Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lacking Polish

For those who think it is ridiculous that I drink as much as I do lately while exercising every day - and indeed for those who think it is ridiculous that I exercise as much as I do lately while drinking every day - this:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then
I contradict myself
I am large, I contain multitudes.
I gave arrack as Christmas presents last year, but now given the fluid demographics of Colliers Wood I think it is time to start investigating Polish vodka.

The origins of vodka are shrouded in the swirling mists and frozen winters of Eastern Europe, and are the subject of much debate in Russia and Poland. Whichever country it happened in first, sometime in the eighth century someone left a bottle of wine outside, thus freezing off the water to leave a residue of alcohol. It was then mixed with medicinal herbs, and prescribed as a healing body rub, rather than a drink, by the pagans who produced it.

After the Poles accepted Christianity in 966, priests saw the light and started drinking this rough spirit, while continuing to extol its medicinal virtues. By the end of the 14th century, the French method of heating wine to become a spirit was widely practised. Polish distilling really took off in the 16th century when a decree was passed allowing anyone to produce and sell alcohol. This early free-market experiment was quickly amended in favour of a policy of granting tax-producing licences - but by this time the nation's taste for the hard stuff was well whetted.

Rye, buckwheat and oats thrive in Poland's chilly soil, and the noblemen who had been granted licences used these grains rather than more costly grapes, which were often imported. Purity was a problem, moving distillers to dress up their spirits in flavoured finery that would mask off-flavours and hues. Situated on the trade route from Asia to Western Europe and Scandinavia, Poland enjoyed easy access to exotic herbs, roots and spices, many of which made their way into the distillers' products, marking the start of an enduring relationship between flavoured vodka and the Polish.
... read on .....

My initial to-do list comprises:

Polish super-premium grain vodka, delicate character made from the finest rectified spirit.
Vodka produced using the juice and infusion of Polish cherries especially cultivated for production of Wisniowka. Full, rich but, dry flavour.
Based on twice-rectified spirit with a dry spicy flavour obtained from Turkish pepper, black pepper and other ingredients giving a prolonged aftertaste.
Extra Zytnia
Distilled from rye, with a small addition of apple spirit and aromatic fruity ingredients. Very popular Polish vodka with a subtle sweetness, though dry and exquisitely light on the palate.
Polish honey vodka to which cinnamon, cloves and ginger are also added. Frequently served hot making it a popular winter drink.
A more exclusive tasting Polish plum, brandy/vodka mix.
This Polish rowan berry vodka has a taste mollified and refined by a small addition of sugar, well-seasoned wine, essence of figs, raisins and dried plums, matured in oak casks.
Polish Pure Spirit - 79.9%
The strongest of Polish rectified spirits, not to be consumed in large quantities!
Poland’s most famous export, a twice rectified rye spirit with a subtle sweetness. Available in Original, Pineapple, Orange, Pepper, Peach, Melon and Lemon flavours.
This greenish-yellow Polish vodka is distilled from the infusion of “sweet grass” with a herbaceous, mild and slightly burning flavour giving it a medicinal quality.

A hobby is a wonderful thing.

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