What's Up With All The "Special" Kinds Of Vodka?

Why are there so many different kinds of new vodkas, while brands of gin, rum and tequila stay the same?

Freakonomics thinks since other liquors have more unique tastes, while vodka is flavorless, it’s easy for a new guy to enter into the market, especially if they’ve got a fancy marketing campaign. For instance, the whole Grey Goose story is mere fanfaronade. Sidney Frank decided he was going to make a more expensive vodka that people would buy into because of its price and mystique driven backstory. France, oh, they are so refined… and not exactly renowned for their vodka distilleries.

Those who disagree may be guilty of drinking the packaging.

Is Vodka Different? [Freakonomics]
(Photo: What Rhymes With Nicole)

Comments

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  1. bambino says:

    On the contrary, Grey Goose tastes far smoother than well-grade Taaka or Stolichnaya. Try it editors. Sometimes higher price really does mean higher quality.

  2. mconfoy says:

    @bambino: Sure, a blind test taste done in the NY Times had Smirnoff made in the USA come out on top.

  3. mconfoy says:

    P.T. Barnum was not wrong.

  4. FLConsumer says:

    I forget which news organisation performed it, but they got about 10-15 people together to sample various brands of vodka. The general consensus was that the cheaper brands “tasted smoother” than the others. Try a blind test on it. Maybe some people can sense the difference, but for my $$, I’ll go with the cheaper vodka and put the extra $ towards more booze or savings.

  5. choinski says:

    “When Sidney Frank who made that he decided he was going to make a more expensive vodka that people would buy into because of its price and mystique driven backstory. France, oh, they are so refined… “

    – Sounds like someone’s been at a Vodka-tasting too long.

  6. peejaybee says:

    One of the commenters pointed out that vodka doesn’t have to be aged like most other spirits, which may have a lot to do with it. If you make whiskey, it’s going to be years before you can even sell your product, and all the while you are going to have to store it under the proper conditions while the rough edges age out. With vodka, you’re good to go as soon as you get it cooled off from the still.

  7. tinychicken says:

    Grey Goose is all hype. That high price you are paying is not for quality, it is purely for the name and so you can look like a worldly big spender in front of your friends.

  8. bilge says:

    Those pretty bottles cost a lot of money!

  9. Alexander says:

    @mconfoy: I think Dateline made a blind vodka test with NY club goers and most of them picked Smirnoff as the best vodka. This is funny, my brother in law fancies himself a vodka connoisseur and he too swore up and down he could tell the difference in vodkas and of course, to him Grey Goose was the best. He talked crap so much that we decided to give him a blind test which he assured us he would tell the difference. Needless to say, we all know what happened. His reaction was funny though because the first vodka we have him was smirnoff and he did all that stuff: sniffing, tasting, swirling in his mouth, he said he would taste the others but he was sure that one would be the best. Then the last vodka, he just smelled it and instantly said “I don’t even have to taste this, it’s crap!”. Lo and behold, that was the Grey Goose. Hilarious.

  10. ancientsociety says:

    I try not to be an alcohol snob but, with vodka, I do prefer Effen or Stoli. I always thought Smirnoff tasted like gasoline.

  11. MeOhMy says:

    There is something to the neutral flavor of vodka. I imagine a peach-flavored whiskey would be pretty nasty.

    However, there are a number of trend gins as well – Tanq 10, Hendricks, Plymouth, Boodles, Tanq Rangpur, etc etc etc.

  12. savvy9999 says:

    If you drink vodka straight n’ cold, I believe that you could maybe tell the difference between premium and house brands.

    However, as soon as you mix it with anything stronger than an ice cube, it truly does not matter anymore, you’re paying extra for image at that point.

    Ditto for fine single-malt scotches (although why someone would mix anything with a fine scotch is beyond me) and tequilas.

  13. TangDrinker says:

    Thank you, to those of you who bought into the hype of Grey Goose. Because of you, Mr. Frank donated a ton of money to my high school. I don’t think they started serving vodka in the cafeteria, but maybe they did at the art gallery openings.

    Because of that highschool I studied Russian. Because of studying Russian I studied abroad in college and drank lots of vodka. Because I drank lots of vodka, I tend to disagree with this study a bit, but agree that if you mix it with something – who cares what you use!

  14. rmz says:

    Stoli Blueberri is pretty good. Aside from that, no flavorings please.

