Vodka is arguably the most popular distilled spirit known to man. It’s an undeniable classic across numerous Western cultures and is still used as the base of countless modern day cocktails. If you have had your fair share of vodka, then you probably know by now that not all vodka is created equal.
Some vodkas are akin to white whiskey. Like sipping heavenly syrup from a golden goblet, while others are like drinking pure ethanol out of a gasoline tank. The purpose of today’s article is to help differentiate what falls where. Taking a look at the important taste factors will help you pick out the best tasting vodka before ever trying it.
You are probably wondering what an “average” vodka tastes like, well the answer is simple, it’s neutral. It should be flavorless and colorless. It won’t have a distinct taste or intensity.
However, that doesn’t mean that it is entirely odorless, without an aftertaste. Variations exist across different brands. That said, a vodka’s taste-bud-appeal hinges upon the other parts that make up the beverage i.e. the kind of water used, the flavors incorporated, and purity of the vodka, etc.
The Mouthfeel Test
What better way is there to test vodka’s prowess than by trying it first hand?
In conducting the mouthfeel test, you’ll first need to address the heat of the liquor. This refers to the burning sensation you experience when the vodka gradually breaches the insides of your throat. This is a result of the viscosity in the vodka, as it penetrates down your esophagus, and into your stomach.
If that burning feels like a raging fire coursing unbearably through your esophagus, then it isn’t good vodka. The texture and feel of top-notch vodka ought to be clean, and smooth with just the right amount of potency, and very little burn.
Check the label
The number of distillations is what you’ll be looking for and the general rule of thumb here is the more the merrier. 4X – 5X distillation is definitely a go-to, however, some unscrupulous manufacturers tend to inflate that figure to boost sales, so be wary. All in all, multiple cycles at the distillery will result in unmatched smoothness, thorough & layered texture, and higher purity in the architecture.
You Get What You Pay For
It’s not always the case but almost 90% of the time, top-shelf at the liquor store implies top quality. If a certain brand of vodka is extremely low priced then its quality is probably low also. Generally, the more you pay, the higher the quality; just like pretty much everything else at the store.
Sometimes a brand name isn’t always the way to go
The vodka scene is like a minefield with multiple substandard varieties, however, there is a little island of hidden gems within this vast field of uncertainties. So do not ignore the little-known brands as they often aim to impress. They can fall into obscurity as they are suffocated by the more popular brands, but are often some of the best brands to drinks on the rocks. Explore and embrace such varieties, and you might stumble upon a keeper. Sure you’ll kiss a whole lot of frogs in the process but you might end up getting that one bottle that’ll make all your troubles worthwhile.
Flavored Vodka brands vs. Naturally Flavored Vodka
It’s pretty much the dealer’s choice when it comes to flavor as the diversity in taste numbers in the dozens. From blueberry or apple to honey or coconut, and potatoes among other countless flavors, the only rule is that the particular vodka you select should be based on your personal preference. It ought to tickle your fancy and bring a smile to you & your guests. Your taste buds are a reliable guide so listen to what they have to say and you can’t go wrong.
Artificially flavored vodkas are tasty but akin to processed foods. They are delicious, but there’s also a subtle layer of chemicals & artificial flavorings that will perturb the vodka connoisseur. Ultimately, tasting many brands of vodka in many flavor combinations is the best way to determine the best vodka.