The First-Ever True Orange Vodka
by john heinz
It’s not from concentrate. It’s not freshly squeezed, either. But it will make your morning paper more interesting. Introducing 4 Orange Premium Vodka, the first-ever true orange vodka. Now I know what you’re thinking— you’ve been drinking orange vodka for years, right? Wrong. That was undoubtedly orangeflavored vodka, while Imperial Brand’s groundbreaking 4 Orange is orange-based—an important distinction where, as it happens, geography is key.
While Russia may be vodka’s birthplace, and Poland where potatoes got involved, when it comes to citrus, South Florida is king. So 4 Orange is crafted and bottled right here, natch, in the Sunshine State’s first and only registered distillery,where it’s literally distilled directly from the fruit by way of a genius, pretty complicated process involving juice extraction, reduction and ultimately conversion into citrus molasses. In the end, about 20 oranges go into making each 750ml bottle, and they use four (hence the name) varieties— Hamlin, Parson Brown, Temple and Valencia—each with its own unique flavor, aroma and harvesting schedule.
So it seems like a nifty idea in theory, right, but how does it taste? Is it all style, no substance, all flash, no flavor, as is invariably the case among the deluge of designer vodkas on the market these days? Surprisingly, simply… no. Unlike flavored vodkas, which I roundly find taste too sweet and synthetic,4 Orange is refreshing and refreshingly subtle. It’s only slightly sweet; there’s a hint of tang and another of spice, none of it remotely cloying. Overall the palate is bold and really very unique, but not at all overpowering. And zero after-burn, which is rare even among far more expensive brands. I was so surprised by its smoothness, actually, that I found myself double-checking the alcohol level on the label: yep, 80 proof.
4 Orange’s subtlety makes it a versatile libation, though in my estimation it’s best served simply, either on the rocks by itself or with a splash of seltzer (maybe tonic if you prefer your cocktail on the sweet side). But if you’re feeling crazy, try it in any number of mixed drinks—it’ll no doubt breathe some life into a once-boring Cosmo or Sex on the Beach. 4 Orange is a fresh twist on a classic spirit, which unlike ordinary flavored vodka, can be substituted in just about any recipe, from club-friendly late-night martinis to poolside spiked lemonade. But please, one caveat: not with your morning coffee. 750ml, $24.99
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.