Kleiner Feigling Vodka
by Darcy O'Neil on March 2006
A couple of days ago I received a package at my front door, and in it was a sample of Kleiner Feigling fig flavoured vodka. I had previously not heard of this vodka, but the idea of fig vodka piqued my interest. Flavoured spirits are a staple in the cocktail world, but you can only be as creative as the flavours / ingredients you have. New flavours are a great way to make new creations and new creations are what fuel the cocktail renaissance.
Kleiner Feigling is from a company in Germany, that was established in 1892. They started producing Kleiner Feigling in 1992 and since then has reached annual world wide sales of 1,000,000 cases. This product is naturally flavoured and the name translates to "little coward."
Figs are the fruit of ficus trees. The fig is believed to be indigenous to western Asia and has been distributed by man throughout the Mediterranean area. Figs are now grown world wide in tropical regions. They are small, soft, pear-shaped fruits with an intensely sweet flavour and rich, moist texture made crunchy by a multitude of tiny seeds. The fig has a unique fruity flavour with a mellow earthy flavour, sometimes said to be nutty. It is hard to describe a fresh fig. Fig newtons do no do justice to the flavour of the fig. If you haven't tried a fig, I would recommend you try one.
My first thought was it would probably taste like a fig newton in a bottle, which to my surprise, didn't remotely taste like that. And that's a good thing. After pouring a shot, my first impression was that it had peach and flower like overtones. There is no harsh alcohol in the nose, so the first impression was good. The one thing that should be noted is that Kleiner Feigling is a vodka with only 20% (40 proof) alcohol. This makes it an easy drinking spirit, without any alcohol burn. More on this later.
On tasting this spirit, it has a unique flavour that is slightly sweet with the flavour of apple and a slight earthiness, with a crisp acidic finish. Because of the low proof, it is very mellow, so diluting this with too much mix would cover up the flavours. Unlike a liqueur, this drink is not super concentrated in flavour or overly sweet, so it is enjoyable straight. I get the impression that this is the goal of this spirit.
Good matching mixes for Kleiner Feigling would be apple and cranberry juices. A Cosmopolitan made with this vodka would be an excellent drink
As I mentioned, this spirit is a 20% alcohol (40 proof) and many people may think that the alcohol content is important, but I disagree. As a bartender, this flavoured vodka is a great idea. At 20% alcohol it would allow me to help control a persons alcohol consumption without being rude and over bearing. Cutting people off is difficult, and it is my least favourite part of being a bartender. Lower alcohol drinks can help slow people down while still having fun. It is even better if the product tastes good. People don't buy alcohol, they buy drinks and flavour. As a bartender, my number one duty is to make sure you have a great night, and that includes making sure you get home safe and your hangover isn't a three day affair. This product gives me one more tool to do that.
For example, if a group is having a great time and pounding back the drink, or I notice that someone isn't comfortable with drinking so much, or starting to get to "that point," I can recommend a round of Feigling vodka shots to slow them down. Half the alcohol consumption can double the time my guests are at the bar, and reduce intoxication. I have always used Bailey's as my "intervener" shot, to slow people down, now that there is another good tasting option.
My overall opinion is that this is a nice smooth drink. It isn't too sweet and is not overpowering with its flavour. It is best taken straight or served on ice.