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all vodka is not the same

bigbusiness Oct 6, 2011 08:28 PM

Yes there is a slight difference in taste and smell with different vodkas, so slight nine out of ten people would never be able to pick the same vodka twice in a blind taste test. The main difference in vodka is the next day and there are only a few that have never given me a hangover (of course speaking if u drink in SOME KIND of modificaton), belvedere is one, sobieski is NOT one, in fact when I have had 6 or 7 shots of sobieski I have been extremely hungover whereas with gey goose not at all, svedka not so much, finlandia, absolute, and shakers wheat vodka is good too. There are several others, but you do get what you pay for, just as in any industry there are some brands that are over advertised and so overpriced, but the best are the best and grey goose is one among a few.

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  1. n
    ncyankee101 Oct 6, 2011 11:25 PM

    So don't drink 6-7 shots at one time, that's hardly moderation. (Or modification.) Or drink more water during/afterwards, I have never gotten hung over when properly hydrated.

    I was able to pick Smirnoff over Sobieski every time when I did a blind test a while back, it is more neutral. The Sobieski has a very mild but not unpleasant taste, and next to it the Smirnoff was like water.

    1. h
      hawkeyeui93 Oct 7, 2011 05:54 AM

      bigbusiness: I had this discussion with my neighbor who is from Russia. He thinks more multiple filtering/distillation is the key differences between vodkas and prefers Grey Goose over Stoli [which surprised me].

      Yankee: My guess is that you could tell the difference between Smirnoff and Sobieski largely due to the latter being made of rye. I would be impressed if you could tell the difference between Smirnoff and Svedka in a blind taste test.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hawkeyeui93
        ncyankee101 Oct 7, 2011 08:13 AM

        Yes I am aware of that, I said exactly the same thing in a thread here right after I did the test - but when I first tasted the Sobieski by itself, it seemed very neutral. Only when compared to the Smirnoff did I detect any taste. And it did win that taste test by the NY times against numerous high-end vodkas.

        1. re: ncyankee101
          hawkeyeui93 Oct 7, 2011 09:44 AM

          When I am forced to have vodka on hand, I buy Smirnoff Red Label or Svedka ....

      2. EvergreenDan Oct 7, 2011 07:04 AM

        Disclosure: I'm not a vodka expert.

        If you want flavor in your vodka and live in New York State, try Vintner's Vodka from Finger Lakes Distilling. It's made from grapes and has a pronounced grappa-like grape-based flavor, yet is very smooth. I *almost* bought a bottle.

        http://www.fingerlakesdistilling.com/index.php/our-products Scroll down some

        I have a friend who swears by Grey Goose because it doesn't give him a headache and others do. Not sure if its true or not. He doesn't drink vodka at my house. ;


        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        1. n
          nickls Oct 7, 2011 08:04 AM

          Sounds like a chef I met once who claimed to drink two bottles of wine a night and could tell the good ones by how he felt the next day.

          The idea that Grey Goose is fairly priced and not over-advertised seems a bit wacky considering it is a well known case of marketing over substance.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nickls
            bigbusiness Oct 7, 2011 08:31 AM

            Yes grey goose is slightly over priced due to marketing but it is still a great vodka none the less, the whole point of the post is that there is so much nonsense buzzing around about these cheap vodkas having a "good" taste, no human can be truely honest and say any straigh tvodka is has a pleasent taste, ie they would drink it if they didn't get any buzz or affect from the alcohol, there is a small difference between rye and wheat but the point is some vodka does not give u a hangover if u do choose to drink a pint in a night. Yes you do also have to drink water before bed but that is just common sense, you should drink a few cups of water before bed even if u don't consume alcohol

            1. re: bigbusiness
              ncyankee101 Oct 7, 2011 08:44 AM

              Sleep experts disagree strongly about drinking water right before bed.

