HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >

Best Vodka

Mr. Dish Aug 12, 2010 11:19 AM

Love Hangar One but here in Oregon with state-controlled liquor stores, it's, as the locals say, "spendy." What's your favorite vodka for making martinis or sipping?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. folprivate RE: Mr. Dish Aug 12, 2010 12:16 PM

    for sipping I prefer Ciroc
    for Martini's I prefer Belvidere or Ketel One

    1. StriperGuy RE: Mr. Dish Aug 13, 2010 10:32 AM

      Vodka is largely colorless and flavorless. Heck Smirnoff gets universally good reviews and is rather reasonable. Spend any more then that on vodka and you are paying for the bottle and the marketing campaign.

      2 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy
        diablo RE: StriperGuy Aug 14, 2010 09:20 PM


        1. re: diablo
          foxpoet RE: diablo Jun 16, 2011 11:56 PM

          Also agreed. The top experts tend to choose Smirnoff in blind taste tests. The dirty little secret is most vodkas sold in America are made in America by mixing 100% pure ethanol from an agricultural conglomerate like ADM with purified water and secret flavorings (like oak, in the case of Absolut.) Artisanal vodkas just don't taste "right" for mixing, though the novelty is nice for sipping.

      2. yarm RE: Mr. Dish Aug 13, 2010 12:54 PM

        I was impressed with the Russian Standard I was sent as a sample. It compares well to Ketel One (both grain vodkas) at a lower price.

        I said a few words about it in this post:

        If I were to buy another vodka, I would look at Karlsson's which is a potato vodka that is a single distillation. Has more flavor than a traditional vodka, so perhaps calling this a potato eau de vie instead of a vodka would be proper.

        1. jerryc123 RE: Mr. Dish Aug 14, 2010 08:58 PM

          Right now, I am using Sobieski. Its Polish, and made from rye.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jerryc123
            sockster RE: jerryc123 Aug 18, 2010 06:47 AM

            I actually agree with Sobieski. It's really well priced and tastes GREAT. For hi end vodka, I really like Belvedere.

            1. re: sockster
              foxpoet RE: sockster Jun 16, 2011 11:57 PM

              Oh yes, Sobieski. Much cheaper than Stolichnaya, but compares very favorably.

          2. c
            cacio e pepe RE: Mr. Dish Aug 15, 2010 10:58 PM

            Gin? I kid, I kid.

            I find that I don't drink much vodka anymore simply because it doesn't call to me as much as other spirits these days.

            Strangely, the best vodkas do end up with some flavor despite the fact that vodka is supposedly tasteless. Ideally, there is a *trace* amount of flavor from whatever mash was used and the quality of the water can make a difference. I'd be curious to know when the over-distilled, over-filtered vodka became the fad.

            That said, if you're looking for a very clean, near flavorless vodka then Tito's is a fine brand. It's under $20 a bottle.

            14 Replies
            1. re: cacio e pepe
              freq RE: cacio e pepe Sep 1, 2010 12:09 PM

              Everyone knows good vodka only comes in tall etched bottles with 8 color silkscreened artwork ;)

              Tito's is 20 bucks cause it's what's IN the bottle that counts!

              1. re: freq
                JMF RE: freq Sep 2, 2010 08:12 AM

                Riiiight, 10% corn vodka made at the distillery, with 90% neutral corn spirits bought from a rectifier. If there is as much as 10%.

                1. re: JMF
                  cacio e pepe RE: JMF Sep 2, 2010 11:49 AM

                  Where did you get this information? The only mention of it i could find was also from you in another Chowhound topic. Not calling you out as dishonest, just that I haven't heard anything about this elsewhere and you wrote a favorable review of Tito's on your website. I'm just curious about this kind of thing.

                  1. re: cacio e pepe
                    JMF RE: cacio e pepe Sep 2, 2010 03:31 PM

                    I'm the administrator for the artisanal distillers online discussion forum. I was told this by a former employee, and by several others who have worked or consulted there.

                    1. re: JMF
                      cacio e pepe RE: JMF Sep 2, 2010 04:23 PM

                      Hmm. Interesting.

                      1. re: JMF
                        JMF RE: JMF Sep 2, 2010 08:58 PM

                        I found that Robert Hess thinks the same. Here is a quote from his blog back in 2007 that I found. http://thespiritworld.net/2007/01/29/...

