Binyamina’s Spirits

Binyamina Winery has undergone adjustments over the past few years and aims to change the fine alcohol scene in Israel. Yonatan Sternberg explores the change and tastes some vodkas.

Over the past couple of years the Binyamina Winery has undergone some major changes. Substantial investments in the winery and vineyards are already nearing fruit, resulting of late in some fine wines produced by the winery’s team headed by winemakers Sasson Ben Aharon and Assaf Paz.

Last year Binyamina also established a separate division that will be involved in the import and distribution of various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages: Binyamina Spirits. “This is part of an overall strategic plan that aims to turn Binyamina into a major player in the local alcoholic beverage sector. Binyamina Spirits offers a diversified product portfolio while focusing on the consumer,” said Mr. Ilan Hasson, CEO at Binyamina. The portfolio is divided into several categories: Mediterranean spirits, vodka, whiskey, beer and miscellaneous, which comprises sparkling wines, armagnac, calvados, liqueurs, rum, gin, tequila and more. Binyamina Spirits also serves as the distributor for leading international mineral water brands Perrier and Vittel.

I recently had the opportunity to sample several of Binyamina Spirits’ offerings.

Established in 1969, Label 5 is considered the fastest growing alcohol brand in the past three years and is ranked 9th in the overall sales of scotch. The Label 5 Blended Scotch is golden towards light brown in color showing typical malty alongside slight smoky and fruity aromas and flavors. Surprisingly smooth, this is definitely one of the best in its price category. NIS 130.

Poliakov Vodka – As I have written in the past, while I am not a very big vodka fan, I definitely appreciate a good vodka when I taste one. Poliakov is a French vodka brand produced according to a very old Russian recipe. Poliakov offers its vodka in three categories: Poliakov Classic – triple distilled and starting at NIS 45 a bottle (700 ml.). Poliakov Silver – considered as the distillery’s flagship vodka, quintuple distilled resulting in a clear and clean vodka that goes down smoothly leaving a pleasant after taste, NIS 138. Served cold with smoked or cured fish and you will be in for a traditional Eastern European style treat. Poliakov Extreme – distilled 6 times in large copper vats, this ultra premium vodka is produced in Russia and sells for ~ NIS 340.

The latest addition to Binyamina’s portfolio is the Swedish Xante liqueur. Aged for four years in oak barrels, Xante is an interesting pear flavored liqueur made with VSOP cognac and fresh pears. On the nose the Xante offers delicate and pleasant aromas of pears and vanilla. Very, very sweet on the palate, serve straight or on the rocks as a digestif or use to mix in cocktails. Binyamina’s team recommends mixing 40 ml. of Xante liqueur with 10 ml. of vodka and a splash of your favorite energy drink. At NIS 261 for a 500 ml. bottle this is not a cheap buy, but if you like your liqueurs sweet and fruity try Xante.