That is what I like in the wine and spirits … There is always a discovery ! Of new smells, new tastes but also of new stories and sometimes the renaissance of a disappearedproduct… This is the case of the Polugar. As the tone may suggest, this alcohol comes from Russia. You will say that the national drink is Vodka! You are right … But the Polugar was the Vodka in the time of Ivan the Terrible or Dostoyevsky!! The mode of production is different, the taste also …
Presented for the first time in Europe during the lounge of the Whisky in Paris this weekend at the end of September, the Polugar will be distributed by the House of the Whisky! Then a little patience … In the meantime, turn on your chapkas, direction the Kremlin!
“Father of the Vodka, Brother of the Whisky“
Lets try to discover what is the Polugar thanks to several questions…
But why this alcohol has disappeared? Simply because it has been banned from 1895 onwards when the emergence of the monopoly state. In fact, the ethyl alcohol corrected is imposed for the production of vodka with the column stills. Today, a Russian law still prohibits the traditional distillation of the grain unless the grain alcohol is ultra-pure (96 %). Then the Polugar is produced in Poland.
What means Polugar ? In Russian, Polugar means “half burned wine of bread”. A small funny experience can be conducted as part of understanding this meaning. Pour a little Polugar in your hand’s hollow and rub vigorously with the other until it is dry and hot. Then you can smell what is closed to bread flavor !
Father of the Vodka ? OK ! But brother of Whisky ? Manufactured via a traditional know-how, this alcohol is cited in the classical Russian literature. With an alcohol level of 38.5 %, this ‘wine of bread’ has a predominant aroma of refined and aromatic rye bread. The manufacturing process is similar to the whisky (traditional pot stills, rye or wheat and wild water as well as traditional patch) but the aging does not happen in barrels. A filtration with white egg is achieved, which brings softness in the mouth.
The Rodionov family has managed to reintroduce this Kings drink. A former distillery has therefore been rehabilitated in order to produce the Polugar. Located in the middle of the forest near a palace, the distillery is lost in the middle of nowhere ! It is Boris Rodionov, famous Russian historian of the vodka that has discovered the recipe in a book of the XVIIIth century.
– Polugar Single Malt Rye, 38,5%
From a triple distillation of rye or of corn in copper stills manufactured according to models of the 18th century, the Polugar then undergoes a filtration to egg white (complicated and expensive process that was appreciated by the rich Russian owners) and a purification to birch coal.
The color is pure such from the crystal clear water, the nose is intense, suave with a brioche and spicy flavors. I feel the honey with intensity. The mouth is gentle but powerful with flavors of lime and honey. There is a slight bitterness in the finish, it’s persistent and leaves notes of almond and rye bread.
– Polugar Classic Rye, 38,5%
This Polugar is the classical one made with crushed malted rye and wild water. It has been distilled three times, always in a copper still and knows a filtration with egg white and a treatment with birch coal.
The color is transparent and the nose looks fresher. Always intense with flavors of pine, dill, honey and flower. There is a certain softness. The mouth is delicate on the rye bread. I remains fixed on the taste of warm thick honey. The whole thing is nice with a persistent finish which is a little saline maybe. The very end is on dried fruits like hazelnut or almond.
– Polugar Wheat, 38,5%
Produced with a triple distillation of malted wheat grain non-malted ones in a copper still, this Polugar has also been treated with egg white and birch coal.
The color is always translucent ! Difficult to make the difference between the three Polugars. By contrast, the nose is more smooth due to its basic cereal : the wheat. There are notes of dried herbs, honey, grains. It is curious and complex. The mouth is gentle but frank with white bread, fruit and flowers notes. It is elegant with a finish slightly bitter on the white bread.
For the food matching with Polugar, I can advise you (thanks to the charming Polish I asked) soups (pickles, sour cabbage, solyanka, ukha), fatty fish, white meats, mashed potato with butter, hummus and black bread… Apparently, the Polugar is drank during the entire meal and sometimes straight !
There are also a range of flavored Polugar (photo above) : Rye & Wheat, Garlic & Chili, Cumin & Caraway and Honey & Spices … I have not tested but wasn’t really attracted by the garlic and the chili one !!