  15. Flackette Goes Retro says:

    I do find a few vodkas to be a little bit smoother if you’re going to be taking straight shots of it. But vodka is generally one of those things mixed into a foofy fruity drink. In that case it really doesn’t matter. I won’t go as low as a complete off brand, but I will not spend a lot of money on vodka either. As a point of contrast, I am extremely picky about my bourbon (born and raised Kentuckian that I am). I drink bourbon for taste, not just to dump alcohol into my bloodstream. Vodka is a cheap, flexible way to get drunk as fast as possible.

  16. rbb says:

    And I bet all the Grey Goose proponents use “Monster Cables” to connect all their audio and video equipment…

  17. choinski says:

    I have a freind who works at America’s test Kitchen. He claims they were able to take a cheap, crappy-tasting vodka, run it through a Brita water filter about 20-30 times, and it was indistinguishable from the flavorless high-end expensive vodkas.

  18. Obtusegoose says:

    The Consumerist word-of-the-day is fanfaronade: arrogant or boastful talk.

  19. bambino says:

    You’ve got your head stuck 5 feet deep in your ass if you tell me Takka tastes like Grey Goose. I’m not some blind proponent of GG, but there’s a reason some liquors are top shelf while others are wells. No matter what it’s mixed with, you can tell the difference. For those that like to be thrifty even when it comes to their cocktails, go ahead & keep drinking that rubbing alcohol. Plebians.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    At local bars, their well drink is Absolut. So you can’t slip down very far. That said, I usually get a (super) premium for my first drink, when my taste buds and potential mating partners are sharp as a tack. After that, it’s well drinks all the way, baybie!

    Have a 2l bottle of Skyy in the freezer at home, since it’s cocktails all da time.

    Have a friend that insists (insists!) that the well drinks are trash and 5 martinis in, he can taste the difference. Of “ghetto” Absolut. Lucky he has so many other positive attributes or I’d drown him in a tub of bathtub gin.

  21. Shadowman615 says:

    Yup. All of the same people who were ordering Absolut so they could have a name-brand vodka 10 years ago are ordering Grey Goose today. *Most* can’t tell the difference, and blind taste tests usually show that.

    When I worked as a bartender, I knew other bartenders and managers who would regularly substitute the rail brands for Grey Goose or Ketel One or whatever — whenever they could get away with it.

    They’d do this by either filling the good bottles with the cheap stuff, or simply pouring with the wrong one when the customer wasn’t watching (eg for a faraway table at a restaraunt). Management and owners are obsessed with keeping bar & liquor costs down, and usually come down hard on the bartenders about it. So this kind of stuff happens all of the time — just another way to screw the customers to save a few bucks.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    last time i checked, a martini in soho was $10 whether it had grey goose or bankers’ club, so what’s the big deal?

    when i’m at the bar, i prefer grey goose or stoli, when i go to the package store i buy for price. usually the handle of stolichnaya wins, but not always.

    now, tequila on the other hand…if i see a post on here about how jose cuervo is just as good as herradora & i’m gonna come down there & smack somebody.

  23. mac-phisto says:

    @Shadowman615: They’d do this by either filling the good bottles with the cheap stuff

    precisely why it is illegal to “marry” bottles in connecticut. bars can try to get away with it, but i know one bar owner who lost his license when the state audited his books. try explaining out how you sold 6 cases of grey goose when all you were buying was burnett’s.

  24. formergr says:

    I really don’t like Grey Goose at all, but am fairly happy with Ketel One for my “everyday” drinks. When treating myself or splurging I luuuuuurv Chopin. Whether it’s a gimmick or not I don’t know, but it’s made from potatoes instead of wheat(?) like most other vodkas sold in the U.S. are. Tastes very, very smooth (I drink my vodka with club soda).

  25. Chicago7 says:

    What about gin?

  26. drjayphd says:

    @choinski: They did that on Mythbusters too. While they were able to taste a difference, it would’ve just been cheaper to go out and get the Grey Goose in the first place.

  27. mookiemookie says:

    One of the links mentioned Tito’s as one of the best in America…it’s true. I don’t even consider any other type of vodka. Priced on par with the Absoluts of the world, it’s a steal.

  28. vanilla-fro says:

    Not true of the mythbusters thing. If they wouldn’t have used a new filter everytime, it would have been cheaper to filter it yourself. I doubt the filter is spent after the first pour.

    Personally I can’t drink Vodka, ok I can and very well but not allowed anymore as I get a bit froggy after several vodka drinks. As I recall it doesn’t matter after the first 3 or 4 drinks.

