So, I know I told everyone that I really had no love for flavored vodkas and that they really wouldn't become a genuine thing on this site, but there are rare instances where I'm willing to have my mind changed.
As a case in point: Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka. I'd start by saying that even if the distinction exists only through my own twisted logic, I think there's a major difference between this and something like Pinnacle Cupcake Vodka. With the cupcake vodka, it's cloying and pandering: they know the target market likes cupcakes, so they're trying to make vodka taste like cupcakes for those who find liquor unpalatable. Or, perhaps more accurately, they're trying to pave over the faults of a bad vodka with a familiar and comfortable taste.
In contrast, nobody I know is a major aficionado or consumer of bison grass. There's some local legend in Poland about bison grass giving men the strength to chop down trees for nine hours straight and then go straight home and launch into a marathon bout of lovemaking. I can't say consumption of Zubrowka made me any more virile than usual, though those with low drug tolerance may want to warn their significant others and make sure there aren't any axes at arm's reach, lest they piss off their landlords with some unwanted landscaping. Folklore aside, I just wanted to see what kind of flavor it would impart to a neutral spirit.
Another point of difference between this Zubrowka and other vodkas: I'd argue it offers a considerably more natural presentation. Typically the litany of vodka flavors like cupcakes, fruit loops, or salted caramel are artificially produced and in the same vein as a Jelly Belly candy. For a reason, admittedly—it's not like you'd want or expect a chunk of cupcake submerged in your fifth of Pinnacle. But here, there's a blade of bison grass right in the bottle. Nifty!
I'm happy to report that the experience is a worthwhile one. Zubrowka has an interesting sweet-and-sour flavor balance. On the one hand, there's a very unexpected (and pleasant) sweetness to the vodka. It smells and tastes like a medley of tropical fruit: there are big coconut flavors and aromas, believe it or not, and it finishes with a pretty strong taste of marzipan. Who'd have thought?
On the other hand, the bison grass lends a grassy kind of astringency to the whole affair, and there are intermittent flashes of over-steeped herbal tea that dart in and out among the sweet flavors. Personally, I dig it. I think the floral and herbal components add complexity without becoming too overbearing, but I realize that the combination might not work for everyone. For example, the girlfriend made a puzzled face after her first slug of Zubrowka. Her assessment: not bad, and certainly a quality spirit, but it's a lot to process when you go into it blind.
Should you try it? Absolutely. Zubrowka is another spirit which proves that vodka can taste like something. Or in this instance, like quite a lot of things.