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How would you describe the taste of Smirnoff?

Pei Sep 8, 2006 02:56 AM

I know it's not fine vodka, but it's on sale and I want it for making infused vodka.

So, vodka drinkers, how would you describe the taste of Smirnoff neat? Is it clean/mild enough to not overpower the fruit flavors?

I've only ever made vodka infusions with Stoli (got lucky and found that on sale), and really liked the results.

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  1. Melanie RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 04:08 AM

    I don't mind smirnoff if it's in a mixed drink, but the stuff on its own is pretty vile, imo - it tastes like rubbing alcohol. If you are going to go through the trouble of infusing, I would go ahead and spend the extra couple of bucks and get a decent bottle of vodka.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie
      ted RE: Melanie Sep 8, 2006 05:53 PM

      I concur on the rubbing alcohol assessment. Even bought their top-shelf attempt once and thought the same thing.

    2. j
      jona2325 RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 06:40 AM

      not sure if vile is fair ..I think it's described as being "hot".

      1. JMF RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 02:32 PM

        Smirnoff has won out over the super premium vodkas in several blind taste tests.

        1. b
          beevod RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 02:56 PM

          In a blind tasting, I doubt whether an "expert" could distinguish between Stoly and Plotski. It's all in the marketing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: beevod
            TexasToast RE: beevod Sep 11, 2006 11:15 PM

            Oh no, some of the really cheap stuff that comes in plastic gallon jugs tastes like nail polish remover. It's really only good for "Trash-Can Punch" , or "Jello Shots"!


          2. Davwud RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 03:06 PM

            If you can get your hands on Iceburg vodka, I'd use that.


            1. g
              gourmetla RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 06:36 PM

              Smirnoff's fine though it does have a rubbing alcohol taste AND smell to it. But I'm glad you're making your own infusions. Pre-fab flavored vodkas are the worst thing to happen to a vodka drinker.

              1. JMF RE: Pei Sep 8, 2006 08:07 PM

                I would go with Gordons. It is very clean tasting with no burn and I have never gotten a headache from it. It is relatively inexpensive and is what I always use for making my liqueurs.

                1. gina RE: Pei Sep 9, 2006 03:33 AM

                  Smirnoff has a strong bite neat, but so does regular Stoli, for that matter. For me, the difference is that Smirnoff = headache. If it doesn't affect you, I say go ahead with it.

                  1. r
                    rotochicken RE: Pei Sep 9, 2006 06:46 PM

                    Smirnoff is the best choice, all things considered, for infusions. It is clean, slightly sweet, with vague barely-there florals. It is not so distinctive or powerful (good or bad) that it will interfere with anything you do to it. IMO, it is very clearly the best deal in vodka and the perfect choice for mixed drinks and infusions.
                    As a poster above noted, it did win a blind tasting (New York Times) over virtually every premium brand you've ever heard of.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: rotochicken
                      Bobfrmia RE: rotochicken Sep 11, 2006 02:03 AM

                      I just did Blueberry, Pineapple, Habanero, Coffee, and Watermelon infusions. I used Smirnoff for all of them.
                      They are all very good.
                      The Smirnoff didn't have much burn, until I infused it with Habaneros. Makes a killer bloody mary.

                      1. re: Bobfrmia
                        bryan RE: Bobfrmia Sep 11, 2006 04:29 AM

                        Please tell me more about the coffee infusion and what you use it for bob. TYIA

                        1. re: bryan
                          Bobfrmia RE: bryan Sep 11, 2006 01:20 PM

                          Some of these I did on a small trial basis. The coffee was one. Just a pint jar about 1/4 full of whole coffee beans. Fill to the top with vodka. Let it sit for 3-4 weeks. Turned a very nice clear dark brown. Needs little filtering, just a quick pour through cheesecloth.
                          I figured it would be good in White Russians, or anywhere that you would use Kahlua, but so far have just tried it on the rocks.

                    2. b
                      bobh RE: Pei Sep 11, 2006 02:01 PM

                      Just after prohabition, congress re-wrote the laws governing vodka, and gin. Their law was so narrow, there was practically no difference in quality in the most expensive booze, and the cheapest. The most expensive was the most advertised, but in quality no better than the cheapest. Once the industry noted this, they pressured congress, and when they wrote the law for whiskey, etc. the above did not apply. Of course, this only applies to distilled in the U.S.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bobh
                        TexasToast RE: bobh Sep 13, 2006 01:39 PM

                        So how would you describe the taste of Smirnoff then?


                        1. re: TexasToast
                          bobh RE: TexasToast Sep 18, 2006 05:16 PM

                          I use the cheapest. Quality is as good as the most expensive U.S. made brand. Taste is your choice

                      2. therealbigtasty RE: Pei Sep 11, 2006 07:16 PM

                        Just buy cheaper stuff, like Popov, and run it through the Gray Kangaroo personal liquor filter.


                        I bought one and it works quite nicely.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: therealbigtasty
                          rotochicken RE: therealbigtasty Sep 11, 2006 07:35 PM

                          Well, although those things do work, it isnt worth it. In fact, just filtering completely nasty vodka 2 or 3 times through your basic Brita water filter results in vodka almost indistinguishable from the good stuff. However, the cost difference between Popov + filters (which do get used up) and Smirnoff is small. In fact, I think Mythbusters did this whole scenario and concluded that the cost of the filters essentially eliminated the savings on the vodka.

                        2. m
                          Maya RE: Pei Sep 11, 2006 11:04 PM

                          I go whole-hog and use grey goose for infusions. Another great one (much cheaper), Svedka, is mentioned in this article:


                          Pineapple, cucumber and pomegranate are the perennial favorites at our house. Black pepper is also awesome for bloody marys.