  29. realjen01 says:

    Mmmmm….rasberry Stoli with soda and lime. A refreshing summertime treat :)

  30. olegna says:

    Do vodkas do the same thing as whiskeys and tequilas? I know with whiskey and tequila, they’re watered down with basic grain alcohol. (That’s why Cuervo is appallingly nasty while Tradicional, a higher-priced tequila also made by Jose Cuervo is really good: because the latter is 100% tequila and the former is watered down with basic grain alcohol.

    I can’t tell the difference between popular brands of similarly priced vodkas (Absolut vs. Grey Goose, for example). But I recall there’s this cheapo Russian vodka (can’t recall the name) that is pretty gross.

  31. hoosier45678 says:

    @Troy F.:
    However, there are a number of trend gins as well – Tanq 10, Hendricks, Plymouth, Boodles, Tanq Rangpur, etc etc etc.
    Boodles (my martini choice) was introduced in 1845! Plymouth is even older.

  32. IndyJaws says:

    I keep a nice wide selection of flavored vodkas (Absolut, Stoli, Three Olives, Smirnoff) in the IndyJaws basement bar. I agree that you can’t taste the difference when mixed with anything other than tonic, and after a few with tonic, even then most start tasting alike. However, Kamchacka tastes like shit 24/7.

  33. sveta says:

    Not all vodka is hype. Ikon True Russian Vodka is excellent at half the price of the pretty bottles with liquid inside. Imperia is also exceptional. The vodka from Texas Tito’s is also very good. The marketing of vodka runs in cycles. One day people will tire of shiny bottles and someone will introduce a plain bottle and the consumer will go wild over its minimalism.

  34. MercuryPDX says:

    I’ll second that Grey Goose is hype. I’ve been an Absolut drinker for forever, with Smirnoff as my second choice. Since I usually drink it on the rocks, the taste does make a difference and I can tell. As soon as you mix it into something, the brand doesn’t matter.

  35. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    @savvy9999: There are lots of differences in single malt Scotch. Drink a Laphroiag and then and a Macallan. If you can’t taste a difference, then you have no tastebuds.

  36. MercuryPDX says:

    @olegna: The brand you’re looking for is Popov, but it’s not Russian. Despite the name it’s distilled in the US. It’s a common “well brand” that has a really nasty aftertaste.

  37. no.no.notorious says:

    if you drink it straight, quality does matter, which translates to a pricier vodka

    if you’re planning on mixing it anyway, just order well/rail vodka. there’s a difference, but not if you’re going to water it down with juice anyway

  38. NinaHagen says:

    @ancientsociety: I need more Effen vodka! Seriously, I saw, many moons ago in the East Village, Stalingrad Vodka and – this is the kicker – it was bottled in Rahway, NJ. Then there were the days when you could buy Firewater 105…so old…so much vodka…

  39. Youthier says:

    I have to hand it to our local wineries – we’re in a “country” location that attracts a lot of tourists with a desire to “relax among the little people” and money to burn. The wineries have began to cash in yet again with their new premium local vodkas. Tastes the same but people pay big money to say they bought it from “a little country winery”.

  40. Youthier says:

    @HeyHermano: I apologize for all the quotes. Those came off as really obnoxious.

  41. @olegna: “I know with whiskey and vodka, they water it down with grain alcohol”

    DING! You win the kewpie doll!

    From wikipedia:
    Vodka [contains] ethanol purified by distillation from a fermented substance such as grain or molasses, and insignificant amounts of other substances: impurities and possibly flavorings.

    I don’t know how many of you clicked through to the articles to read the discussion of sources of vodka. Nearly all vodka is essentially heavily filtered everclear that’s been watered down. Vodka can be made from about anything, but typically in this country it’s just grain alcohol.

    That said: Luskowa is a potato vodka, and is relatively cheap. You can’t get it in most bars, but it is far and away my favorite vodka. Then again I could be deluding myself like everyone else is about their choice, but I do know I enjoy it far more than Smirnoff or Absolut, each of which cost more.

    Of the three taste tests linked from that Freakonomics post:
    1. NYT goes into detail regarding the sources of vodka (including outlining the fact that most vodka is distilled by one company and then packaged/produced by another) but judges only 1 potato vodka and gives its highest mark to the “classic vodka flavor” of Smirnoff.
    2. ABC news doesn’t seem to mention the sources in any great detail
    3. Slate gives its highest marks to Chopin, which is potato based.

    In the end: smooth x 12$/750ml = me being happy with my brand. Grey Goose and Belvedere elitists can shove off.

  42. Mojosan says:

    I only drink vodka. Generally straight up and very cold.

