20111208

Pinnacle Vodka Review: Cake, Whipped, Gummy, Atomic Hots


Pinnacle Vodka was kind enough to send me a few samples of their large line up of flavored vodkas this week.  It was like an early Christmas opening up the box and finding four lovely blue bottles of their flavored libations.  They sent me the Cake, the Atomic Hots, The Gummy and the Whipped (cream) vodkas, fulfilling a nice little chunk of my Christmas Wish List in one box.

I am not an expert on liquor but I do have quite a few years experience of creating and drinking martinis, and I have some culinary training, so when it comes to making a tasty cocktail, I have some fairly credible experience.  Give me a decent vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, gin or any other standard liquor and a well stocked fridge, spice rack and garden and I can (and have) come up with hundreds of unique and exciting martinis for just about any palate or occasion!

Up until lately I have not been tempted into adding many of these newer branded flavored vodkas to my bar.  First, I do a lot of my own infusions and, second, I simply thought names like whipped, cake, purple and the like were just new marketing terms for simple one-flavor vodka infusions. I was wrong.

I have to say I'm very pleasantly surprised by the samples Pinnacle sent me, they all had fairly complex flavor profiles, some definitely distinct aromas wafting up from the bottles (good nose), the equivalent of a decent vodka afterburn and the first sip of each was like similar to a cordial or sipping liqueur.  These newer vodka infusions/flavors do remind me more of liqueurs than true vodka infusions as they are sweet and slightly sticky, unlike pure vodka or most simple flavor infusions. I won't get into the technical specifics here, I leave that to the chemical booze geeks, though I will tell you the alcohol volume on these vodkas is 35% as opposed to 40% for plain vodkas.

The first thing that struck me with these particular flavors was the fact that you don't have to get overly complicated to create a tasty drink as the vodkas themselves have a fairly complex flavor profile on their own.  The Whipped and the Cake in particular should make a variety of really nice martinis with the addition of one or two simple mixers and an interesting garnish.  This makes these vodkas a wonderful addition to the neophyte bartender or home based cocktail enthusiast because it simplifies the act of making a cocktail and alleviates the danger of a failed flavor pairing.

My personal take on each of the four:

CAKE
At Room Temperature
The nose is right there, it smells like yellow cake batter in the bowl.  The flavor less so on the first hit, it has a little bitterness at first, but the then that cake flavor rests on your tongue after the vodka slides down with a very mild burn. You can sip this one just as it is and I will do that on the nights when I don't even have the energy to shake a cocktail.
Chilled
Pretty much the same as room temp but it seemed a bit sweeter with a little more bite. The burn is the same, but the aftertaste was actually a bit stronger chilled and then I got a nice little warm blast from the burn.
Mixibility Possibilities
I can work with this.  Obviously for sweet martinis, but this will go nicely with fruits and berries, creams and some lovely spices. I might even toss a splash or two into a dessert sauce and maybe even in a savory sauce! This is a nice one for food pairings, especially desserts and fruit based appetizers. The Pinnacle CAKE Vodka can definitely take up room in my bar any day.

Check out some of the cocktails I've created using Cake Vodka.

WHIPPED
At Room Temperature
This was my favorite of all of the four.  The nose on this was a rich, buttery, almost caramel like aroma that made my mouth water - always a good thing as the nose is the first part of any cocktail experience. If I ever run out of my Madagascar Vanilla Extract I will be using the Pinnacle Whipped as a substitute! (What? You didn't know most flavor extracts contained alcohol???) I think this is a tad bit sweeter than the cake, nicely warms your mouth with a rich buttery element, has a bit of a burn going down and less of an aftertaste than the cake. You can definitely sip this one right out of the bottle at room temp and be pretty darn content without having to go to any work unless you want to pour it into a shot glass. Not only that, try pairing this with a shot of espresso like I did - Whee Doggies! I don't know how Pinnacle did it but they got that "cream" experience in a non-creamy liquor so you can save some calories by not adding dairy!

Chilled
The nose was a little more subdued chilled than cold and the buttery element also, though the caramel profile came through nice and clear.  As as sipper I would prefer this one room temp.  The interesting thing was a bit of a chocolate back taste on this just before I swallowed but I think that might have come from the creamy quality which remains in the chilled Whipped vodka.
Mixibility Possibilities
I think the possibilities with the Whipped are almost endless. Already I have a couple of martini recipes using it with coffee and I can see this added a great deal of depth to most cocktail recipes calling for vanilla vodka. It will go with all fruits, creams, most spices as well as blend nicely with other liqueurs.  I'm already thinking how nice it will work with my Candied Pecan Liqueur, my homemade Pumpkin Liqueur and my Vanilla Bean Liqueur to name a few.  It will rock the Casbah with whiskey (think a Whipped Irish Coffee) and will play nicely with rum as well as other flavored vodkas. I'm going to try it out in several of my recipes that call for plain vanilla vodka like my Key Lime Pie Martini and others. I'm definitely going to serve this as a cordial with flan or crème brûlée, in fact anything with caramel would work with this. Overall I think this is the most versatile of the four samples I received and I won't let my bar stand empty of it from this point on.