                        " I’ve heard from a couple of sources that Tito’s vodka is not totally pot-distilled, but instead he starts out with puchased neutral spirit, and then runs that through his pot still. I’ve been trying to find some actual evidence of this, but haven’t been able to yet, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt.

                        To make a clean tasting vodka, from a pot still takes a LOT of work, as well as a very well made still. Tito does admit that he built his still himself, without any diagrams, just looking at pictures of bootlegger stills, and without any previous training in distillation. So based on that I would tend to believe that he would have to be taking some shortcuts, and not starting from a fermented mash."

                        An important piece of information I learned as a distiller is that it is almost impossible to make a vodka that fits the legal definition of vodka in a pot still. You have to have a modern still with a certain amount of plates in it to rectify the spirit enough to meet the legal definition. I have a pot still, besides modern ones, and would never use the pot still to make a vodka.

                        I did some more research and finally called my friend Bill Owens of the American Distilling Institute, which I am a consultant too. It is basically the trade organization for artisanal distillers. I hate to not be positive I am right when I make a comment. He referred me to one of his old newsletters. http://www.distilling.com/newsletters...

                        To quote from the newsletter, "Beveridge (Tito's real name is Bert Butler Beveridge II) still makes his own stills and condensers. Like the other two Texas vodka makers, he starts out with a corn-based, neutral spirit purchased from an outside source."

                        1. re: JMF
                          StriperGuy RE: JMF Sep 3, 2010 06:47 AM

                          In many ways that is even WORSE then the Grey Goose crap.

                          Hi, I'm Tito I pretend to make an artisanal product and be a cool guy, but really I am just rebottling industrial hooch from ConAgra or ADM. Probably doesn't even run the pot still. Just let's the industrial ethanol sit in their for 5 minutes and calls it a day.

                          But hey, it's vodka people. Colorless flavorless liquid. Go get a nice glass of Barrilito 3 star rum and enjoy some real booze.

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            joonjoon RE: StriperGuy Sep 3, 2010 08:23 AM

                            Now that you mention it StriperGuy, I find this whole thread somewhat amusing, as, like you said, at the end of the day we're discussing Vodka - the H2O of spirits.

                            1. re: joonjoon
                              cacio e pepe RE: joonjoon Sep 3, 2010 01:04 PM

                              Right! I was trying to think of the last time I had vodka in a drink, and with the exception of a recent Vesper made with Cocchi Americano substituted for the Lillet and some intermittent tastings, I think it's measured in years.

                              But I have found that vodka gets people's hackles up more than other spirits. To twist a quote all out of whack:

                              Vodka politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small

                    2. re: JMF
                      StriperGuy RE: JMF Sep 2, 2010 03:59 PM

                      Yeah, cause honestly, even Tito's has the certain, indescribably MARKETING vibe.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        cacio e pepe RE: StriperGuy Sep 2, 2010 04:21 PM

                        It's still good and it's still cheap, but this info does take the shine off of what I thought was a perfectly reasonable vodka.

                        1. re: cacio e pepe
                          JMF RE: cacio e pepe Sep 2, 2010 08:40 PM

                          98% of vodka is made from watered down neutral spirits. When this is done the label says "bottled at" or "produced and bottled at' and the name of the distillery.

                          And 50% of "artisanal" vodka is made from watered down neutral spirit that is then thrown back into the still and redistilled. When this is done it is legal to say "distilled and bottled at" name of distillery.

                          1. re: JMF
                            cacio e pepe RE: JMF Sep 2, 2010 10:03 PM

                            Fascinating! Thanks for the detailed follow up. Good stuff.

                    3. re: freq
                      ibstatguy RE: freq Sep 4, 2010 03:26 PM

                      I'll give a vote to Tito's as well

                  2. j
                    joonjoon RE: Mr. Dish Aug 17, 2010 12:20 PM

                    I found Svedka to have the best bang for buck ratio.

                    1. r
                      Rick RE: Mr. Dish Aug 17, 2010 06:53 PM

                      I really like Tito's. It's $20 for 750 ml, but they have it here in the state store (PA) for just $30 for the 1.75L bottle. It's American made too which is a nice bonus. I've read plenty of post on here pretty much claiming all vodka is vodka especially if you're mixing. We've tried four or five brands and for us, Grey Goose is the smoothest, Tito's is almost as smooth and a way better value.

                      22 Replies
                      1. re: Rick
                        joonjoon RE: Rick Aug 17, 2010 07:46 PM

                        Was your taste test blind? We tried a Grey Goose vs. Stoli vs. Ketel One taste test one and GG was on the bottom of everyone's rankings.

