Experimenting with Low-Calorie Voli Vodka

I’ve never given much thought to the caloric content of the alcoholic beverages I consume. The way I see it, any notable expansion in my waistline is the result of late-night junk food binges, not beer, wine, and liquor. But I’ve been fascinated recently with the growing popularity of Voli Light Original Vodka, a multi-distilled wheat vodka from the Cognac region of France. Could it stand up against a traditional vodka? 

Thankfully, Voli is not some Franken-vodka, pumped full of artificial additives created in a chemlab. It achieves its skinniness through a reduced alcohol content – Voli has an alcohol content of 30%, compared with the 40% of most vodkas. Other than that, it’s a level playing field, where the variances in vodka – the most difficult-to-differentiate of all spirits – can be attributed to the type of grain used, the type of filtration (diamond dust, anyone?), and the number of times it’s filtered. Marketing may or may not play a role.
 
But for me, there is only one test of whether a vodka succeeds or fails. Can Voli make a proper, satisfying New York Vodka Martini? To find out, I created the most even-handed, statistically valid experiment I could, making extra-dry (nod in the direction of the vermouth across the room) vodka martinis, stirred-not-shaken, at the same time, in the same way, with the same number of ice cubes, using Voli Light Vodka in one mixing glass and a well known premium vodka (let’s call it "Belvedere") in another. I stirred, strained, sipped, and pondered the two experiences.
 
The Belvedere martini was delicious, bracing yet balanced, with notes of citrus. A strong yet restrained cocktail. The Voli martini held its ground against it, delivering a martini that was soft and smooth, yet with the kick I’m looking for. It seemed extremely pure and odorless, and the pleasure of sipping a proper martini was there. The two martinis were competitive. I enjoyed them both.
 
So does the reduced alcohol content matter? Spirits sold as vodka in the United States must have an alcohol content of at least 40%. In Europe, the minimum is 37.5%. Yet Voli is 7.5% lower – weaker, if you like – than the Euro level. To me, that matters not.  From a health perspective, less alcohol can only be an improvement. Yet, Voli doesn’t taste – or feel – like a fake drink. The satisfaction of that first sip, the realization that my evening just took a different track – that my problems aren’t so bad, and everything is going to be just fine – is there.
 
Celebrities such as Pitbull and Fergie have endorsed Voli, which gives it a certain level of respectability among (legal) young drinkers across the country, but it raises what may be the most important question of our time: are Pitbull and Fergie drinking quality vodka? Are they drinking real vodka? I’ve done the research, and the answer is yes, they are indeed.
 
Voli is available in its pure form ($20) and in all-natural flavors such as raspberry cocoa fusion, espresso vanilla fusion, and lemon. Go forth and drink yourself skinny. 

Make Friends Fast With a Big Bowl of Voli Vodka

For several years now, I’ve kept a well-stocked candy dish on my desk at work in an attempt to get people to like me. It’s been a moderately successful strategy. My candy-loving coworkers drop by for their afternoon fix, and some feel obliged to say hi and make with the chitchat. But now that the generous people at Voli Spirits have sent me a case of 120 mini bottles of their reduced-calorie vodka, I think my likability factor just increased exponentially.

I’ve consumed a fair amount of vodka in my day, so I was happy to give Voli a try. And I think it’s quite tasty.

Bear in mind that I really don’t give a rat’s ass about its low-calorie status. I’ve never seen vodka as a culprit in my expanding waistline. But it seems Voli achieves its calorie reduction through lowering the alcohol content to 30% from vodka’s traditional 40%, and I’m fine with that. Dry martinis, which are my main vodka delivery vehicle, tend to get me housed so quickly that I welcome the additional hour or so of partying the weaker potion will allow me.

I tried the unflavored Voli first, at room temperature, in a pretty champagne flute. It has a nice bite, muted astringency, soft mouthfeel, mild sweetness, and faintest notes of grain. As for the reduced alcohol content, it’s noticeable, but not much different than any vodka tastes after your ice cube has melted. I’d compare it to Smirnoff, and I mean that as a compliment, since Smirnoff won the New York Times vodka taste test back in 2005. It’s a fine pour, and would make a totally respectable martini.

What I’m drinking now is the raspberry cocoa fusion, (there’s also espresso vanilla, lemon, and orange vanilla) and it’s yummy too. I’m not much of a flavored vodka guy – I like my drinks dry and bitter like my soul – but I think this one is pretty well executed, with natural flavors that actually taste like raspberry and cocoa. It would be good with club soda, or even cola or ginger ale. Can I just come out and say that I bet women would be fond of this? Because that seems a safe bet, and a likely reason for its very existence.

And as for the vodka bowl, which now sits proudly next to the Kit Kats and Lifesavers, it has already attracted plenty of attention, with people snapping Twitpics and stuffing their pockets for later. Yes, just because I share my intoxicating goodies with people doesn’t mean their affection for me is sincere or enduring. I get that. But it makes them act that much nicer to me, and in this life, that’s good enough.