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The Top Shelf: Exclusiv Vodka

Exclusiv is a wheat vodka from Moldova.  80 proof (40% Alcohol by volume)  Currently available in New York.


To experience Exclusiv, or any product for that matter, one must involve all the senses.  There are some areas where it excelled, others where it fell short, and others where it downright surprised.

Sight:  The Bottle

On the whole it is a rather elegant bottle.  750 ml frosted glass with a slight flare at the bottom.  The emblem of a bear is embossed near the neck over the label.  The label is screen printed, not a paper label sticker, and is somewhat understated and refined.

My only criticisms are that the bottle itself does not have much substance to it, injection molded with uniform thickness from top to bottom.  Holding it in my hand it felt like most mid level bottles.


Sound: The Cap

The top of the bottle and the cap are plastic.  There was that “crack” as the seal was broken.  I know you should not set your expectations of the product by its packaging; don’t judge a book by its cover, I know this.  But certain aspects of the packaging leave you with an expectation of what’s to come.  Just from its presence I had expected this to be good like a Stoli or Vox but not go much further than that.

Scent:  First Contact

The nitpicking and petty criticisms about the bottle meant nothing as soon as I held it to my nose and inhaled.  Half expecting the astringent alcoholic vapor to waft up the nostrils and assault the sinuses I was surprised, actually shocked, the first thing I got was… nothing.

I needed to check to see if the cap was still on, or that maybe this was all an elaborate joke and what I was really holding was a bottle of distilled water.  I even went as far as checking to see if I had lost the ability to smell, but no.  Even at room temperature, it barely made its presence known.

The sign of good vodka is both its purity and neutrality.  Good, clean water, quality ingredients and proper distillation define a vodkas quality.  Really poor vodka will announce itself whether you like it or not so for Exclusiv to have little to no aroma whatsoever had me taken aback.  This was no ordinary vodka.  There was something special in the bottle… what exactly do I have here?

Taste & Texture:  Please Read…

***a quick disclaimer***

The greatest challenge I face when reviewing products isn’t being sincere in my opinion, but rather to convince you, the reader, that I genuinely like a product because it is exceptional and of an uncompromising high standard. There will be products that I like and others that I feel fall short.  To gain a good solid reputation it is important to be unbiased without exception.  Some will love you, others may hate you, but even though your tastes may be up to debate, your word should never come into doubt.  With that being said, let’s continue…

There is something special about this vodka.  The taste and texture is something to behold.  As I struggle for the words I am brought back to something I said half in jest, that sipping Exclusiv is like a kiss… a really warm tender kiss.  Before you roll your eyes, let me explain.  The taste is delicate and yet there is real substance to it.  It weighs on the tongue and the heat from the 80 proof rolls in the mouth without any harshness.  It’s smooth, even when sampled warm (chilled shots suppress the true nature of the spirit) it’s almost velvety and goes down without burning.  Its purity is undeniable and definitely unexpected.


Final thought: A finely crafted vodka with a luxurious taste and feel

My qualms with Exclusiv are merely superficial. The bottle, although nice, doesn’t quite do justice to what’s inside.  The vodka is aptly named, should you be fortunate to get your hands on it (currently available only in the New York area for now) Exclusiv will be your exclusive vodka; it’s just that good.  This is a vodka drinker’s vodka.  Add mixers would result in a superior cocktail, though I personally feel it would be  somewhat of a disservice to such a fine spirit.  Without a doubt Top Shelf.

Xan Garcia

Xan Garcia

Founder and senior editor of VODA. Cocktailian, Journalist, Traveler, and the next Robin Leach.

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