                        1. re: joonjoon
                          Rick RE: joonjoon Aug 18, 2010 08:56 AM

                          No, I don't sit down and do blind taste tests of my vodka . . .

                          1. re: Rick
                            StriperGuy RE: Rick Aug 18, 2010 10:39 AM

                            I believe that Joonjoon's point is you should. Bottling, preconceptions, marketing all effect how your perceive something which is generally pretty similar like vodka. Might be very eye opening to taste your fav 5 blind and see if you can even tell them apart.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              joonjoon RE: StriperGuy Aug 18, 2010 01:54 PM

                              Amen. Taste tests should always be done blind for this reason, especially with spirits like Vodka.

                              1. re: joonjoon
                                Rick RE: joonjoon Aug 19, 2010 09:36 AM

                                Maybe I should re phrase to say I don't care enough to sit down and do blind taste tests of my vodka.

                                1. re: Rick
                                  ac106 RE: Rick Aug 20, 2010 12:23 PM

                                  Your loss then. I have done multiple blind test tests with friends. Not because I am a vodka geek or super anal but it's fun. Grey Goose never won. Or even came close. It consistenly scored poor on numerous occasions with different people. It really isn't very good.

                                  1. re: ac106
                                    joonjoon RE: ac106 Aug 20, 2010 01:10 PM

                                    Yup, it's a fun exercise, and it's really amusing when people find out that some fancy vodka they thought was awesome turns out to be...well not so good. And always a pleasant surprise when you have a cheap vodka that tastes as good as the premium ones. I was personally shocked at how terrible GG was in comparison to Stoli and Ketel One.

                                    1. re: joonjoon
                                      cacio e pepe RE: joonjoon Aug 20, 2010 06:37 PM

                                      I agree GG is horrible. I disagree that a blind taste test is needed. It's actually that bad.

                                      1. re: cacio e pepe
                                        joonjoon RE: cacio e pepe Aug 30, 2010 12:56 PM

                                        Perfect illustration of why taste tests need to be blind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq6d7J...

                                        1. re: joonjoon
                                          StriperGuy RE: joonjoon Aug 30, 2010 01:48 PM

                                          That video is AMAZING. Thank you.

                                          1. re: joonjoon
                                            cacio e pepe RE: joonjoon Aug 30, 2010 05:02 PM

                                            I think you missed the joke re: Grey Goose. ;)

                                            I'm not against blind taste tests. At a minimum they are fun and I've done a number of them. However, they are pretty complicated and done wrong they dumb down the context to the point of severely limiting the conclusions that can be drawn. Eg: tasting a few sips of several vodkas straight as opposed to drinking a full serving of a couple of vodkas in a specific drink. One of those tests is useful, the other a pointless exercise.

                                            That's actually why I don't do them as often. A lot of work to draw a very narrow band of conclusions.

                                            And the fact that if looking at a pretty label helps me enjoy my drink even a little more, then fantastic. I no longer want to deprive myself of that trick of my subconscious!

                                            1. re: cacio e pepe
                                              StriperGuy RE: cacio e pepe Aug 30, 2010 05:41 PM


                                              1. re: cacio e pepe
                                                joonjoon RE: cacio e pepe Aug 31, 2010 07:03 AM

                                                Sorry for the misunderstanding cacio - I didn't mean that reply to be directed specifically to you. I actually found your GG comment really funny. :)

                                                1. re: joonjoon
                                                  cacio e pepe RE: joonjoon Sep 1, 2010 10:31 AM

                                                  Ah! I'm with it now.

                                      2. re: Rick
                                        JMF RE: Rick Aug 30, 2010 11:43 PM

                                        Yes, because you are media driven and don't really care what you drink. tito's is... not what they say they are. GG is a mediocre product with amazing marketing. i am a distiller. i know how these products are made, and the marketing.

                                        1. re: JMF
                                          cacio e pepe RE: JMF Aug 31, 2010 06:01 AM

                                          Can you explain the Tito's statement. I'm interested.

                                          1. re: JMF
                                            Rick RE: JMF Aug 31, 2010 11:19 AM

                                            I like Tito's and GG so therefore I'm media driven? If someone likes a Rolex watch, BMW, Coach purse etc, they too are just buying media driven crap? I don't recall ever seeing Tito's in the media either, at least not here in PA.