    There is a huge difference in vodkas. They may be mostly without “taste” but they all have a different bite, smoothness, mouth feel, and an aftertaste.

    Saying “It’z All tEh hypE!!! is as ridiculous as saying all cuts of beef are the same.

    My favorite brand is Ketel One. GG, Chopin, and Pravda are all good as well.

    I do think there are a number of vodkas that are more packaging sleight-of-hand than good vodkas. Effen, Skyy, and a few others come to mind.

  43. oldtaku says:

    Vodkas taste stunningly different when neat. We did our own blind taste test – our conclusion was that Svedka was the best taste for the money. Not as cheap as crap like Popov of course, but about half the cost of GG or Skyy and better tasting as well. Of course this is mostly when neat, but it does come through in screwdrivers or vodka martinis as well.

  44. Hoss says:

    I practicely never drink cola or black tea, as examples. Therefore my impression of those drinks is that there is virtually no flavor difference b/w brands. But others would righfully disagree.

    I enjoy an extra dry vodka martini. I can certainly tell when I don’t get the vodka I ordered. Popular vodkas in the US are mostly grain based (wheat, rye and/or barley). Potato or sugar vodkas offer a much different taste. But in the grain based vodka family, brands are certainly distictive. (Flavored vodkas are like flavored coffee, I don’t get the concept)

  45. beyond says:

    I drink vodka straight from freezer. There is a difference between the brands of vodka. Whether one or another is “better” I think is just personal taste. There is a huge difference between the expensive stuff and the ultra cheap stuff, though. But if you are buying a quality vodka (Absolut, Grey, etc) I don’t think it matters and I prefer to stay on the low end of the quality brands, such as Absolut and Triple Olive.

  46. LizS says:

    I work for one of the largest wine and spirits distributors in the United States. For those of you who can’t tell the difference, there definitely is one. We have people that can blindly taste most anything and identify it. It’s a pretty impressive skill that I do not possess, sad to say. Technically, though, vodka is supposed to be flavorless and odorless, unless it is specifically labeled “flavored vodka” in the US.

    I won’t go into the virtues of the different brands, but Grey Goose is a favorite among those in my company and not just because it makes a buttload of money. We have plenty of other (expensive and cheap) vodkas that make us a buttload of money, too, and have pretty bottles. :)

  47. veronykah says:

    @Shadowman615:
    SO true! Having been a bartender myself, the people who say they KNOW their vodka are full of shit. They would get x, y or z vodka poured instead of what they ordered and NEVER know the difference. But then again, most people don’t know squat when it comes to anything alcoholic. I’ve had wine snobs return wine asking for a fresh bottle, because of some non-existant issue. They were poured another glass from the same bottle and lo and behold it “tasted much better!”. Please.

  48. dherman75 says:

    There is indeed a difference from one vodka to the next in terms of the distilling and purification methodologies used and the resulting taste they produce. Starting from the choice of fuel to convert into ethanol (IE grain/potato/grape/sugar ect), to the filtration (I personally can taste notes of charcoal in Gray Goose and an almost sweet taste from Ketel One…obviously before I can only taste purple and pass out :P), finally to the bottling. Sometimes salty foods can help to highlight these flavors in contrast, however I just like mine straight up. Preferentially (aka if I have the cash) its Chopin or Armadale…but like its been said over and over again, NONE OF THIS MATTERS IF YOU ARE MIXING! Heck, I still buy bankers club if plenty of people are coming over…However, I preface this with the simple statement that if you cant taste the difference then just buy the cheap stuff! But, there are slight differences in each…just like tap-water (or spring water) isnt simply just two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen, there are minerals and residues that impart subtle flavors that give a characteristic taste!

  49. The Bigger Unit says:

    Have your liquor named in several idiotic rap songs. That’s the golden ticket (see: Patron tequila). That’s what happened with Grey Goose.

  50. Plasmafire says:

    The consumerist should go for it and have a work sponsored drinking contest… I mean “blind taste test” with everyone they can get to volunteer.. or till they run out of Vodka.. whichever comes first, as long as they have the designated drivers record the results and not the people doing the drinking.

  51. There’s totally a difference between vodka, as it pertains to the hangover the next day. The cheap stuff makes you feel like death warmed over. More expensive, filtered ones, aren’t as bad.

  52. Captain Sassypants says:

    @krylonultraflat: Luksusowa is totally made by Belvedere so you are ever so subtly paying for your nice label.

