[50%, sampled in Germany]
Belvedere Intense. I guess you can think of this vodka as the mean sister of Belvedere.
What does “mean” mean? Well, with an alcohol content of 50%, Belvedere Intense stings a little bit more than the original, which is 80 proof (40%). There’s a reason why vodka usually contains about 35% to 42% alcohol. Less tends to be boring. More tends to sting.
about those 40%
Of course there’s an origin story for the 40%, which goes like this: back in the 19th century, Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev (Дмитрий Менделеев) came up with a standard for the production of vodka. He decided vodka should contain 40% alcohol. This was mainly because he figured it was most safe to consume at that level, and also because he thought it tasted good like that.
Apparently this legend isn’t true, though. It’s made up. But does that matter?
Belvedere Intense puts up a good show
The Intense version of Belvedere is fun to try, and it isn’t bad at all. It just isn’t as smooth as the original. And how could it be, at 50% alcohol? The aftertaste was still very good, though. Balmy and aromatic, a bit like breathing lakeside air in the morning.
I thought the black bottle design was not as classy as the original. It looked cheesy to me. The price was a bit high (ca 40€/700ml).
what to do with this
All in all, I think there isn’t much you can do to make a 100 proof vodka taste good. The people at Belvedere certainly gave their best, and the result is pretty good. But I would always rather be drinking the regular stuff.
My suggestion is to use this in mixed drinks if you want them to be a bit more intense than usual.