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Premium & Superpremium Vodka: The Topic

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Anyone what thinks that vodka is vodka should try Cossack Vodka, brewed in Somerville, Mass. -- but first agree not to sue me. The differences between not only crap vodka, but, say, Absolute and Kettle One/Grey Goose, is obvious in both taste and mouthfeel. Of course, you must be drinking the vodka, not mixing it into juice, etc.

To look at the definition of vodka as being without taste or smell is overly technical. True, as very intelligent and handsome people have mentioned elsewhere on this site, at some level it is silly to discuss and compete among high end vodkas where the successful goal is to eliminate flavor. But try the moskovskaya if you can find it -- it's really really good.

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I haven't had Ketel One, but people often roll their eyes orgasmically when mentioning it. Performer Bobby Gaylor mentions it in "Suicide" ("There'll be more Ketel One vodka for me..."). I guess I should try it.

In the mean time, I'm considering posting a long, self-indulgent memoir of the vodka-drinking culture in the former Soviet Union. I just don't know whether it belongs in this thread, or in Adventures in Eating (because food was certainly often involved), or a separate thread in this forum.

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Yeah, there seems to be a problem with vodka as being described as having no taste. This is simply not true and is evident to anybody that has ever tasted vodka. Try this experiment... Take a drink of a fairly good vodka (say Stoli for example) then take a drink of Monarch Vodka. After the convulsions and horrible facial expressions have subsided, pour monarch down the drain.

Granted, some "luxury" vodkas are mostly hyped up, but vodka does have a flavor and mouthfeel. Try Tanquery vodka for a price/performance leader. Ultimat Vodka was very interesting, it had a lighter mouthfeel than many vodkas and it tasted "clear".

Ben

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I haven't had Ketel One, but people often roll their eyes orgasmically when mentioning it.

I drink Ketel One more because it was the first "premium" vodka I tasted. I drink it chilled, straight with a twist. I can't say I've tasted much difference, other than in side by side comparisons, between KO, Grey Goose, Skye Blue (which I recommend just to support the advertising) and Belevedere.

I've never really liked Absolut -- I think it feels chalky and tastes oily. It's been forever since I've had Stoli.


Edited by Dstone001 (log)

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Yeah, there seems to be a problem with vodka as being described as having no taste.  This is simply not true and is evident to anybody that has ever tasted vodka.  Try this experiment... Take a drink of a fairly good vodka (say Stoli for example) then take a drink of Monarch Vodka.  After the convulsions and horrible facial expressions have subsided, pour monarch down the drain.

I would probably argue that the better the vodka, the less flavor it has. The reason that your face turns inside out from tasting Monarch is because is does, in fact, have flavor (of alcohol mostly). I would agree that different vodkas can have a veryy different mouth feel. The reason that really good vodka goes down so easily for me is because its like drinking water with a kick....

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Doesn't Stolichnaya literally mean "Seat of Government"?

Ivan, its interesting that you say the finest quality russian vodka is made of wheat and only the cheaper vodka is made of potatoes. I was under the impression that Potato vodkas were few and far between. My personal favorite vodka at the moment is Belvedere Chopin, which is a potato vodka made in the Polish style. The regular Belvedere is made out of neutral spirits.

Stoli is my standard mixer vodka.

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tighe- while mouthfeel has a major factor (and a dramatic one) when sampling vodka, I do believe that they do have a taste quality to them. Perhaps this is that of the alcohol, but it is still a taste nonetheless. I believe that the play between the taste and the mouthfeel make a great vodka.

Jason- Ultimat vodka I believe is a blend of differently sourced vodka (potato, wheat, etc...) that results in a unique albeit expensive product. Also, I believe that Hangar One Vodka is made from grape seeds.

Ben

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Lot of misinformation here. First of all, Russian vodka is made from everything: Rye, wheat, beets, potatoes, and anything they can get their hands on. Vodka has NO legal requirements on it to be called vodka--there are multigrain vodkas, potato vodkas, grape vodkas and many more.

The reason the inexpensive (read: plastic half gallon) vodkas taste terrible is the presence of congeners. They haven't been distilled to a high purity and so there is residue of the ingredients flavors. This isn't a problem unless you are using cheap Bulgarian wheat at $100 a ton and beet sugar extracts to start the fermentations. Cheap vodka has cheap ingredients which is what you are tasting.

Vodka does have definite flavor, odor, mouthfeel and distinctive taste. Certainly, the mouthfeel and odor are the two most predominating factors one encounters, but taste definitely exists. Additionally, taste is 70%+ smell, so. . .

As far as the "orgasmic" Ketel one comment above, I must beg to differ. I have never smelled or tasted a vodka with more ethanol on the nose. Horribly made and cheaply made, inferior vodka.

Here are some good choices:

Multi-grain: Stolichnaya Gold, Grey Goose

Wheat: Vox

Potato: Luksusowa, Glacier, Chopin

Rye: Belvedere

Cheap: Svedka

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Seldom can the words "revolutionary" and "cutting-edge" be used with respect to vodka, but here it applies. This is a product of legendary brandy maker Germain-Robin and is easily the most unique vodka I have ever tasted. First of all, the vodka is comprised of "neutral grape spirits" which give each of the Hangar one products a much heavier mouthfeel, viscosity and flavor. The grape distillate doesn't give off disturbing ethanol nuances like many other specialty vodkas. No alcohol traces on the nose whatsoever. Additionally, actual tinctures are made (mixtures of alcohol and another substance) with real fruit. The Buddha's hand lemons reportedly cost $1 apeice. A lot of care, money and time has gone into these vodkas, and it shows.

