

So here’s the important part: the taste and the aftertaste. Most vodkas vary in two aspects: filtration and quality of water. You don’t want it to burn in your mouth. And you want a pleasant sensation afterwards.

Sobolinaya had a faint, sweetish smell that was very promising, and it didn’t disappoint. The immediate sensation was a little bit spicy, but this turned into a mellow, sweet taste that was very agreeable. It made me think of pine trees, actually. And when it went down, it did so without a fight, almost like water. Like any good vodka should.


The aftertaste was great as well. There was a fullness and sweetness to it, something that unfolded when you breathed out through your nose and your head was slowly filled with an aroma. I liked it very much – it could have been even fuller to be perfect, but it was close.

Overall, this Sobolinaya vodka was one of more memorable ones.