Each year in London, some of the most seasoned palates in the alcohol industry come together to sample through thousands of liquid entries from across the globe. The event is called the International Wine and Spirits Competition and the annual results, when published, can make or break a brand.
We’ve continually reported on IWSC winners across the various subcategories of whisky: scotch, Irish, bourbon, rye. But now it’s time to look at what those judges had to say of the vodka space. Because there’s one release in particular that was quite unexpected.
The bottle in question is Prosperous Vodka, crafted by the Kriol Distillery. What makes it so noteworthy? Well, for starters it earned an incredible score of 99 out of 100. That’s enough to set it apart as not only the highest rated vodka at the competition, but also one of the highest rated spirits across all categories. No entry received a perfect 100, and only 10 expressions in total matched it at 99 points.
But perhaps an even more notable fact about Prosperous is where it comes from. The Kriol Distillery, makers of the product, are based just outside of Praia—the capital city of Cabo Verde. Readers who are well-versed in geography already know that this is a small island nation about 350 miles off the coast of Western Africa. There are very few out there, however, who would equate this landscape with world-class vodka.
It’s time for that to change. Because, as the judges at IWSC have made clear, there is incredible spirit coming from this part of the world. Just listen to the glowing praise they heaped upon Prosperous:
“An enticing nose with bready aromas. A tingle of warmth from the spice greets you on the palate, complementing a pleasing grain backbone. Nicely textured and enjoyable to drink.”
That’s certainly a detailed bit of tasting notes for a style of spirit which is often derided as being “flavorless.” The secret sauce for Prosperous is that it’s crafted from a special variety of wheat. This imparts upon the liquid a soft sort of creaminess—along with those aforementioned bready aromas. By comparison, the most popular brands of US-based vodkas, including Smirnoff and Tito’s, are all corn distillates.
Legally, vodka can be distilled from just about any ingredient. And it’s important to remember that when approaching the shelves of your local liquor store. Don’t assume that great expressions have to come from colder climate origins; predictable places like Eastern Europe.
Indeed, sensational vodka is hitting the bottle all across the globe—from Japan to Southern Argentina. And, yes, far-flung tropical isles like Cabo Verde.
Getting your hands on Prosperous in the US isn’t too much of a challenge, either. It now enjoys a fairly wide distribution here. You’ll recognize it on shelves with its blue-hued depiction of its home country’s mountainous landscape. It sells for around $35 and forms the base of an excellent vodka martini.
Be on the lookout for more standouts from IWSC, as the annual competition gets ready to compile its rankings for 2024 later this spring.