FREEZE-FILTERED AT -18°C FOR THE ULTIMATE IN PERFECTION
Using single-source grain harvested at our Kerschinskoye Estate in Russia, and cutting-edge technology, elit® pushes the limits of what it means to be vodka. Distillers precisely control production, bringing the spirit down to -18oC in its “freeze filtration” stage before it is bottled by hand. The result is flawless clarity, a rolling mouthfeel and a presence in the glass unlike any other.
The process begins in Tambov, at the heart of Russia’s fertile black earth region, where Stolichnaya owns several grain farms in the Kerschinskoye land around our distillery. Our master technicians select only the finest winter wheat grown on these farms. When it arrives at Talvis, the ultra-modern distillery that was completed in 2009, the first task is to mill these grains to an exact mix of 95% flour and 5% grist. This is the perfect ratio for making a mash with the mineral-balanced, purified water from our wells.
The mash takes three hours at a reduced temperature of 87°C. This soft boil temperature ensures that the mash acquires only the sweetest, softest bread flavours, with none of the burnt flavours that are created by a faster, hotter process.
The fermentation also develops slowly, taking 72 hours to create the beer that feeds the Beer Still, the first of three distilling columns. The Evaporation Still and the Rectification Still take the spirit to a strength of 96.4%. Only the very best spirit from the heart of the third distillation column is selected to become elit. All spirit that evaporates before 67.2°C and after 79.0°C is separated from the spirit that will become elit. After the first distillation, the spirit passes through two further columns: The Purification Column separates out the ethanol from volatile heads and oily tails, before the Packeted Purification Column removes harmful methanol from the spirit.
The quality of ethanol distilled in Russia to become vodka is governed by a series of qualities, each of which define the amount of harmful methanol that can be present. elit is only made from the highest grade: Alpha spirit (a measure introduced at Stolichnaya’s request in 2001). Alpha spirit allows a maximum of 0.003% methanol in the spirit, but this was never going to be acceptable for elit. By 2012, the distillers at Talvis had honed their technology to such a fine level that the spirit had 14 times less methanol than the Alpha spirit limit. In 2015 they achieved what many had previously thought to be impossible: they started to produce methanol absent alcohol, a spirit so pure that no traces of methanol could be found.
In creating the ultimate luxury vodka, distillation and filtration are of equal importance. The distillation is completed in Tambov before the Alpha spirit is readied for a journey 850 miles northwest, to the Baltic city of Riga. Here, at the magnificent Latvijas Balzams distillery, it is transformed into elit through the vigilant addition of precisely treated artesian well water and a unique filtration process, the final stage of which distinguishes elit from other vodkas.
Our artesian well water is drawn from wells on site at our distillery and treated to precise specifications defined by many years of Stolichnaya tradition. Reverse osmotic filtration and strict mineral rebalancing ensures identical impeccable water quality from one production to the next. This is then carefully blended with Alpha spirit to bring the liquid near to bottling strength, ready for further filtration. The first filtration step is through fine quartz sand to remove any tiny particles in the spirit, following distillation and blending.
We then pass our precious liquid through the activated charcoal of Russian birch wood. This is an extraordinary material: once activated by superheating in an oxygen-free environment, every gram of the charcoal has a surface area of 500m2, an area greater than a basketball court. The unerring accuracy of gravity sets the flow rate of the Alpha spirit through the charcoal: the width and length of the column are exactly calculated to optimise the removal of impurities by the charcoal, without the filtered spirit becoming tainted.
After charcoal filtering, the spirit is once again filtered through quartz sand, this time to remove any minute particles of charcoal that might have been collected.
The penultimate stage is to pass the liquid through an ultra-fine membrane before it is ready for the final purification. This unique process, inspired by the old Russian tradition of leaving casks outside in plummeting winter conditions, uses advanced technology to remove the last molecules of imperfection. The triple-filtered liquid is chilled to precisely -18°C. At this temperature, the liquid densifies and the last remaining molecules that are not ethanol or water bind to one another. The super-chilled spirit is then passed at an ultra-slow velocity through ion-charged filters. These draw the impurities out of the liquid by means of a process called ‘van der Waals forces’.
The finished product is bottled, inspected, polished, and packed by hand. The result of such a complex and time-consuming process is flawless clarity, a dense, rolling mouthfeel and a presence in the glass unlike any other.
Pristine Water Series
Introduced in 2013 and each valued at US$3,000, this limited edition series explores how water from unique sources elevates the flavour of vodka. Water from each of the eponymous sources is then blended with Russian Alpha Spirit made from single-source grain, which is then freeze-filtered at -18°C.
elit® Vodka ANDEAN EDITION
Crystal clear water from the Colico Lake in the La Araucania region of Chile combines with the most exceptional Russian Alpha Spirit to craft the Andean edition. This limited edition spirit is the crown jewel of unique, terroir-based vodkas from the brand.
elit® Vodka NEW ZEALAND EDITION
The Blue Spring in the Mamakau Ranges of New Zealand is the water source for this limited edition vodka. Each bottle is made of French crystal and is galvanized in jewelry-Palladium. The bottle is then wrapped with a leather cuff emulating the New Zealand silver fern.
elit® Vodka HIMALAYAN EDITION
Water from the Langtang National Park in the heart of the Himalayan Mountain Range combines with the finest winter wheat harvested from the Tambov region in Russia to make this special edition. Each bottle is made from hand-blown Bohemian crystal from the Czech Republic and feature a gold-plated ice pick.