Time for something truly unique! Kalak is a new “Single Malt Vodka” that is slowly winning over the hearts of whisky drinkers around the world. Forged in the valleys of Southwestern Ireland, home to what many consider to be the single best source of barley, Kalak it is made from 100% malted barley and distilled in traditional copper pot stills.
Now I know what you may be thinking, “Why is the Single Malt Alliance telling us about vodka?”. Good question my friends. It should come as no surprised that when offered a drink, I will choose whisky 9/10 times. But once in a while a new spirit will come along with a keen ability to enchant even the most enthusiastic of whisky appreciators. Today that spirit is Kalak. A single malt by definition but an experience unlike anything we know.
Kalak is the creation of Patrick Shelly, a life-long spirits enthusiast who spent 15 years at LVMH developing their Glenmorangie and Hennessy brands. He eventually decided to try his hand at crafting his own spirit. After years of hard work, Kalak single malt vodka was born.
The name Kalak comes from the phonetic spelling of the Irish “Cailleach”, a Celtic deity representing the darker side of nature. Celtic Queen of Winter. She represents the darker side of nature, one of bitter frost and frozen terrain. The bottle is adorned with symbols that pay respect to their Celtic heritage, all while serving as a foundation for the tasting experience that is to come.
So here we are in a quiet room with a new bottle decorated with a purpose and a Glencairn glass that is filled with a spirit that is, well, rather clear. So let’s get to it…
On the nose, a fresh rush of vanilla, lemon zest and baking spices. Wow! Nothing like a vodka at all. A very pleasant, earthy aroma full of flavor. I can’t say I’ve tasted anything like this but it definitely seems more “whisky-like” than I would have imagined. Of course it is entirely free of any oak characteristics but it’s still pleasantly complex in its own right.
On the palate, surprisingly smooth with a very lush texture. At 40% ABV it’s very calm, delicate and overall just very pleasant. There’s an initial wave of rich, biscuity notes and what seems like fresh, mossy greens. Vanilla is a flavor that you find in so many different types of whisky but I always assumed it came from the oak. This is a pure, unaged spirit that delivers as much of a vanilla note as any single malt matured in a refill bourbon cask. The finish evolves very slowly with a solid balance between a light dryness and this beautiful sweetness that differs from anything I have come to know.
Overall, I really this spirit. As a whisky enthusiast, it’s something that is so different but yet feels oddly familiar. It’s a very elegant, complex spirit that is clearly the product of someone who knows their craft. I still need to figure out exactly how I will be drinking this one moving forward. Like vodka, it’s a versatile spirit but unlike vodka, this “single malt vodka” is very good neat. I will tell you this, if you like single malt whisky and want to try to a new spirit, $30 it’s an easy decision. Binny’s is now shipping throughout the US so if you’re local, give it a go and tell us what you think!