In what may have been the most awesome blind taste test ever, a BusinessWeek writer served his friends chilled shots of various brands of vodka to see whether there was any noticeable difference in taste. His argument was that vodka is a neutral spirit and by definition is nearly indistinguishable from one brand to the next—and that consequently the “brand story” (including country of origin) is really all that separates a Grey Goose drinker from a Ketel One alkie. To test this, he asked his subjects to pick their favorite brands from shots and mixed drinks.
It turns out, no one could really tell one vodka from the other—there was one successful pick, but it wasn’t repeatable. (Probably because the subjects were all half-drunk by that point.)
The other conclusion I drew was that when it comes to mixing vodka with fruit juice, or unpurified ice, you might as well as save your money and keep a bottle of Popov around. After mixing with fruit juice, muddled mint, simple syrup, or tap-water ice, the slight subtleties of the vodka in these concoctions go out the window faster than the promise of a contractor who says he’ll come to your house every day to work until the job is done.
Oddly, there’s a related slideshow of various vodka brands with “tasting notes” that seem to imply that every vodka is a unique and beautiful creation. Hmm, looks like we’ll have to try our own blind taste test.