              In this oft-quoted taste test Grey Goose scored near the bottom


              1. re: ncyankee101
                hawkeyeui93 Oct 7, 2011 09:42 AM

                Drinking water before I go to bed after a "hearty" drinking session has minimized hangovers for me for over twenty years to date ... It may not be good on the ole sleep cycle [in having to get up to urinate], but it sure seems to help counter the effects of dehydration.

                1. re: hawkeyeui93
                  ncyankee101 Oct 7, 2011 09:48 AM

                  Yes i agree with you there - I was disagreeing with BBs assertion that you should do that even if you haven't been drinking.

          2. s
            sushiman Oct 7, 2011 08:37 AM

            There is a new vodka on the market, distilled in Bethel, NY right across the road from where the Woodstock festival was held. Catskill Distillery is producing Peace Vodka. Triple distilled. It is simply amazing. The smoothest vodka you will ever have. No heat or throat burn from the alcohol.

            1. t
              taketheunder Oct 7, 2011 10:06 AM

              It is not my intent to derail this post, but the topic of blind testing brought back a pet peeve.
              I will accept that folks can certainly taste the differences between vodkas, whiskeys, and gins.
              My frustration is people who want for example, Crown Royal in a whiskey and coke.
              I have run into this at parties where I have both well type bottles and much more expensive brands. I will start on making a gin and tonic, and the person will want Grey Goose.
              I try not be cheap, but there is no way you can tell what whiskey was used in a coke and whiskey, or gin in a gin and tonic.

              4 Replies
              1. re: taketheunder
                hawkeyeui93 Oct 7, 2011 10:15 AM

                Save your empty expensive bottles and pour your cheaper well booze into them prior to the party and ultimately see if your proposition is true or not ....

                1. re: taketheunder
                  ncyankee101 Oct 7, 2011 10:23 AM

                  You will definitely notice the difference in a G+T made with a gin heavy on the juniper - such as Brokers - vs a light citrusy one, such as New Amsterdam.

                  I would never waste a good whiskey pouring it into coke (or a cheap one for that matter, really don't like coke), but I am pretty sure the strong flavor of Elijah Craig 12 yr or Knob Creek would hold up a lot better than Makers mark or Jim Beam.

                  1. re: taketheunder
                    nickls Oct 7, 2011 10:25 AM

                    I made a gin & tonic with Martin Miller's a couple days ago (trying to finish a bottle to make space in the liquor cabinet) and I could still distinctly taste the characteristic cucumber flavor of the gin.

                    Which is not to say that I think a G&T made with Hendrick's or Miller's is necessarily better than one made with Gordon's, but you can definitely taste the difference if you don't drown it in tonic. I use about 4 oz tonic to 2 oz gin.

                    1. re: taketheunder
                      EvergreenDan Oct 7, 2011 11:35 AM

                      I think you meant vodka/tonic.

                      I'm sort of with you on the Coke. If you're going to ruin a cocktail with Coke, you might as well put the cheapest possible whiskey in it. That said, I bet I can easily tell the difference between one made with Canadian Club and one made with Bulleit Rye. And I bet you can too.

                      A Gin and Tonic is a whole different thing, however. Gins are very broad in their flavor profiles. A Gin and Tonic with Tanqueray versus Hendricks will be two very different drinks.

                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community.

                    2. invinotheresverde Oct 7, 2011 11:16 AM

                      I bet tasting blind (or better, double-blind) would blow your theory out the window. Also, you should research distillation. 99.9% of the time it's the plates in the still that are counted, not actual, separate distillations.

                      Grey Goose almost always scores at the bottom when it's double-blind tasted by the pros.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: invinotheresverde
                        JMF Oct 8, 2011 05:12 AM

                        It's a really gray area about "times distilled." To make a vodka you need a hybrid or column still with a minimum of apx. 20 plates, depending upon the design of the plate. Some column stills have as many as 40. Some distillers call each plate a distillation. Some call each 3-4 group of plates a distillation. Some call a plate or group of 3-4 plates a "theoretical distillation." Some just make up a number like 3 times or 6 times distilled. An alembic/pot still without plates can't make a legal vodka, ie. originally distilled out to 190 proof / 95% abv. in a still without plates, no matter how many times you distill it. It just isn't possible, the highest you can get is possibly 90% abv. but then it isn't legally a vodka.