                                            1. re: Rick
                                              StriperGuy RE: Rick Sep 1, 2010 12:24 AM

                                              "I like Tito's and GG so therefore I'm media driven? If someone likes a Rolex watch, BMW, Coach purse etc, they too are just buying media driven crap?"

                                              To a large extent, yes, and yes. Particularly the Grey Goose as it is essentially crap.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                Rick RE: StriperGuy Sep 2, 2010 08:44 AM

                                                Again, I've never seen Tito's marketed here in PA, yet I'm still media driven by it? Interesting.

                                                1. re: Rick
                                                  ac106 RE: Rick Sep 2, 2010 01:52 PM

                                                  No one is referring to TIto's Rick. They mean Grey Goose. GG is not a quality product, it is 100% marketing. Just read this please;


                                                  1. re: ac106
                                                    joonjoon RE: ac106 Sep 2, 2010 06:51 PM

                                                    Rick's obviously made up his mind on the GG thing...not much more you can say to someone who isn't willing to subject himself to a true taste test.

                                                    1. re: joonjoon
                                                      Rick RE: joonjoon Sep 3, 2010 09:43 AM

                                                      Yep, I like the GG. Very smooth in my opinion. Tito's is what I drink though.

                              2. JMF RE: plorelle Aug 30, 2010 11:45 PM

                                JMXO is a excellent vodka, and I hate Vodka. $ types of wheat used. Then well distilled, just a hint of flavor.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JMF
                                  sockster RE: JMF Aug 31, 2010 10:37 AM

                                  Who or what is JMXO??

                                  1. re: sockster
                                    ac106 RE: sockster Sep 1, 2010 03:42 AM

                                    Jean marc xo vodka

                                2. s
                                  saeyedoc RE: Mr. Dish Aug 30, 2010 01:00 PM

                                  Belvedere is my favorite

                                  1. k
                                    Ken H RE: Mr. Dish Aug 31, 2010 12:21 AM

                                    I've done the blind tests, a single sip with consideration, then pallet cleansing with water, and have also found some of the higher priced vodkas were not as good as their reputations.

                                    A friend who generally has good taste in liquor (we both like many of the same products) thinks Stoli Elit is the living end. I think it's very good, but can't swallow the price, pun intended.

                                    I used to keep Absolut in the cabinet as the house vodka, but as of late Sobieski is my vodka of choice; it's a great vodka and a great value.

                                    There used to be a place in Ann Arbor called Leopold Brothers, on Main between downtown and the Big House. They found some kind of loophole in the state law that allowed them to distill their own liquor and sell it for consumption on site and also packaged for take out. They had some of the best vodka I've ever had, Silver Tree. A few years ago, they had a disagreement with their landlord, and rather than relocate in Michigan, they packed up lock, stock, and barrel, and relocated to Denver. Here is their web site: http://www.leopoldbros.com/Welcome.html

                                    1. thew RE: Mr. Dish Aug 31, 2010 07:15 AM

                                      i like flavored vodka -

                                      vodka flavored with juniper, cucumber, and botanicals
                                      called hendrick's gin

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: thew
                                        kpaxonite RE: thew Sep 2, 2010 01:59 PM

                                        tanqueray is better

                                        1. re: kpaxonite
                                          thew RE: kpaxonite Sep 2, 2010 03:25 PM

                                          not to my taste.

                                          1. re: thew
                                            foxpoet RE: thew Jun 17, 2011 01:19 AM

                                            I gotta try me some Hendrick's... cucumber sounds very nice with juniper

                                      2. YAYME RE: Mr. Dish Sep 1, 2010 04:49 AM

                                        I want to try Hangar vodka but so far I'm sticking with Luksusowa because it's smootha nd cheap.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: YAYME
                                          vinosnob RE: YAYME Sep 2, 2010 10:53 AM

                                          +1 on Luksusowa.

                                          My favorite, although it's getting harder to find is Youri Dolgoruki. Beats the hell out of any of the so called "premium" (and overpriced) vodkas on the market.

                                        2. k
                                          kpaxonite RE: Mr. Dish Sep 2, 2010 01:56 PM


                                          1. nsenada RE: Mr. Dish Sep 2, 2010 02:02 PM

                                            I like Burnett's for mixing. And it's dirt cheap.

                                            1. invinotheresverde RE: Mr. Dish Sep 2, 2010 04:25 PM

                                              Who even drinks vodka nowadays, other than in a Caucasian every now and again?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                nsenada RE: invinotheresverde Sep 3, 2010 01:43 PM

                                                And for when you're out of dark rum and must forego a dark n' stormy in favor of Moscow Mules. I suppose you could add some molasses in for a quasi-dark n'stormy.

