Not familiar with spirits from Ukraine? No worries, neither am I, which made it that much more delightful to receive not one but two different samples for review: a vodka and a brandy. My tasting notes on each are below, followed by some information on each. Below that you will find a martini I made using both, inspired by trying something new, and I call it the Khortytsa Meets Odessa Martini.

Khortytsa Platinum Vodka Tasting

Very clean aromas that reminded me of sliced Persian cucumber, a wisp of clove, black licorice and maybe even a bit of lime. The spirit alone on the palate presented flavors that called up memories of lime, vanilla bean, toasted marshmallow and licorice. Very nice. 89 Eve pts.

About Khortytsa Platinum Vodka

Ukraine’s famed Khortytsa (Hor-Ti-Tsa) Vodka is recognized as one of the world’s leading vodkas, but is still a relative newcomer to the American market, imported to the United States by Global Spirits USA.

Although new to the US market, the Khortytsa Distillery is well known globally.  In fact, it was named among the world’s best distilleries at the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition (NYISC).  Only 19 of the world’s leading distilleries were recognized with this high honor… It uses a local organic filter containing schungite (a unique natural mineral) which allows it to get as close as possible to the structure of natural water.  The filtration process is further enhanced with special birch and alder-tree charcoal and quartz sand sourced near the famous Ural Mountains.

Odessa VSOP Brandy Tasting

Much easier to get aromas and flavors from a brandy over a vodka - as the latter is supposed to be clear and tasteless. The Odessa had aromas of orange peel, cream, sweet pears, caramel, milk chocolate covered macadamia nuts, honey and toasted almond - if you are a Good Humor ice cream fan this one is for you. On the palate – so smooth, with very little burn, I got the same sweet cream and nut qualities as on the nose, with a lingering honeyed finish. Wholly very pleasant. Would love over vanilla ice cream. 94 Eve pts.

About Odessa VSOP Brandy

Odessa is named after a major seaport in the Ukraine, known as the "pearl of the Black Sea," which was founded in 1794 by a decree of the Empress Catherine the Great… The Shustov Distillery is considered one of Europe’s largest distilleries to use traditional Alembic Charentais copper pot stills, and has the biggest production capacity not only in the Ukraine and CIS countries, but also in Europe.  It remains the oldest brandy distillery in the Ukraine and houses the country’s largest collection of oak barrels with over 60,000 barrels made from French, Hungarian and western Ukrainian oak.

Odessa is produced from spirits distilled from white grape varietals including Rkatsiteli, Aligoté and Pinot varieties…(and) is distilled using the traditional French “Charentais” – or double fractional distillation – in copper pot stills.  The heart of the distillate is then carefully selected to be bottled and aged, enhancing the delicate and refined aroma that is the signature of its white grape varietals.  The spirit then ages in oak barrels for at least five years.

Khortytsa Meets Odessa Martini

When I make a Martini it’s two parts the main spirit, typically gin or vodka, and ¼ part vermouth. When I want to switch things up I replace the vermouth with other spirits or liqueurs like Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, Rhum Clement or Lillet Blanc, so it seemed a good mix to do the same here. It came out just as I expected, a vodka martini with just the right touch of toasted marshmallow and roasted macadamia nut - without the sweetness that other martinis can have if they were to add these ingredients.

Two parts Khortytsa Platinum vodka

¼ part Odessa VSOP Brandy

Pour over ice in martini shaker

Garnish with lemon slice

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com