Reviving An Era of Craft Distillation
Polugar is a more ancient type of spirit. It is quite different from modern vodka, rather more akin to legendary Russian bread wine, the noble father of vodka. It is said that the first Moscow tavern allowed to serve distilled liquor in Russia was exclusively reserved for the oprichniki, Ivan the Terrible’s secret police. Throughout Russian history, vodka was similar to whiskey; the smell and flavor reminiscent of freshly baked bread, heavily exhibiting the grains used to make it, and was known as bread wine.
In 1895 Tsar Alexander III decreed to have all pot stills in Russia broken down. Subsequently, distillation processes were restricted to government licensed and taxed column stills, establishing the method for producing the crystalline, less nuanced spirit that we now know as vodka today.
The Rodionov family spearheaded a movement to restore the traditional grain spirits enjoyed during the golden age of Russia. Boris Rodionov, a renowned academic and vodka historian, discovered the original recipe for the national bread wine spirit. With legislation forbidding the Polugar style of grain distillation in Russia, the Rodionov family restored an old distillery tucked away in a forest in Poland to reestablish the glory of the legendary spirit.
Each Polugar selection is produced in accordance with an authentic recipe from the 18th century, using carefully selected grains and naturally pure water.
Single Grain Series
Each Polugar Single Grain selection is distilled three times in copper pot stills that were meticulously reproduced from 18th century drawings. The distillate then undergoes a labor-intensive and expensive egg-white purification process, a popular method used by the Russian aristocracy in the 1700s. A long purification process ensues using birch wood charcoal.
The bottle is designed after Queen Elizabeth’s personal snuff-bottle, circa 1745, that is on exhibit at the Russian National Museum.
Pairing: Salt-cured meats, roast pork, ham hock, sausage dishes, mushroom roulade, lamb, humus and black bread, and traditional Eastern European soups like sour cabbage and borscht. Best served slightly chilled. 38.5% alc/vol
Polugar Single Malt Rye
A true masterpiece of legendary bread wine, Polugar Single Malt Rye is a unique blend of select single malt rye distillates. This fine, authentic grain spirit is appreciated worldwide by vodka aficionados and connoisseurs of elite spirits.
Polugar Single Malt Rye is produced using select rye malt and natural water that is not chemically purified.
Nose: Bright, rich and bready. Whispers of warm, home-baked goods, rye crackers, coriander, malt, honey, grains, new grasses and wildflowers.
Palate: Pleasantly complex. Gentle notes of fresh rye bread, linden honey, meadow grasses and grains. Slight rye bitterness.
Finish: Smooth, warm and very prolonged with bright notes of rye bread, honey, sweet almonds and wildflowers.
“Totally colorless; flawlessly clean and pure. Right out of the aromatic gate the scent is juicy, almost citrusy, slightly smoked, peppery, prickly high in the nasal cavity, and stony/mineral-like; second passes pick up sweet-and-sour sauce, soy sauce, pickle brine, dill, sage, bay leaf, eucalyptus, bacon fat – I mean, this could go on all day. Entry is creamy in texture, rich in candy flavors, especially malted milk ball and nougat, and is nicely baked without being burnt or sulphury; midpalate is toasty, sweeter than the entry taste, meaty, densely grainy I malty all the way deep into the finish, which is long, lush, slightly roasted/ toasty, just a smidgen spicy, and plump with malted rye. A landmark for rye based vodka.” Highest Recommendation F.Paul Pacult
Polugar Classic Rye
Polugar Classic Rye is another expression of legendary Russian bread wine brought back to life using the traditional recipes and distillation methods from the 18th and 19th centuries. Classic Rye Polugar is produced using select coarse-milled rye and natural water that is not chemically purified.
Nose: Fresh, bright and bready. Comforting aroma of home-baked goods, rye crust, rye bread, dill, caraway and pickling spices. Tones of thick malt, buckwheat honey, freshly baked bread, grains, fresh grasses, and wildflowers.
Palate: Warming, soft taste of rye bread, slightly sweet with notes of honey and spice. A slightly grassy bitterness.
Finish: Prolonged and warming, with bright notes of rye bread, salt and pepper hints, hazelnuts, almonds and honey with light botanical bitterness.