  53. ivanthepig says:

    Try this yourself. As a vodka-lover, I can tell you that I personally enjoy potato-made vodka. Try this:

    Go to a bar. Get a mixed drink. Vodka and coke. You’ll be able to definitely distinguish the coke, from the vodka. Now, try it with house-brand vodka, and also try it with KetelOne vodka. Then try it with Grey Goose. Then, again, try it with Stoli. Then… Smirnoff.

    By now, you should be really drunk and just not care about which Vodka was better.

  54. Mr. Gunn says:

    Too much talking, not enough drinking! Those of you who can afford it, buy the expensive stuff. You deserve it, and you’re subsidizing the cheap stuff for the rest of us.

  55. zibby says:

    Smirnoff is fine – better than fine, it’s quite good. It just annoys people that professional alcoholics can afford to drink it every day. It’s a brand problem, not a product problem.

    Grey Goose is for suckers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine, but not better than Ketel One – which last time I checked was ~$10 less per fifth. And Ketel One is better than Smirnoff (to my taste) but, again, not enough to justify the price difference.

    I will say that Popov, Georgi, Majorska, Fosnoff, etc. are pretty damned raw and I avoid them if possible. The beauty of vodka is that even Smirnoff drinkers can be a little snobby.

  56. Hexum2600 says:

    I would like to

  57. Hexum2600 says:

    I would like to point out that Russian and Polish vodkas are harsher… because thats what those countries consider better vodka.

  58. Jesse in Japan says:

    So many people spend so much money on higher-quality vodka, only to ruin it by mixing it with low-quality, re-constituted orange juice.

  59. Grimspoon says:

    BY JESSE IN JAPAN AT 12:41 AM

    So many people spend so much money on higher-quality vodka, only to ruin it by mixing it with low-quality, re-constituted orange juice.

    So true.

    I’m polish, I drink middle shelf vodka (Stoli) and I don’t mix it, I drink it cold. I’f you’re mixing vodka, you’re doin it wrong!

    I also laugh at those of you buying Smirnoff. Especially flavoured smirnoff! HA!

  60. mikala says:

    I tend to drink Ketel One. I was out to eat with some friends and ordered an Absolut (they didn’t stock K1) and Cranberry (I’ve read what most of you think of that) and my friend ordered a well version. When the waitress brought our drinks she set them down and said, “I think I’ve got those right”. I wanted to see if I could tell. I tasted mine, which tasted fairly smooth. Then I tasted hers, which tasted really harsh and alcohol-y. Blech, hers was nasty. Assuming mine was the smoother one, I think I can tell the difference even when mixed.

    Now I’m curious to do a blind taste test. I have some K1 and Smirnoff at home…just need to buy some Popov.

    By the way, I hate it when bartenders measure out an actual shot. Somewhat tangential I guess.

  61. Abbott says:

    “imagine a peach-flavored whiskey would be pretty nasty.”

    This is Southern Comfort, esstentially, a peach liquer made from whiskey. I like to call it “Janiskiller,” throw a few ‘ludes in there and you can feel what it is to die like her.

    As for vodka, when I lived in Idaho there was a potato vodka called Glacier (IIRC) made from Idaho Potatoes grown near the distillery. About $20/fifth. I thought it was extra yum but I could have just been fooling myself with the local pride factor. They also made a very good berry liqueur called “Hideous” (yeah, I don’t get it either”) with area berries which is yum++. Wish they had this stuff down in New Mexico, where you can’t get Dickel or Rebel Yell anywhere, either. They do sell liquor in grocery stores, though, which more than makes up for it.

  62. CyGuy says:

    What happened to Pepper flavored vodka’s my last trip to the mega liquor store (CORRIDOR LIQUORS in Laurel, MD) the only pepper flavored one was ABSOLUTE PEPAR. Meanwhile, the local Cyber cafe/bar I go to has a giant jar of vodka on the bar which they themselves have filled with hot peppers. The jar is fitted with a spigot so they can drain off a shot at a time for drinking straight-up or for mixing into a Bloody Marys.

  63. Alvis says:

    I stopped buying vodka a while back. I just get 190 proof grain alcohol and use half as much.

    Cheaper and tastes better. A consumerist win!

  64. G-Dog says:

    Grey Goose has a back story? I like it because it doesn’t burn as much as the bottom shelf crap I normally buy.

    I don’t drink because I like the flavor or social aspect, I drink to get jacked up. Grey Goose (and other top shelf brands) are the only think I can do shots of. The first Grey Goose shot I ever had, I said to the buyer “This shit has to be expensive”, as it was like drinking water.