                                              2. Spiritchaser RE: Mr. Dish Sep 2, 2010 04:32 PM

                                                Stoli Elite is the most incredible vodka I have ever tasted BUT it would be a sin (a very costly one) to ever mix it so highly recommend for the sipping portion of your question.

                                                1. s
                                                  sekelmaan RE: Mr. Dish Sep 3, 2010 01:47 PM

                                                  My favorite vodka is Ketel One. I drink this one almost all the time in martinis. I find Grey Goose, Belvedere and Chopin too smooth. They are so smooth that they are nearly flavorless. Chopin is a potato vodka and has a very strange taste. Ketel is smooth, hand distilled a few times and still lets you know that you are drinking vodka, an excellent one.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: sekelmaan
                                                    hawkeyeui93 RE: sekelmaan Aug 10, 2011 09:42 PM

                                                    I think you're mistaken ... none of those are brands of gin used in a martini! LOL

                                                  2. z
                                                    zagatsreader RE: Mr. Dish Dec 25, 2010 12:36 AM

                                                    If you can't taste the difference in vodkas, you shouldn't pay a lot for them.

                                                    Foreign vodkas are not bound by US regs to taste like diluted lab ethanol.

                                                    Unflavored vodka can have wonderful flavor. Ketel One and Sobieski are wheat and rye gems. Sobieski is mispriced at $10; it should be $30. Jewel of Russia has a buttery mouthfeel.

                                                    At the top of the vodka heap are Jean Marc XO -- like liquid pastry -- and Stoli Elit. Close behind in flavor but way cheaper is Vox. Somehow, the Dutch are on to something in vodka craftsmanship.

                                                    None of these vodkas would be mistaken for Smirnoff, except possibly at dawn after an all-night vodka marathon.

                                                    1. Gustavo Glenmorangie RE: Mr. Dish Dec 25, 2010 10:11 AM


                                                      1. s
                                                        Steve_K RE: Mr. Dish Dec 27, 2010 01:54 AM

                                                        Interesting thread. I have no interest in vodka whatsoever, however working in the restaurant trade it is evident that people have "their" brands. It's all marketing over substance and, at the end of the day, who actually tries them blind? People will drink what they are used to, or what they have been influenced toward by marketing.
                                                        I stock Stoli, Ketel One and Grey Goose (not because I want to, but for demand; this stuff is awful for the price. Kind of like the Cloudy Bay Sauv Blanc of the vodka world)

                                                        The only vodka I would ever buy for myself is Idol, and then only in single 50ml bottles. Never used in a mixed drink, only neat like a brandy. At the end of the day, vodka based cocktails are really just for people who don't like the taste of alcohol but still want to feel the effect.

                                                        1. e
                                                          Elispappy RE: Mr. Dish Jan 2, 2011 03:34 PM

                                                          For martinis and rocks: Tito's, Cold River, and/or Chopin.
                                                          For mixing w/tonic, Gimlets, Bloodies, etc: Svedka and/or Veil.

                                                          1. ginreviews RE: Mr. Dish Mar 23, 2011 06:14 PM

                                                            Sobieski Vodka,
                                                            A vodka that has won countless blind taste tests when paired off against vodka 3 times the price.
                                                            #1 selling premium polish vodka. A company Bruce Willis believed in so much, he bought 3% of the company. The best vodka for the world


                                                            www.ginreviews.com | Gin reviews Gin Ratings Gin Facts

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: ginreviews
                                                              ginreviews RE: ginreviews Apr 4, 2011 10:27 AM

                                                              It's tough to talk vodka when it tastes like hospital :)

                                                              1. re: ginreviews
                                                                foxpoet RE: ginreviews Jun 17, 2011 12:28 AM

                                                                I have to agree, Sobieski is very, very good. Especially for the price. What you are basically looking for is something that tastes like nothing. Unfortunately, human palates don't perceive 100% pure ethanol mixed with 100% pure distilled water as neutrally flavored. It tastes "stale" or "medicinal."

                                                                It's a very similar discussion to water. People spend tons of money on Fiji water and other fancy brands, but in blind taste tests, New York City TAP WATER nearly always wins!

                                                                Basically what I'm saying is, vodka is a VERY mildly flavored gin, just as gin is a more heavily flavored vodka.

                                                            Show Hidden Posts