“Colorless; impeccable clarity. My initial impression is one of rye bread without caraway seeds and also rye toast that’s just slightly burnt at the edge, but as the aroma mingles with air it grows in intensity; by the second passes, the aroma is keenly peppery, round, slightly fruity and ripe and pleasantly engaging. Entry is completely dry, tightly wound, intensely grainy and rye bread-like, with sideline notes of snack cracker (Ryvita comes to mind in a nanosecond) and rye toast; midpalate mirrors the entry, adding little more to the in-mouth phases except for a taste of freshly ground black pepper. Aftertaste is spicy, lean, desert dry, and slightly toasty.” Highly Recommended F.Paul Pacult
94 points · Finalist · Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016
4 Stars · Difford’s Guide
Unlike its rye-based counterparts, Polugar Wheat is made solely from wheat grain, both malted and non-malted, giving the spirit a texture that is plump and broad. A sweet richness sings through grassy fields and stone fruit.
Nose: Mild, round, light and delicate. Warm wheat crumbs, grain and bread notes. Hay, dry grass, salt, pickled cabbage and semisweet honey.
Palate: Clean and measured, but doesn’t hold back. Slightly salty-grassy nuances are dominated by kolach, a traditional Ukrainian bread. Wonderful velvetiness showing flowery, fruity notes. An elegant bitterness complements spice tones, followed by bright, persistent bread notes.
Finish: Mild grains, wheat and freshly cut white bread.
“Crystalline appearance; silvery transparent; very minor sediment – inconsequential. Oh man, the assertive breakfast cereal (Wheaties) aroma is beany (Lima, soy), waxy (candle wax), and marvelously fragrant and animated in the starting point after the pour; secondary whiffs detect deft scents of apple, white grape, and yellow plum – this is an intriguing bouquet that I simply don’t want to end. Entry is clean, dry, deeply grainy and breakfast cereal-like, raisiny, acutely ripe; midpalate echoes the entry findings, adding a potent, apple-like acidity that maintains the freshness well and long into the satisfying finish that is dry yet is more bountiful than austere. Simply delicious.” Highest Recommendation F.Paul Pacult
4.5 Stars · Difford’s Guide · ‘Excellent’
This small batch numbered series is carefully crafted using select Russian rye and wheat grains. Only natural raw products are distilled to obtain the pure essence of each flavor. The spirit is triple-distilled in copper pot stills manufactured from 18th and 19th century diagrams. The precious distillate undergoes further refining using natural birch charcoal. 38.5% alc/vol
Polugar Nº 1 Rye & Wheat
Nose: Bready aroma of home baking.
Palate: Delicate, slightly sweet, warming soft taste of rye and wheat bread, crackers and bread crust with bread-honey notes.
Finish: Long-lasting, dominated by hints of wheat bread, with notes of grains, meadow grasses, warm home baking, fresh hay and warm bread crumbs.
Pairing: Borscht, cabbage or pickle soup, meat pie, caviar crêpes, beef stroganoff, and sausage dishes. Recommended as base spirit in Manhattans and Cosmopolitans.
“Perfect purity; limpid and clean. Smelling this aroma right after the Wheat and the Rye makes the case that blending might be the way to go because this fragrance takes the finest virtues of both and transforms it into something magically enticing, grainy, floral, fruity (baked and/or dried), parchment-like, and herbal I woodsy just in the first inhalations; secondary whiffs reaffirm the majesty of the first passes and adds traces of pine sap, wet leaves, moss, and lichen – a complex bouquet of the first rank. Entry is silky, smooth, acidic but fruity and waxy if a touch lesser than the promise discovered in the supple bouquet; midpalate is round, alluringly minerally and stony and therefore dusty dry but I kept hoping for the fastball down the middle and it didn’t come. Finishes more mineral-like than cereal-like, but with a subtle under-the-radar flurry of fruit pulp ripeness that seems to come out of nowhere. One of the best unflavored vodka aromas around.” Highly Recommended F.Paul Pacult
SILVER WSWA 2016
Polugar Nº 2 Garlic & Pepper
The Polugar No 1 precious rye and wheat is refined using birch charcoal, and then the distillate is infused with natural, essential oils of garlic and hot pepper following the 19th century recipe. Intense aroma and its inimitable bready flavor make this an outstanding selection to accompany fine, Eastern European cuisine.
Nose: Bright aromas of baked garlic and hot pepper.
Palate: Warming taste of baked garlic, hot pepper, wheat and rye bread.
Finish: Prolonged finish with notes of garlic and spices complementing delicate shades of grains and bread.
Pairing: Dressed herring, meat pastries, barrel pickles, vinaigrette salad, lamb stew, borscht and smoked meats. Recommended as base spirit in Bloody Marys.