    My drink of choice is a $7 bottle of rum and whatever generic cola is on sale. Normally Faygo. Zero to drunk in $8 is a great feeling!

  65. mconfoy says:

    Now we see, marketing does work for the masses, so much proof :-) here. I can tell the difference in a neutral, flavorless, drink. Excuse me, what does neutral and flavorless mean? Doesn’t neutral and having no flavor always mean by definition that it equals soemthing else that is neutral and flavorless? And except to mix, is there any possible reason to drink vodka?

  66. JPropaganda says:

    ummmm…the other brands do have lots and lots of flavors! Look at Bacardi (razz)…they have orange, raspberry, vanilla, etc etc.

    Tequila is a much stronger flavored drink, but Cuervo has orange, lemon-lime…

  67. surgesilk says:

    Drinking french vodka is like drinking russian champagne…it just shouldn’t be done.

  68. MeOhMy says:

    @hoosier45678: OK Strike those. For some reason I thought that both Plymouth and Boodles were just old names that had fallen out of use and been resurrected for the cachet of saying things like “Oldest working distillery in the world.” I pretty much always assume that any claims in the back-story are fairly dubious.

  69. killavanilla says:

    I bartended and manages bars and restaurants for 10 years.
    I’ve had this debate hundred of times over vodka.
    Vodka is flavorless in nature. But even more telling, Vodka is nothing more than grain alchohol mixed with filtered water.
    To be clear here (no pun intended), I’ve set up tastings left and right. Not one person ever has been able to guess correctly on one over the other in a blind test.
    When I made it easier and told them which vodka they would be tasting, one in ten could specifically name one of five vodkas correctly.
    My tip? Stop wasting money on brand names and start using your taste buds.
    My personal rec? Smirnoff triple distilled vodka is the best tasting, smoothest vodka out there. It’s also far cheaper.
    But most of all, understand that most folks drink vodka with a mixer that completely masks the flavor of the vodka.
    You cannot tell the difference in taste between a cosmo made with smirnoff, chopin, belvedere or ketel one.
    The same is true for Vodka and cranberry juice.
    And for all of you out there who mix expensive vodka with redbull, know your bartender is laughing at your order.
    We used to call them night ruiners.
    Vodka gets you drunk and red bull wakes you up. The diuretic effects of alchohol and the ingredients in red bull makes you need to urinate more frequently. And the caffeine and other ingredients make have a mild laxative effect.
    So essentially, when bartenders watch folks get drunk on red bull and ketel, they know that the person will likely find themselves awake for hours, drunk as a skunk, and sitting on a toilet.
    Which is funny.
    Some folks will never break their brand loyalty, and that’s fine (drink what you like), but unless you are ordering flavored vodka, the taste is the same – tasteless.

  70. bobbycreekwater says:

    I do think that most Vodka brands do taste the same but I dare ONE person to tell me that Mr. Boston Vodka tates the same as Smirnoff or Grey Goose, Mr. Bostons Vodka tastes like grains of salt and is absolutely the worse alcohol to date.

  71. bbbici says:

    I bartended at a “Vodka Bar”. One day I lined up samples of our 2 dozen or so ice-cold vodkas for taste testing. Grey Goose was noticably ‘better’, but not enough to justify the 50-100% markup over other brands. Absolut was among the worst.

    Stick with a normal Polish or Russian vodka (Wyborowa or Stoli) and you can’t go wrong.

    “Premium” vodkas are for ignorant suckers, especially if mixed in a cocktail.

  72. thepounder says:

    Run el cheapo vodka thru a Brita pitcher… but do not filter it more than 5 or 6 times, otherwise there’s nothing left to the vodka at all, taste-wise.
    Personally I’d suggest using the Brita-filtered swill vodka for mixing with Red Bull or Fresca, or whatever citrusy bevvy you wish, but don’t use it in a vodka-tonic. But that’s just me. My days of vodka and Red Bull have long since passed, but red Bull was quite good at masking skunky vodka.
    Nowadays I really enjoy Absolut Peppar — makes for an awesome Bloody Mary, as well as being a great ingredient for penne a la vodka. mmm… :)

  73. Smackdown says:

    Everyone should, however, try Zubrowka at some point in their life. That shit is the bomb.

  74. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    @bambino: there’s a reason some liquors are top shelf while others are wells.

    You’re absolutely correct. It’s due to an age-old distillers’ principle called “taking more cash out of the customer’s wallet.” Emperor’s new clothes, baby.