Vodka was first introduced into the USA at the end of the 19th century. It grew in popularity, especially after WWII and has gone from an exotic spirit to the most popular for consumption in America. The year 1976 was its tipping point and when it surpassed whiskey in American popularity. The introduction of new brands like Absolut and Finlandia helped to establish it as a premium category. In addition to the flavorless variety, flavored versions such as berry and citrus grew in popularity.
Absolut’s Citron was the first breakout flavored vodka. It helped to inspire the Cosmopolitan, a vodka cocktail that pushed the variety to even greater heights. In the early 2000s, when vodka seemed to be at its highest, companies such as Three Olives, Pinnacle and Van Gogh pushed it even further with flavored vodka. By the year 2008, citrus and berry flavored vodka morphed into flavors such as whipped cream, cookie dough and cake. Other companies introduced even more flavors, including Stoli Hot Pepper, Snurnoff Light Sorbet and Belvedere Lemon Tea.
During the early 2010s the popularity of vodka began to wane. It seems as if the Vodka producers have produced so many different flavors and are going in so many directions, that they have started to lose customers. While Vodka is here to stay, its glory days seem to be behind it. Many new flavors continue to receive lukewarm reception and existing ones are on a downhill slide.
One of the defining moments in the life of the spirit was the introduction of Ivanabitch Tobacco Flavored Vodka. The outlandish flavored spirit is a lower proof vodka like many of the other flavored varieties. At 70 proof, it is lower in calories, because it contains less alcohol and more water. This makes it softer and easier to consume as well as less expensive to produce. Unfortunately, 70 proof alcohols do not mix as well as the full proof variety.
Tobacco Flavored Vodka by Inanabitch, provides the nose of tobacco. The smell duplicates cheap tobacco cigarette instead of that of a deep rich pipe or cigar tobacco. It also has notes of cherry, caramel and dusty oak. While the aromas are realistic enough, they are not overly inviting. The spirit’s entry is thin, bringing a good amount of tobacco, cantaloupe, cherry and caramel. Midpalate, you pick up the dusty oak along with lemon and black pepper. Its finish is very short and the caramel flavor is the most noticeable part. Cherry, caramel and tobacco flavors linger after the finish. They are generally seen as unpleasant. Overall, it gives a watery and thin mouth feel.
Ivanabitch also offers a Menthol Vodka. Spearmint dominates this sweetened vodka. Unfortunately, consumers find the experience less than enjoyable. While similar in nature to the original tobacco flavored vodka, and leaves an aftertaste that is hard to get out of the mouth afterwards.
Legally, neither of the Ivanabitch tobacco flavored vodkas can contain real tobacco. Infusing or macerating tobacco into alcohol can result in toxic levels of nicotine. While both produce a tobacco like flavor, neither is pleasant. The mere introduction of these flavors of vodka shows how the market has reached the decline. For the spirit to return to its former glory, vodka producers need to head back to the drawing board. Introducing another out there flavor, such as tobacco flavored vodka certainly is not going to do the trick.