“I notice low-level sediment in the core, but hardly enough to be detrimental to the otherwise transparent appearance. As someone who believes in the cooking and physiological merits of garlic, this frontline aroma is heavenly in its authentic garlic depiction, but it’s the combination of the garlic and chili pepper that creates an ideal flavored vodka bouquet right from the start; as time wears on, it’s the chili pepper piquancy that comes to rule the aromatic day as the crushed garlic aspect becomes the underlying support player; a brilliantly conceived and executed bouquet. Entry is coyly garlicky yet there’s a chili pepper flare-up from the capsaicin that’s manageably warm but not fiery; midpalate is appealingly embers-warm from the chili influence that pushes the garlic presence forward, sending it propelled into the aftertaste that is savory, zesty, calmer than I thought it might be and honorably balanced in its depiction of the two flavors. A superbly crafted flavored vodka.” Highest Recommendation F.Paul Pacult
SILVER WSWA 2016
5 Stars · Difford’s Guide · ‘Exceptional’
Polugar Nº 3 Caraway
Produced following the classic recipe of 19th century Russian highborn vodkas. Polugar №3 Caraway is based on Polugar Classic Rye with caraway and coriander added before the third distillation, with a delectable taste reminiscent of classic Borodinsky bread.
Borodinsky bread is a dark brown, sourdough rye bread of Russian origin, traditionally sweetened with molasses and flavored with coriander and caraway seeds.
Nose: Rich bouquet of Borodinsky bread, spicy and dense. Dry grass, abundant caraway, coriander, dried dill, dried spices, wild flowers, cut grass, prune notes, mulberry echoes, acacia, black pepper, dough, hint of citrus peel.
Palate: Refreshing, open, soft, complex, balanced, gourmet, embracing, balanced, bright, slightly sweet and elegant.
Finish: Slightly sweet, notes of dill and coriander as well as citrus, showing dark bread crust, rye notes above a predominantly caraway background.
Pairing: Perfect with sauerkraut, lightly salted spiced fish, salmon with herbs, pickled herring, and is a good accompaniment to duck and dark buttered bread. Enjoy with a cigar misted in port wine. Excellent as an aperitif or after a meal. Chill slightly before serving. Recommended as base spirit in Mojitos.
“Unblemished purity; sediment free. Wow, the essence of caraway is striking in its genuineness and seed-like bitterness, hitting the right chord in the first nosing passes; secondary whiffs pick up even deeper and denser seed characteristics as the oiliness of the caraway emerges as though the seed were crushed right in the sampling glass – amazing authenticity. Entry is supple in texture, radiantly seed-like, properly and delicately bitter, lightly toasted, marginally oily; midpalate reflects the entry impressions to a tee, adding a toastier edge than noticed in the entry. Aftertaste loses the textural oiliness, but the taste remains focused entirely on the savory caraway.” Highly Recommended F.Paul Pacult
SILVER WSWA 2016
4 Stars · Difford’s Guide
Gold Medal · Best of Class · Best of Category
Craft Spirits Awards · American Distilling Institute
92 points · Finalist · Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016
Polugar Nº 4 Honey & Allspice
Triple distillation of a home brew of rye and wheat in a copper pot still to which allspice and hot peppers are added before the third distillation. As specified by the aristocratic recipe of the 19th century, the liquid is carefully purified using birch wood charcoal with a final addition of a dose of honey.
Nose: Sophisticated, delicate, sweet aroma of aromatic pepper and meadow honey, white flower notes, spices, white pepper, bay leaf, pickling brine, peaches, apricots, cinnamon, nutmeg and warm bread.
Palate: Tender, embracing, spiced, refined, with pleasant hotness. Honey, rum, sweet sugar syrup, spice, dill, ginger, sweets and rye bread. Enticing mint and fine notes of pickle.
Finish: Rounded, mild and sweet with honey, spice, ginger, nutmeg and rye bread crust.
Pairing: Winter warming selection. Refined accompaniment to gourmet Eastern European dishes and full-flavored appetizers. The superb alcohol spice complements baked white fish, mashed potatoes, crab cakes, seafood soups, and roasted leg of lamb. Recommended as base spirit in Apple Martinis.
“I like the faint bisque/electrum tint; flawless clarity; very pretty appearance. In the opening sniffs, the zestiness of the allspice is unmistakably present, but it’s the honey component that is the foundation of this ultra-sensual early aroma; with more time in the glass, the bouquet evolves into an amaro- or a bitters-like fragrance as the allspice piquancy stimulates the olfactory mechanism; a one-of-a-kind bouquet of the highest order. Entry features more of the honey element upfront than the allspice, but there’s enough of the spiciness accounted for which balances the honey impact; midpalate is tangy, as the honey fades leaving the flavor door wide open for the bitterness of the allspice. Finishes long, bitter, spicy, herbal.” Highly Recommended F.Paul Pacult
4 Stars · Difford’s Guide