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IMPERIA

VODKA
Unflavored
Grain Neutral Spirits
RUSSKY STANDART
Russia
80
-
SHAW ROSS INTERNATIONAL
Miramar, Ill.
If you aren't familiar with Russian Standard's Imperia vodka (it's highest-end of three bottlings) due to its ubiquitous print advertising, you won't miss the angular, hexagon-bottomed bottle at the liquor store. It looks like something that ought to have been erected on the outskirts of Moscow during the Yeltsin years, a stark monument to drowned sorrows and liver damage.

Imperia ain't Popov, though. It's a premium vodka with a premium price (considerably more expensive than, say, Stoli), made from winter wheat and distilled a nearly-ridiculous eight times along the way. It is later filtered four times, twice through Ural Mountain Range quartz crystals. No idea how that works, but there you go: It all must be part of Dmitri Mendeleev's original recipe, created for Czar Alexander III in 1894. Russian Standard says it uses the same recipe today.