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By Michael Hepworth

Here are two vodkas from the Absolut Family in Sweden that are so different in taste and texture,  that it is hard to believe they come from the same family. Absolut started out shipping their Vodka to the United States during the reign of Abba in 1979, and just like the supergroup, they believe in creating new boundaries and taking some risks along the way. They have been in existence since 1879, and are now the world’s third largest Vodka firm.  The advertising campaign for LEVEL VODKA indicates something that is smooth, sophisticated and sexy. Level hired the photographer David Brandt for their campaign, and it has proved to be highly effective. In all honesty, the vodka is excellent, and in fact once you have tried it, could very well become your top choice.  It is certainly giving some of the other brands in the same price range a real run for their money. A nice sweet taste of citrus comes through after the lengthy distillation process, where the alcohol is cleansed of all impurities.

Retailing for $37.50, Level has been around since 2004, and is made from winter wheat in a two part distillation process. Level is an 80 proof vodka, and the understated design goes perfect with the terrific taste of the drink, either by itself or in a martini. It is best drunk rather dry with only a small amount of vermouth, not to dilute the taste entirely.  Level is perfect for romantic evenings or intimate get together, and after checking out the web site, it is pretty clear that Level Vodka have had some real success in their marketing strategy.  On the other hand, ABSOLUT 100 which retails for $55 is what’s known in the industry as a Macho Vodka, geared for the hard drinking man and the male global audience. Now I know why my wife much preferred Level to this one, which is higher proof and distilled from the grain fields of Southern Sweden .

The Absolut 100 had its major launch in Shanghai of all places earlier this year, and the ongoing introduction to the marketplace will continue right through to the end of the year.  It is specifically geared towards the male traveler in the duty free shops around the world.  I suppose there must be a huge market for vodka of this style. The taste is rather distinctive, a bit like old grain and dried fruit. This is an acquired taste, and it does come in a no nonsense opaque, black, sliver and grey bottle, but this is strictly for the guys coming round to watch the sports on a weekend evening.












































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