Smirnoff Black

I wrote a while back on the Smirnoff Black event I attended and the efforts that felt a bit like a brand relaunch of the Black bottle here in the Australian market. I didn’t mention much about the product itself so I thought I’d dive in a little deeper and let you know my thoughts.

I remember my first taste of the Black being around the James Bond film, I think I even remember the Martini Briefcase that was rolled out to support the brand and the movies launch.

Smirnoff have saved a bit of money on the bottle, bring costs down so the product can compete more squarely against the others in the mass premium category (namely 42Below and Absolut). Produced in the UK at the Diageo distillery that also knocks out my favourite gin, Tanqueray.

This is not tasteless, odorless spirit. The use of a pot still imparts a sweetness and depth that sets it apart from the others in its class. (42 probably wins on the traditional notions I have for vodka, but this is a vodka that has got me excited in mixing to accentuate the boozy flavour, not its additives or infusions.)

Try it over ice with a dash of orange bitters, or maybe with a teaspoon of orange liqueur for something approximating a vodka Old Fashioned. Garnish with a thick orange peel.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Motel

Motel is pretty famous. Apart from being the home of Gunpowder Rum, denying elfin princess Liv Tyler entry and having one of the most impressive back bars of any bar, anywhere, Motel is the only place 42 Below vodka Professor Jacob Briars has ever been fired from mutually agreed with management that it is time to move on.

I pressed him for details, but he evaded my inquisition with a deft and ruthless efficiency. In the absence of fact, I’ll just have to make something up. This is the small chance I had imbibed to much to remember his tale, but that’s not how I recall things.

Knowing Jacob as a man of principle, I suspect he went under duress, fighting for the rights of the disestablished proletariat. For those of you unburdened by a comprehensive legal and political indoctrination like the one you would find, at say, Victoria University atop Wellington’s ivory hills, I’ve included the following diagram to assist you.

Despite his forebears land ownership in the lilting valleys near the Orinoco Flow, Jacob maintains a fanatical belief in a governments ability to perpetuate bureaucracy, thereby creating enough jobs to employ everyone for a period of approximately six days before the collapse of the economy and the reversion to subsistence farming.

It was in this vein then , that Jacob went into bat for poor Roger ‘Tom’ Thumb, nightsoilman, cabin boy and erstwhile dishbrush at Motel. Seeing the poor lad ruled, fooled and shot at, without a scrap to eat, Jacob stepped in with an ultimatum – “Conditions improve, or I’m out of here”

The downside of this tale is all Roger’s, I’m afraid. Doomed to a life amongst the Lumpen-proletariat, he was not heard from again. Jacob however stayed true to his working class principles, flogging pricey grain spirit, flavoured with an old French perfumers technique and contributing an admirable 46 tonnes of carbon to the Earth’s atmosphere, on a weekly basis. It is surely true what they say, the way to fight the system is from inside it.

Segue over, Motel is one of Wellington’s finest bars, and Ben Simpson, one of its finest tenders. Seriously a must visit to see the experiments underway (3yr old pear infused vodka, a highlight), to drink the history of a place, and perhaps a few Gunpowder draughts as well.

A must visit while you’re in town.

Level 1/4th Forresters Lane, Te Aro 6011, New Zealand‎ – (04) 384 9084‎

On Google Maps here.