                        1. re: JMF
                          invinotheresverde Oct 8, 2011 06:09 AM

                          Thanks for a great, detailed explanation, like always, JMF.

                          1. re: JMF
                            EvergreenDan Oct 9, 2011 12:50 PM

                            I see an inconsistency, so some fact must be wrong, but I have no idea which one. You say vodka cannot be pot distilled. Finger Lakes Distilling makes a grape-based spirit which they call Vintner's Vodka (and very tasty at that -- more like grappa to me). Finger Lakes Distilling has only a pot still (I think).

                            I could easily have the pot still part wrong and they don't specifically say how it is distilled on their site.

                            I'm sorry that I didn't pick up a bottle when I was there. It would be nice to sip neat. I have no idea how it would be chilled.


                            www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                            1. re: EvergreenDan
                              hawkeyeui93 Oct 9, 2011 01:30 PM

                              Went on the website and looks like it is hard to get this product outside of NY State ....

                              1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                EvergreenDan Oct 9, 2011 01:36 PM

                                Yes, sorry, should have said that. Maybe could be shipped. Maybe I shouldn't have tempted you. My point was more about it's production and designation as a vodka.

                                1. re: EvergreenDan
                                  hawkeyeui93 Oct 9, 2011 01:44 PM

                                  I did read about their product line [especially the grape-based vodka and the distilling process] and it sounds awesome ... Unfortunately, I am in a liquor control state where it is allegedly illegal to have spirits shipped [Iowa]. I guess this is like when I tout the greatness of Templeton Rye to people outside of Iowa [and select spots in Chicago, NYC, and SF] that can purchase it without mail order.

                                  1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                    EvergreenDan Oct 9, 2011 01:58 PM

                                    We're off topic a bit, but I feel your pain. While many, many things are distributed in Massachusetts, if it isn't, it's illegal to have it shipped in from out of state. Who could possibly be served by preventing the importation of things otherwise not distributed within the state. It certainly would encourage distributors to pick up niche products!

                                    1. re: EvergreenDan
                                      hawkeyeui93 Oct 9, 2011 02:10 PM

                                      Dan: I'm good for steering off course at times, which comes in handy from time to time in my chosen career of professional BS Artist [aka "lawyer"].

                              2. re: EvergreenDan
                                zin1953 Oct 9, 2011 02:42 PM

                                A couple of thoughts . . .

                                The website describes

                                "At Finger Lakes Distilling, we distill fermented liquids in our hybrid pot-column still, concentrating the alcohol to spirit strength. By heating the fermented liquid (wine, whiskey mash, etc) with a steam jacket surrounding the pot, it begins to vaporize. Because alcohol has a lower boiling point (173 degrees) than water (212 degrees) the vapors that form have a higher concentration of alcohol. That is how we can take a liquid like wine with about 12% alcohol up to as high as 95%."

                                Secondly . . .

                                Title 27 CFR: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
                                § 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 §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° proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80° 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.


                                1. re: zin1953
                                  JMF Oct 10, 2011 05:30 AM

                                  There is actually a discussion going on the past 2-3 days on the artisanal distillers online discussion forum which I help admin. about vodka and are the new artisanal vodkas that are being made from grapes, grain, etc., and have some light flavor/character of the base showing through. The question is whether they are really vodka under the TTB classification. I say that as long as they fit the distinction about distilling up to 190 proof that they are. The whole neutral/tasteless thing is only in the past 150 years or so since the modern still was developed. Before that there were only pot stills and no matter how many times distilled, you still had some flavor to vodka.

