Not every bottle tells a story, but in every bottle of Panezski’s vodka there are several stories.
Owned and distilled by Paul and Vanesa Chapman, Panezski follows the Polish tradition of excellence, their vodka widely recognised as among the best in the world. Poland is home to the award-winning Belvedere rye vodka, the smooth vanilla-scented liquor bearing just a hint of pepper.
Vodka has a long history, dating back to 1405 in Polish court documents. Seen variously as medicine, an elixir, or at least a comforting companion, there’s even a Polish Vodka Museum in Warsaw dedicated to the history of the craft brew. This Polish heritage is what Panezski honours.
The Panezski logo is a stylised Eurasian lynx, an endangered species in Poland that roams freely through the forests, shy of humans. In much the same way, the flavours of good vodka are elusive, flitting across the palate, defying description.
The name ‘Panezski’ is a play on the owners’ names as well as a dedication to Vanessa’s Polish grandmother Oksana. One of only two members of her family to escape the gas chambers, Oksana emigrated from Poland to Australia at the end of the war in 1945, a journey to a life in a new land.
Survival skills worthy of Oksana were needed to begin the couple’s distillery business, opened just ten days before Australia went into lockdown. Within a day there were no visitors to the distillery, no established audience in the crucial days after launching. Instead, Paul consolidated, spending time perfecting the real and virtual spaces housing the distillery and distilling ready for a reopening.
As we taste his vanilla-scented vodkas side by side, Paul explains to us the difference between wheat-based vodka, its flavours familiar to whiskey drinkers, and the smoother rye-based vodka.
Making the alcohol from scratch (instead of adding flavour to a pre-purchased alcohol base, as some other distilleries do), Paul uses the best grains available, the rye malt grain coming from Germany and the rest of the grains from Australia.
At present, the 100 litre still is their starting point, however as demand increases the couple have ordered a larger still to arrive in September 2020.
Panezski’s intimate bar is located in Bailey Crescent’s industrial area, just the place to pop into on a Friday afternoon to buy that last minute gift pack or to have a drink – a beer, gin and tonic or maybe a Polish Mule cocktail? We highly recommend it.
Panezski Artisan Distillery, 7/55 Bailey Crescent, Southport Ph: 0429 611 122
Open: Fri 3pm – 6pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 10am – 4pm