Check out some of the cocktails I've created using Whipped Cream Vodka.


GUMMY
At Room Temperature
Yup, this smells and tastes pretty close to the original red Swedish Fish candies.  To me there was a definite fruit flavor but I can't really say raspberry though this is what came to mind in the nose.  It's said the Swedish Fish are flavored with Lingonberries though there's no confirmation of that.  It's been so long since I've actually had a Lingonberry I can't tell you if that is in the Gummy or not. Not my cup of tea as a sipper, but it was a mild burn going down. This was the flavor that lingered on my palate the longest of the four,  there was no bitter aftertaste but I had to cleanse my palate to get the taste out.
Chilled
Interesting, both the nose AND the flavor were stronger chilled.  In fact, chilling improves the Gummy for me tremendously. Still leaves a very strong aftertaste on the tongue but the burn was still mild.
Mixibility Possibilities
I'm a little flummoxed about the Gummy one for mixers unless you go with plain sodas, citrus fruits or maybe raspberries or other berries. I won't be blending it with creams or herbs, though some spices like nutmeg and cardamom could be interesting. This will be a fun challenge for my mixology skills! My first thought when I smelled this was to pair it with licorice (I have no idea why unless I just related it to Twizzlers, lol) which I'm definitely going to try just out of curiosity.  I'm just not sure exactly what food pairings I could do with this one. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Here's a fun cocktail I created using the Gummy Vodka: Gummy Worm Cocktail Gels in Primordial Booze!

ATOMIC HOT
At Room Temperature
First, I have to be honest and say I'm not overly fond of Cinnamon flavored booze on it's own.  I like cinnamon itself as a spice and I use cinnamon liqueurs like a spice - a little bit to pop up other flavor profiles.  I have been known to take a small flask of Hot Damn to outdoor events in the winter because it's warming but that's about the extent of it as a sipper for me.  That being said I'm replacing the Hot Damn with Pinnacle's Atomic Hots immediately as my go-to toe, tummy and finger warmer this winter.  It's just plain better tasting, not as syrupy and not as candy like. It's probably not fair to compare a flavored vodka to a schnapps but, let's face it, in a small flask the higher alcohol volume wins the day and Atomic Hots is 35% while Hot Damn is only 15%, there's just more tingle to warm my jingles!  Yes, Goldschlager has a higher alcohol content (43.5%) than Atomic Hot but frankly, despite all the glitter from the gold flakes, it doesn't have half the flavor.
Chilled
Pretty much the same as room temp but with a little more bite and a tad bit more alcohol taste. I like it better warm and that's how I'd serve it as a sipper.  Works better that way as a toe, finger & tummy warmer too.
Mixability Possibilities
I think the Atomic Hot is going to have a fairly decent range of mixability. Obviously, it's going to blend nicely with apple vodkas and puckers but I can see it warming up a nice glass of whiskey and rum as well and a little splash in hot cocoa or apple cider. A small splash of it could work nicely to replace powdered cinnamon as well.  I'll be adding it this week to my Fall Apple Jack Martini as replacing the Goldschlagger in my Millionaire Martini. The Atomic Hot reminds me very much of those cinnamon oil soaked toothpicks from my youth and, yes, the atomic fireball jawbreakers of broken tooth fame. This would pair well with apple pies and cobblers, peach too, in fact, anything you use cinnamon in so some rice pilafs would work well paired with this. Definitely worth taking up space in my bar, especially in the winter!

Here's a delicious cocktail I created using the Atomic Hots Vodka: Apple Sauce Cake Martini.

Review Wrap Up
All in all, I have to give Pinnacle 5 Martini Glasses for these four vodkas.  They did an excellent job of capturing the flavors they were going for and they created some decent booze in the process.  My thanks for the samples, I will be happily experimenting with all of these in the upcoming weeks and months so keep an eye out for my recipes.

In the meantime, see what Pinnacle itself suggests as recipes here on their recipes page.

And P.S. Pinnacle, thanks for my early Christmas present and (hint, hint) my birthday is next month and I'd love to try out and review your Chocolate Whipped, Cherry Whipped, Orange Whipped, Espresso ...oh, heck, any other of your flavors you'd like to share with me!!








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