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Hey… That’s Not Vodka!

First off let’s get something straight. Let’s take a quick glance at the definition of vodka, as defined by the U.S. Government:

Sec. 5.22 - The standards of identity.

Standards of identity for the several classes and types of distilled spirits set forth in this section shall be as follows (see also Sec. 5.35, class and type):

(a) Class 1: neutral spirits or alcohol. “Neutral spirits” or “alcohol” are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190[deg] proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80[deg] proof.

(1) “Vodka” is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

Now it’s the “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” that I’d like to call some attention to.

What’s with all the flavored vodkas now-a-days? And why is it that it’s usually the bottom of the barrel brands that have to manipulate, what’s supposed to be tasteless, the original product? OK I’m sure I’m going to get a beating for coming down on all you Absolut and Van Gough drinkers but something odd is happening to the Vodka business. Just how many flavors does Absolut have to come out with anyway? Are they trying to complete with Snapple?

This brings me to my second point. When does vodka really change into something else? If I threw a few juniper berries into the bottle would it become, like, a distant cousin of gin? If I added a few oak chips, let it sit for a while, what then? Why can’t we just leave poor little vodka alone?

One thing I’ve found is that if you want really good smooth vodka, you need to steer clear of the distillers that mask their product with vanilla, cumquats & dingle berries. My current flavor of the month is XO by Jean Mare. I couldn’t imagine adding anything to it (although after half the bottle once, I was tempted to add some crumbled up Captain Crunch cereal).

I met the XO sales rep at the Southern Wine & Spirits show at Chelsea Piers two years ago and we laughed at how, as they were trying to keep improving their filtering process for smoother pours, the other “guys” were busy trying to mask theirs up.

Just a thought. Anyone up for some Captain Crunch?

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  1. 1. Women like foo-foo drinks.
    2. Vodka makers want to sell more vodka.
    3. Make vodka more foo-foo and women or girlie men will drink more of it.

    It's no different than the bastardization of the Martini.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bkhuna

      Just to clarify: Not ALL women like foo-foo drinks. Me for example. I'll do vodka tonic or maybe a dirty vodka martini. Maybe I'll do a cape cod if I feel the need for vitamins.

      And to the OP: Er. Um. Dingle berry juice? Do you know what that is?

      1. re: mojoeater

        Hmmm.... Martini's don't contain Vodka. But that's another argument for another thread :)

        1. re: bkhuna

          I almost always drink gin. But if I clarify 'vodka martini,' I think it's acceptable. I expect gin if I just say 'martini.'

          1. re: bkhuna

            Wait, you mean to tell me that vodka and orange juice is not an "orange martini"?

            Peach Schnapps, Vodka, Cranberry, OJ & Pineapple is not a, uh, well, a "sex on the beach martini"?

            In the last the 10 years, you pour a beer into a martini glass they call it a "hops & barley martini".

            1. re: billyparsons

              Bingo! That's presicely what I was alluding to.

      2. It's not just the bottom of the barrel ones. At work we keep one regular and flavored of vodkas with multiple flavors. We have Stoli Vanilla, Absolut Mandrin, Vox Raspberry, Ketel One Citron, Grey Goose l'Orange, a candied ginger vodka I'd never even heard of, and I'm sure a couple of others that don't immediately come to mind

        1. The EU just made it law that Vodka can ony be called Vodka when made from Grain (rye etc) or potato. That said, the Ukranians do add pepper to their vodka and the Poles sometimes add honey or cherry. However, sometimes they don't calll them vodka.I prefer "plain" vodka. Go figure

          1. A subject near and dear to my heart. It is getting a little bit out of control I agree.
            I've never been tempeted by dinglebery flavored anything (too many 4 legged beasties here)
            I do have a warm place in my heart for Effen vodka. Just really really want to yell out for one someday soon.

            1. I'm no fan of the fruited vodkas either, but it's sort of like you're arguing against different flavored seltzers: yes, you can easily squeeze lime or lemon into it, but clearly a large segment of the population can't be bothered.