Camitz Sparkling Vodka
I’ll be the first to admit: I am a sucker for novelty.
I will happily drink beer made of hemp or sorghum, if there’s a chance that it’ll be tasty; I will gladly mix unholy combinations of liquor, if I see even the hint of potential for new and exciting cocktail. Sure, you may look away in horror as I combine Frangelico and Jagermeister, but someone has to do it. The risks may be great, but oh, the rewards can be so rich.
Such was my state of mind when we first encountered the new Premium Liquor shelf at the local LCBO, their version of Vintages (itself essentially a section that might as well be called, “The Wines You Won’t Be Embarrassed To Buy”) for the hard booze drinking set. Oh, and what a shelf it was: vodka infused with ice wine, all manner of South American concoctions distilled from spiny plants, gins infused with botanicals that would put an apothecary into fits, not one but three different versions of Poire William… it wasn’t a question between Tina and me of whether these were items we wanted to try, but simply of which would come first.
Being the fan that I am of vodka, the great and versatile Soviet export, Tina saw my particular interest in the champagne bottles sitting on the top shelf, promising something unique and potentially quite special.
Oh yes, that’s right: Sparkling vodka.
I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, because Camitz Sparkling Vodka has actually been around for the better part of a year and a half. A product of Sweden, Camitz promises itself to be a high-grade premium vodka that uses only the highest-quality ingredients to deliver an unforgettable experience.
Before I weigh in on that kind of optimistic marketing, let’s get into the details:
- Camitz comes in a 750mL bottle, at 40% A.B.V.
- The packaging promises a 5-time distillation of the product
- There’s something in there about a special water source from a spring somewhere, but everyone says that about their vodka so I count it as filler
- All-natural carbonation source that delivers the “cleanest gas” (pardon me while I indulge my inner twelve year-old: HA HA HA HA!) available
- A promise to add a whole new meaning the word, “vodka.”
Accompanying the bottle was a handy little champagne stopper, which was particularly wonderful for our household given the amount of fizzy wine Tina enjoys, as well as an informative/hilarious informational pamphlet. Did you know, for example, that:
Camitz Sparkling Vodka matches perfectly with delicate flavors like fresh seafood, particularly sushi or raw bar favorites such as oysters and shellfish, where the elegant bubbles enhance salinity while the natural sweetness of the vodka balances acidity, creating a truly sensational taste experience.
I must salute their tactics, here.
Look, here’s the deal with pairing a liquor like this with seafood. Unless you have the absolute freshest fish available, there is bound to be some fairly heavy oceanic flavors going on — and let’s face it, if you’re not comfortable eating oysters, then even the ones straight off the boat are going to taste kind of fishy.
So when you add in the natural bitterness of something that tastes faintly of liquor and much-less-faintly of carbon dioxide, it accomplishes two things: first, it balances out “salinity” with fizzy sourness; second, it very quickly gets you to the point where you don’t much care what raw fish tastes like.
And I do mean very quickly. Tina very kindly went to the ends of the earth to secure two bottles of Camitz for us in support of our New Year’s Eve celebration, to substitute for the usual bubbly at midnight. We went to visit some friends of ours before dinner, to wish them well, and then came home to have a spectacular meal (of shellfish, appropriately enough) to kick off our own festivities.
Up to that point, we probably had a couple of glasses of wine apiece, and perhaps a cocktail. There were some movies on TV that we’d queued up, there was a holiday episode of Iron Chef America we were keen to watch, and we felt very much that the stage was set. We enthusiastically popped open the first bottle of Camitz, after letting it chill to the suggested 4°C, and mixed up one of the suggested fizzy recipes.
Twenty minutes later, Tina was curled in a ball, asleep on the couch. I would have been too, if my head hadn’t been bothering me so much.
It was at that moment that my own warning about clean vodka came racing back to my mind. Anything that carries a unique flavor, promising a life-changing experience and suggesting that you chill it below the point where you can taste its flavor should have raised a red flag.
But… bubbles! Champagne-y packaging! There was a cork!
Above: A cork. I should have known.
Had we poured it out straight into a champagne flute and sipped heartily, I could understand why we might be incapacitated only minutes later. Bubbles aside, Camitz is still straight-on vodka, and one mustn’t feel any illusions about what that can do to a brain.
But when it’s mixed with juice, or in any of the suggested Cosmopolitan / Champagne Cocktail / Appletini configurations suggested with the bottle? Shouldn’t the head-slamming impact be blunted, if the vodka is so premium? Shouldn’t there be no head-slamming impact at all, if it’s from the sainted springs of wherever and filtered five times over?
Unless… it’s not good vodka at all.
Wise-assing aside, I genuinely wish I could say that this was as delightful an experience as it was a hypothetical concept. The idea of a vodka that could be fizzy without the necessity of diluting it with soda seems so pure and good on the surface, and yet the reality was sour and exhausting.
When a drink fails to get past my nose, a nose willing to forgive a great deal in the name of novelty, that has to be taken seriously. As much as I love the idea of Camitz Sparkling Vodka, I have a hard time accepting the reality.
Rating: 3 corks out of 5.