Earlier this week, the founder of Snow Leopard Vodka rolled through town with a couple bottles in tow and quite a story. Stephen Sparrow launched Snow Leopard Vodka in 2006, when a fortuitous break in employment, a background in spirits and a passion for conservation merged. After learning of the plight of the endangered snow leopard–and the local communities who share its habitat–Sparrow found a worthy cause. And he decided upon vodka as his means to support that cause.
Sparrow then contracted a Polish distillery, and rather than distilling his vodka from traditional choices like wheat or potatoes, he opted for spelt, an ancient grain with a hardy husk that wards off pesticides. The vodka is distilled six times, filtered through charcoal and blended with water pulled from an on-site well.
Snow Leopard Vodka launched first in London, with Sparrow delivering cases to area bars on the back of his bicycle. And while the brand is still relatively small, it has come a long way since then. After spreading to more cities in the UK and recently breaking into the Asian market, Snow Leopard Vodka is just now hitting American shelves. And Wednesday, we sat down to taste it.
Vodkas often get a knock for being tasteless, odorless spirits, and often rightfully so. But the better ones retain flavors and aromas. In this case, Snow Leopard is full of peppery spice and sweet vanilla. It’s very smooth, with a viscous, creamy mouthfeel and a lingering finish. The flavors are subdued, but it’s certainly not neutral.
Snow Leopard Vodka is donating 15% of its profits to the Snow Leopard Trust, a Seattle-based organization dedicated to protecting the endangered animal. So if you buy a bottle (a 750ml bottle will set you back about $35), you’re supporting a fine cause. It’s yet another way that drinking can make you feel good.