king of the bison
This is a review of Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka from Poland. I sampled it in Germany in 2012. It’s a greenish infusion, 37.5% alcohol, and I thought it was just good as the legends had foretold.
Finally, the legendary Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka (Zubrowka for the lazy ones). I had waited a long time for this one.
Remember when I tried Grasovka, the bison grass infused vodka that is so popular in Germany? I liked the aftertaste of the infusion but not the taste of the vodka itself. Well, this one, Grasovka’s big brother from Poland, was supposed to be much better.
an odd dependency on a social network
As we found out during our review of Green Mark, the Żubrówka brand is currently owned by Roust. Roust is a Russian company that belongs to Roustam Tariko, the businessman who created Russian Standard. This isn’t odd. Brands get bought and sold all the time. Żubrówka belongs to the Polish Central European Distribution Corporation (CEDC), which got bought by Roust in 2013. Fine.
What’s odd is that Żubrówka doesn’t have its own website. Roust has a rather unceremonious product page for it:
One thing I took away from this is that they recently updated the bottle design a bit. But that’s about it.
And here’s where it gets even weirder – when you type zubrowka.com into your browser, it actually redirects you to the official Żubrówka Facebook page:
I mean… really? Why would a massive brand like Żubrówka exclusively depend on a social network for its outreach? Is it because of engagement? Well, let’s see, the page has about a quarter of a million followers, but the average post only gets a few dozen likes:
Honestly, I don’t know what the marketing team at Żubrówka is thinking. Or is it the marketing team at CEDC? Or at Roust? Anyway, this just seems dumb.
Poles (still) drink Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka
I had heard about it before. “Don’t even bother drinking Grasovka!” my friends from Poland had told me, “we have something much better!” They were talking about Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka. So I was excited to try this.
But with Grasovka basically having the German market for bison-grass infused vodka in a stranglehold, it was a bit hard to find Żubrówka at first. I only ended up with my own bottle thanks to an invention that has brought us limitless amounts of porn and trolling: the internet. Yes, I ordered my bottle of Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka online. I’m millennial like that.
So what did it taste like, you ask? Well, here’s my anwer: it was fuckin A.
Unlike Grasovka, which was only good in the aftertaste, Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka went down smooth like water from a mountain spring. And the aftertaste was better than awesome – it was perfect. Perfect, I tell you!
I liked the bottle design, and it came at a very affordable price of about 11€ for 700ml.
Overall, this is one of the best vodka brands I have ever tried. Do yourself a favor and try it!
the problem with changing tastes
But wait! Here’s an edit that I’m making in October 2021: my original review of Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka was from 2012, one year before Roust acquired CEDC. And lately, my Polish friends have been complaining. They say the taste of Żubrówka just isn’t as good anymore.
I think there are three possible scenarios now.
- The taste hasn’t changed, and it’s all in my friends’ heads.
- The taste has changed, and it’s because of the acquisition. It would be interesting to find out what happened, though.
- The taste has changed, and it’s because of the US market.
The US market? Well, according to Wikipedia, Żubrówka used to be illegal in the States because it contained coumarin. This was until 2011, when the recipe for Żubrówka was altered in a way that it didn’t contain coumarin anymore, but the taste supposedly stayed the same.
Did it really stay the same, though?
But wait, there is something that doesn’t add up. If they changed the recipe in 2011, and I did my original review in 2012, then the likelihood is quite high that I have never actually tasted the original Żubrówka that contained coumarin. So this creates the possible fourth scenario:
4. The taste has changed, and it’s because of either scenario 2 or scenario 3 – but I have only tried the new taste, so I can’t tell the difference anyway.
Maybe I should sample a new bottle?