                                  (By the way that must be an old copy of Title 27 CFR as there is no ATF anymore. The firearms part was shifted over to Homeland Security when that dept. was developed, and the alcohol and tobacco were made into the TTB, short for alcohol and tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.)

                                  1. re: JMF
                                    zin1953 Oct 10, 2011 08:39 AM

                                    It's actually a CURRENT reprint of the regs . . . the ATF reference is MINE, not copied from the regs, because for 95% of my career in the wine trade, I dealt with ATF (aka BATF). In other words, I still catch myself saying "ATF" out of force of habit.

                                    That said, there certainly IS still an ATF -- and both the ATF ***and*** the TTB are proof positive the Feds can't spell!

                                    The "ATF" is the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms AND Explosives." But there is no "E" in ATF -- let alone no alcohol or tobacco (see below), but in typical "turf war" fashion, I suppose, I guess they didn't want the "A" and the "T" to another Federal agency. See http://www.atf.gov/

                                    As for the TTB, it's formally the "Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau," but that would be the "ATTTB," and that isn't what they call it. It's simply the "TTB," because the ATF(E) kept the "A" and the "T". See http://www.ttb.gov/

                                    The TTB (like the ATF of old) remained with the Treasury Department. However, under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (which split the old ATF into the TTB and the *new* ATF), the *new* ATF -- the one that has nothing to do with regulating Alcohol and Tobacco -- is now part of the Justice Department.

                                    Of course, the other reason that ATF and TTB are simply the ATF and TTB is because it conforms to the TLA rule.


                                    P.S. Broadly defined, the Justice Department enforces laws, while the Treasury Department collects taxes. Thus, when the Homeland Security Act of 2002 split up the old agency, revenue collection was kept with Treasury, while law enforcement went to Justice. The only "A" and "T" the *new* ATF enforces is the "illegal trafficking" of alcohol and tobacco. Elliot Ness was an (old) ATF agent of the Treasury Department. Today, he's be a (new) ATF agent with the Justice Department. Anyone else have a headache?!?!?

                                    1. re: zin1953
                                      JMF Oct 10, 2011 11:28 AM


                                2. re: EvergreenDan
                                  JMF Oct 10, 2011 05:21 AM

                                  There is some confusion between pot stills and hybrid stills. many people call hybrid stills pot stills. A pot still, ie. alembic still, has no plates just a helmet/head and possibly/usually an empty column of some sort. A hybrid still has 3-4 or more plates in a short column on top of the head or to the side. To make vodka you need around 14-20+ plates in a column. This column can be on top of the still, or to the side.

                                  See this link for Finger Lakes Distillings still which has the helmet, a column, and a column with plates to the side. The portholes in the column are where the plates are. (As a side note: that is a very nice still set-up they have. Both a tall 'whiskey' column, and a vodka column on the side. With that still you can make anything.)


                            2. z
                              zin1953 Oct 7, 2011 02:37 PM

                              6-7 SHOTS?!?!?!?!

                              1. coll Oct 7, 2011 02:52 PM

                                I find potato vodkas to be the easiest to assimilate. Luksusowa for everyday, and LIV for special occasions. Hope that doesn't mean I have a gluten issue!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: coll
                                  JMF Oct 8, 2011 05:04 AM

                                  Gluten doesn't make it through the distillation process. All unflavored spirits are gluten free.

                                  1. re: JMF
                                    coll Oct 8, 2011 04:00 PM

                                    Good to know, thanks! I have friends that insist on potato vodka, I'll have to educate them. Not a problem for me, Stoly is actually my favorite but I'm counting my pennies lately.

                                2. JMF Oct 8, 2011 05:14 AM

                                  It is widely known in the industry that Grey Goose is a mediocre vodka. Sydney Frank was a marketing genius. Grey Goose costs about $3 a bottle to make, if that, including the bottle.

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