Spirits Review: Balls Vodka

Image credit: Anthony Beal

Vodka is typically a quiet affair, which can sometimes make its merits seem hard to quantify. Its best iterations are not characterized by summoning armies of bold fruit or wood flavors to march across the palate. They aren’t defined by how much they smell like fresh-cut grass or peat or toasted malt or any of the other aromatics familiar to wine and spirits connoisseurs. Vodka’s best foot is thrust forward by the degree to which it does not express any of these things, by how closely it hews to being a clear, colorless, virtually odorless, pure spirit. Its virtue is further determined by how ably it vanishes into chosen mixers, nudging up cocktail alcohol levels without altering the interplay of existing ingredient flavors. With regard to intrinsic purity as well as playing unheard, unseen benefactor to any drink it joins, Balls Vodka excels.

Although its name tends to conjure images of brash good times lived out loud (or perhaps of profiles in testicular fortitude) and provide easy, unapologetic pun fodder, Balls Vodka feels mellow, almost ruminative, on the palate, a characteristic aided by barely-there intimations of aromatic sweetness and a texture that is creamy and round. An 80-proof grain spirit, its taste is clean and clear, untouched by artificial flavors or unpleasant burning. Balls Vodka accomplishes the laudable feat of bringing the heat without the fire. It goes down warm yet smoothly, whether sipped chilled and neat or in mixed drinks. I have reveled with confidence in putting my Balls into kamikazes and in tropical fruit juice blends, and even applying my Balls to glasses of sparkling wine.

One complaint I too often hear levied against vodka is that it tastes like nothingness. And while much of what I’ve said up until this point might seem to reinforce that notion, I want to make clear that while lack of overt flavors is to be expected of vodkas in general, texture (apart from the aforementioned modulation of alcoholic heat intensity) is what generally separates bad vodka from good, or good vodka from very good to great. Speaking in terms of texture, I would venture to call Balls Vodka a very good spirit. Lush and full in the mouth, it pours with a pleasing viscosity, its heavy cream-like consistency lending weight and dignity to a spirit that can come off thin and astringent when mishandled.

In an age when some vodka manufacturers seem dedicated to mortifying their spirits with unneeded, gimmicky flavors (surely no human event of importance has ever hinged upon making vodka taste as much like wasabi or birthday cake as possible), Balls Vodka is a four-times-distilled mouthful of fresh air.

Get some Balls at http://www.ballsvodka.com/

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