IMO, easily my pick for the best new product of the year. Try them all, they are unequivocally the best flavored vodkas in the world.

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Chopin Vodka:

This Polish Luxury vodka is the recent winner of the Gold Medal from the International Review of Spirits garnishing an impressive 93 points from the Beverage Institute in Chicago. Produced by the Polmos distillery of Siedlce, Poland, this is unique vodka made from 100% Stobrawa potatoes. Potato distillation leads to much fuller bodied vodka and a heavier taste than most grain vodkas and, without a doubt, this is the potato vodka to try. Distilled four times, but not over-filtered; this vodka has established a good balance between purity and flavor.

The nose of this vodka is slightly sweet with a definitive potato/starch character and hint of alcohol. The palate leans heavily toward the Eastern European styles of vodka and is robust, viscous, starchy and slightly vegetal, reinforcing the nose and having very solid mouthfeel. The finish is clean, but full.

This is not vodka for the timid; it is very full and has definite Polish style (i.e. agressive on the palate). This vodka is not for mixing, but for quiet contemplation over a few cubes of ice or served at the proper -1°C (straight from the freezer or heavily shaken over ice). If you like fuller styles like Grey Goose or Stolichnaya or potato vodka, this is the vodka for you.

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"We know what kind of influence we have over our demographic, and we like to capitalize on every opportunity," Mr. Dash says.

Hey, at least he's honest...

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It's actually not bad... nothing exciting, and I personally prefer my Gzhelka, but not bad. Certainly not worth $30+ per 750ml however..

-s

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It had to swing the other way. All the “cute” malt beverages marketed to wonder bread land.

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Hi everybody,

First I would like to escuse myself for my poor english.

I would like to know what do you think about the Charbay vodkas from Nappa (cal) ?

Thanks

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Charbay vodka is a great vodka, but the flavored vodkas leave a little to be desired. They are artificial tasting. For the best flavored vodka, try Hangar One.

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Ok... now we have an "official" vodka thread :->

As a point of full disclosure let me make two statements about my position regarding vodka:

1. Of all the spirits, vodka is not only my least favorite, but I also don't have much respect for it.

2. I'm always willing to change my viewpoint.

:->

For me, drinking vodka is about as exciting as drinking bottled water. This is not to say (as Mickey inferred I was saying in another thread) that vodka is "tasteless". Try different types of bottled water, and you will clearly notice a different flavor between them. Some are distinctly sweet, some mineral, some are simply "crisp".

As I have pointed out in another thread, US Law states that vodka must be distilled at or above 190 proof, and when bottled diluted to not less then 80 proof.

Mickey has stated that "Most premium vodkas are not distilled above 190 proof" and that there are "no less than 50 vodkas on the market bottled less than 80 proof". I apparently have not done as much research into the numerous vodka brands available as Mickey has (ok... I haven't really done -any- "brand research" into vodka :-), so I'm simply quoting the "law" here, while he apparently knows of some brands that are able to fly below that law.

Mickey, I'd love it if you could drop a few names of the brands you are refering to above. I'd like to get in touch with those companies and get the scoop on how their products are getting this through the system, as well as try some of these (especially the ones that are distilled below 190 proof).

My "current" attitude about vodka is based on simple extrapolation. Distilling a spirit to 190 proof (ie. 95% alcohol) results in removing almost, but not quite, anything that might produce distinctive characteristics that would remain from the initial fermentable product. Most of the remaining 5% (or less) are basically considered contaminants which do not provide a desireable flavor component. Many distillers will further filter this distillate in order to remove as many of the undesireable contaminants as possible.

(If I were a vodka distiller, I would probably try to distill my "neutral spirit" to exactly 190 proof in an attempt to keep as many flavors in the product as possible... it should be also pointed out that distilling neutral spirit to much above 190 proof takes a lot more work, and getting beyond 194 proof is a pointless, and expensive, exercise.)

In order to bottle this as "vodka", it is necessary to reduce the proof to the more appropriate level of between 80 and 100 proof. This is done by adding water. Thus making vodka (according to my calculations based on what is required by law) nearly 60% water.

As stated earlier, bottled water has taste. And one bottled water tastes different then another. Therefore if three different companies were to use the exact same base distillate, and then use different waters (and perhaps additional filtering) to make their vodkas, the end products between these three companies would taste different.

In fact, it is my understanding, that many vodka manufacturers actually -do- use the same base product. Some company will create the 190 proof "neutral spirit", and then sell it to various vodka companies, and those companies will do various things to then turn this product into "their" product.

So... I find products like Whisk(e)y, Rum, Brandy, Tequila, and Gin to be far more interesting. (point of note... the process of making gin is almost identical to that of vodka, but additional flavoring botonicals are added to produce it's distinctive flavor... gin -is- flavored vodka, just one with a far more "complex" flavor then what a flavored vodka would normally have).

...Mikey, you clearly have done quite a lot of research on vodka, far more then I have. The above represents a distillation (pun intended :-) of what my thoughts are about vodka. I would love to hear abuot anywhere in the above where you think I have come to the wrong conclusion. I've talked with a few vodka reps and distillers, who after I lay out my thoughts, have basically said... "yeah, that's about right...".

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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I know Hangar 1 vodkas and I love Hangar 1 mandarin blossom but I really don't like the Kaffir lime and the "buddha's hand“ citron.

But also I think it's cool to explore new flavored like those.

Have you ever try Absolut Vanilia ? because here in Paris we don't have it yet.

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I never try Effen vodka but I love the packaging of the bottle.

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