The bottle:elit by Stolichnaya Pristine Water Series Andean Edition, $3,000
The back story: Remember when vodka drinkers thought a bottle of Grey Goose was expensive? Stolichnaya, the Russian brand that’s one of the best-selling vodkas in the world, has increasingly emphasized the higher-end of the perennially popular white spirit. (Since 2002, vodka sales have increased by 67%, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.) In 2003, Stoli introduced elit, a $60 vodka that was made using a special cold filtration process (it was said to give the vodka an “unparalleled purity”). In more recent years, Stoli has set the amp to 11, so to speak, with the elit Pristine Water Series — a series of limited-edition offerings (just 250-300 bottles released worldwide) that are made sourcing prized water from special locales (the grain that goes into making the vodka is good ol’ Russian wheat and rye, just as you’d find in any Stoli, and the filtration process is the same used in the standard elit). To quote Stoli Group USA chief marketing officer: “To craft a truly exemplary vodka, one with subtle taste and extraordinary clarity, you must begin with water.”
For the latest edition of the Pristine Water Series, the Stoli team trekked all the way to Chile — specifically, “to a natural spring flowing from the foothills of the Andes mountains,” the brand notes. Of course, you can’t put a vodka made with such water in just any bottle. Stoli packages the Andean Edition in a hand-cut crystal bottle, which is “then nestled in a sustainably sourced Chilean Black Cherry wood case.” If it all sounds a little too much, the Stoli folks may be having the last laugh — the two previous editions in the series, with water sourced from the Himalayas and New Zealand, have essentially sold out. That said, brand officials admit the series is not a huge moneymaker unto itself. Rather, it helps promote the regular elit line, which has seen sales grow by 20% this year.
What we think about it: We’ve never been ones to buy into the idea that vodka is flavorless. Granted, it doesn’t have as much taste as, say, a good aged whiskey, but vodka delivers something of a subtler nature. But subtle or not, does any vodka merit a four-figure price tag? We’ll allow that the Andean Edition is an elegant, sophisticated sip — with nice hints of lemons and licorice and a clean mouth feel. But truth be told, an everyday vodka drinker will do just fine with regular elit, which has a creamier texture and slightly sweeter taste. Frankly, even regular Stoli will more than suffice.
How to enjoy it: Sure, most of us like our vodka on ice — or just chilled. But Stoli brand ambassador Brent Lamberti suggests enjoying the Pristine Water Series vodkas neat to savor their true flavor. And unless you have a really, really big wallet, we’d also suggest foregoing the vodka and tonics with this one.
View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/3000-for-a-bottle-of-vodka-stolis-elit-pristine-water-series-andean-edition-2014-12-05