By Curtis Vreeland
As anyone who has recently visited the liquor store can tell you, the flavored vodka section has grown by the yard. But how about adding confectionery flavors to vodka to extend the drinking opportunity into the dessert course? Godiva and Diageo, two icons in their respective industries, have combined their talents to create a line of Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka.
At a special launch party hosted by Godiva during the west coast Fancy Food Show, I had the opportunity to sample the vodkas and talk with a member of the R&D team responsible for recipe development and innovation. Godiva Chef Chocolatier Patrick Peeters described the challenges of creating liquor that captures the essential flavor and bouquet of Godiva’s premium cocoa beans. “We use Ghanaian beans noted for their red fruit, brown spice and big brownie notes. All these special flavor characteristics are recognizable in this vodka.” The intensity of these flavors comes straight through the ultra-premium vodka, which has been distilled five-times.
Chocolatier Peeters brought along a selection of Godiva Chocolate and Chocolate Raspberry Truffles, the flavor basis for the vodkas. To extract the maximum pleasure from the chocolate and vodka pairing, first take a small sip of vodka. The vodka wakes the tongue and fills the mouth with a boll of receptor alcoholic ether. Next, take a bite of the truffle and slowly roll the chocolate around your mouth. The vodka helps vaporize chocolate’s aromatic components. Take another small sip of vodka to intensify flavor extraction and allow the brain to savor the sumptuous experience. These are truly drinkable desserts.
Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka includes two flavors: Chocolate and Chocolate Raspberry. They will be available in fine spirits stores nationwide this summer at a suggested retail price of $29.99.
(Editor’s note: The following is an edited excerpt from Beverage Industry’s December 2010 cover story on Diageo, written by Jennifer Zegler.)
Godiva Chocolate wasn’t a stranger to Diageo when the spirits manufacturer approached them about partnering to produce a chocolate-infused vodka. The two had previously worked together in producing Godiva’s chocolate liqueur line.
Thus, when the company’s recent consumer research indicated that growth in the vodka category would be driven by new and novel flavors, a chocolate-infused vodka didn’t seem to be a far-fetched idea.
During the innovation process, Diageo’s team worked with Godiva chocolatiers to identify how to best channel the company’s chocolate into a clear spirit, explains Olivia McNeal, innovation liquid director for the company.
Together, the teams identified some integral components, she says.
“Aroma is really critical to the experience,” McNeal says. “So we had to make sure that we have this amazing aroma when you open the bottle to get the real authentic, true chocolate notes coming through.”
Diageo also had to capture the essence of Godiva chocolate in the vodka, McNeal says.
“We looked at different types of chocolate and then we looked at Godiva and we said ‘What makes Godiva stand apart from the others?’” she says. “It really is about this complexity and a mouthfeel experience, so what we tried to do with the Godiva vodkas is bring that in with real cocoa extracts and real chocolate.”
The Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka platform also includes a Chocolate Raspberry flavor, which was inspired by Godiva’s No. 1 selling truffle variety. For the fruity flavor, the development team also delved into Godiva’s unique process, McNeal says.
“We had a lot of chocolate raspberry truffles in the laboratory,” she says. “We took it right down to the chocolate truffles to understand how they process the raspberry, where they get their raspberries from, how do they create them into a concentrate and then put them into the truffle? We brought all of that together to really match it as close as we possibly could and I think we really brought the experience to life.”
Also aligning with the Godiva brand is the packaging, which features a vertical gold label McNeal says reminds her of a Godiva chocolate bar.