                          1. Josh RE: Pei Sep 11, 2006 11:15 PM

                            I've used both Grey Goose and Belvedere, because you can get them at Trader Joe's at a nice savings.

                            1. Greg B RE: Pei Sep 11, 2006 11:57 PM

                              A couple of years ago I took part in a panel doing a blind tasting of vodkas. Our near-unanimous winner was Smirnoff, over Absolut and Gray Goose. The Absolut was quite vile in that environment (sniffed, swirled and spat out, then sipped neat) while the Gray Goose had some vegetal tones. The Smirnoff was quite clean and pure by contrast. But personally, I still like Ketel One.

                              1. m
                                Maya RE: Pei Sep 12, 2006 05:48 PM

                                Oops, I mixed it up - I used Ketel 1 too. It definitely is the best for infusions.

                                1. m
                                  Malik RE: Pei Sep 13, 2006 02:16 AM

                                  By law, vodka is supposed to be clear and tasteless. There are some minor differences among vodka brands, but they're not huge, and in blind tastings, the results will often surprise you. You should be fine using Smirnoff as your base for infused vodka, the taste you're adding through infusion will overpower most defects in your base vodka anyway.

                                  Since you're in LA as per your profile, you can also check out some of the obscure vodka's that Trader Joe's carries. A few years ago, they used to carry a Russian vodka called Moskovskaya that was made by Cristall Distillery, the same people that make Stoli. I once did a blind tasting of that vodka and Stoli out of the freezer, and the two tasted pretty similar, and we were split 50/50 as to which vodka we preferred. I don't know if it's still available at TJs, but another one that you should consider which is definitely there is Monopolowa, a vodka of Polish descent now made in Austria. It's available pretty cheap for the 1 litre bottle, and is quite good. It's won awards from various competition if you care about that...

                                  1. s
                                    Schveinhund RE: Pei Sep 13, 2006 04:34 AM

                                    Smirnoff is just OK. I prefer Zyr Vodka or Ketel One.

                                    1. a
                                      ashwood RE: Pei Sep 13, 2006 06:39 AM

                                      oookay..... to quickly end the vodka debate. here's how vodkas are made: it starts with NGS(neutral grain spirit). This is almost pure alcohol, and usually made in bulk. there are only 4 distileries that produce it in the US, and in some countries, they're state run. This means that all are virtually identical. This NGS is then dilluded to 40-60%alcohol. so, you are basically drinking alcoholic water. There are differences, but as long as you're buying a decent one, you shouldn't have a problem. and vodka is used for infusing specifically because it will not overpower anything else. it's a characteristic of vodka. as long as it's not utter shit, you can infuse any vodka, and it will come out fine.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: ashwood
                                        bobh RE: ashwood Sep 13, 2006 11:34 AM

                                        I agree with everything, except the utter shit part. With only 4 distileries, and the current liquor laws, they cannot produce rot-gut vodka or gin.

                                        1. re: ashwood
                                          Greg B RE: ashwood Sep 13, 2006 11:35 PM

                                          Agreed that most shouldn't cause a problem. Funny, though, that certain brands cause me to react differently. I have had headaches the next day after indulging in Finlandia or (especially) Absolut, to the point where I no longer buy Scandinavian vodkas. I had a similar experience once with Stoli. OTOH, I have never had a problem after drinking Iceberg or Ketel One. Iceberg is distilled from corn in Ontario, then shipped in bulk to Newfoundland, where the spirit is diluted to 40% alcohol using water sourced from melted icebergs (which is a vibrant industry there -- you can also buy bottled iceberg water). Good stuff.

                                          1. re: Greg B
                                            JMF RE: Greg B Sep 14, 2006 03:10 AM

                                            We all react differently to different spirits. I can drink enormous amounts of certain spirits and one sip of a certain other spirit has me in bed all the next day, wishing I was dead and covering my head with a pillow. I can drink many gins, scotch, and bourbon to excess; and vodka and cheap rum/tequila has me crying.

                                            1. re: JMF
                                              ashwood RE: JMF Sep 15, 2006 05:19 PM

                                              fernet and jaeger make me puke with only a couple of shots.... has nothing to do with how drunk i am, never had a problem with anything else... so i guess that's true.

                                              1. re: ashwood
                                                JMF RE: ashwood Sep 15, 2006 09:03 PM

                                                Well, you know that both Fernet Branca and Jaegermeister are not meant to be drunk as shots. They are meant to be sipped in small quantity after dinner as a digestif to settle the stomach. I personally think any digestif that is drunk in shots or more than a small amount would make anyone ill.

                                            2. re: Greg B
                                              gourmetla RE: Greg B Sep 20, 2006 04:58 PM

                                              That's interesting. I thought I was the only one that didn't like vodkas with Scandinavian origins. Svedka, Absolut and Finlandia are the worse for me--bad headaches the next day. I rather have Smirnoff.

                                          2. a
                                            ashwood RE: Pei Sep 13, 2006 03:54 PM

                                            not all distileries are in the US. If you use horrible water, say, the tap water in some cities, it would taste horrible. but if they filter the water at all, which i'm sure there are few who don't, there couldn't be much problem.

                                            1. a
                                              ashwood RE: Pei Sep 18, 2006 09:45 PM

                                              tell that to the guys at work.......

                                              1. g
                                                gymbeaux RE: Pei Sep 19, 2006 12:43 PM

                                                Running lower end vodkas through a charcoal water filter really does alter the taste. Now granted it's not cost effective unless your doing this a lot, but if you have a brita cartrige at the end of its run then it might be worth it for you if you want a cleaner taste before infusion.


                                                1. t
                                                  Tugboat RE: Pei Sep 19, 2006 01:55 PM

                                                  It depends on the temp of it.

                                                  If it is warm, it tastes like warm water.

                                                  If it is cold, it tastes like cold water.

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