What Is Top Shelf Vodka
Absolut, Ketel One, Van Gogh, and Titos are just a few of the top-shelf vodka brands available on the market. Although they are premium, these brands are also reasonably priced. There is no denying that higher-quality vodkas will cost you a little more, but none of these vodkas is truly exceptional.
Spoiler Alert: Artificial Additives Are Extremely Common In Most Vodkas
Vodkas a neutral spirit. Thats why it mixes well with damn near everything: Soda. OJ. Ginger beer. Pickle brine . Red Bull. Choose your own adventure.
So why would it need chemical additives?
Its a big secret in spirit production that mass market vodkas including top-shelf brands contain additives to optimize taste and viscosity.
United States vodka laws permit producers to add up to 2.5% by volume of any additive thats generally deemed safe. Vodka makers include them as a way to formulate greater mouthfeel and smoothness.
If that sounds shady to you, we agree. Fact is, its a lot easier and a lot cheaper to manufacture vodka with taste-enhancer additives and sweeteners. Without these chemical additives, they dont think their vodka would be as palatable .
And since the U.S. government doesnt require vodka brands to disclose additives on labelling they have no incentive to change what theyre doing.
Add reverse osmosis water, which is 99.9% H2O.
Tattersall Distilling Small Batch Vodka
The organic corn that provides the base for this vodka is grown and harvested at the head distillers family farm in Rochester, Minn. This bottling is a great example of the character vodka can display. The nose mixes toasted grains and dried banana, giving a profile of freshly baked banana bread. The palate is full-bodied and velvety. Average price: $27.
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Best For Collins: Ketel One Cucumber & Mint
Made with natural cucumber and mint essences , this Ketel One expression is crisp, lively, and at just 60 proof, it’s “smooth and friendly,” says Borisov. In other words, its the perfect spirit for summer, especially if youre looking for lightness and garden-fresh flavor. “One of the easiest ways to use this bottle is in a Collins-type cocktail that includes vodka, simple syrup , a touch of lemon juice and soda water. Its refreshing and easy,” he says.
Family-owned distillery Hanson of Sonoma makes “some beautiful, honest flavors,” says Abou-Ganim. “The Habanero is delicious and savory.” Made in Sonoma County, this vodka is infused with locally sourced, organic chileshabaneros and seven other varietiesfor a spicy spirit with a bit of lemongrass on the finish. Its excellent in a Bloody Mary, where it augments both the fruitiness of the tomato juice and the heat of the Tabasco and horseradish. If you add a shot of beef broth to the cocktail, it also makes a “gorgeous” Bloody Bull, according to Abou-Ganim.
Charbay Blood Orange Vodka
A quality American vodka thats infused with 100% organically grown real blood oranges from California, this is an interesting choice for writing about smoothest flavor vodkas. Ive chosen Charbay Blood Orange Vodka in this list because it offers something different to the bite of other citrus vodkas or the neutral flavors of standard vodkas, including the Charbay Clear Vodka product.
Charbay Distillery offers a range vodka, tequilas and artisanal spirits however, this vodka tastes brilliantly smooth and sweet, but without overpowering the palate. Using real blood oranges works in the infusion, as it layers with some complexity and a sense of natural flavor other drinks cant muster and makes a refreshing tropical taste.
If youre a mixologist with the flair for exotic cocktailing, utilizing an expression such as Charbay Blood Orange makes cocktails really standout through the balance of alcohol and fruit, but also suits being thrown into a glass with crushed ice, a splash of soda and an orange wedge.
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Best Flavored: Square One Organic Cucumber Vodka
courtesy of Total Wine
Region: United States | ABV: 40% | Tasting notes: Fresh cucumber, Floral
Savory and sweet notes balance beautifully in this elegant bottle made with certified organic American rye. The silky, candied profile of a carefully distilled vodka meets the garden-fresh flavor of the hand-peeled cucumbers that infuse it for a sippable spirit thats a shoo-in for a lithe Bloody Mary but which also yields a dynamite vodka Gibson.
Diva Premium Vodka $1 Million
DIVA doesnt use gold in its vodka production, but it does involve precious stones for a truly luxurious taste. This brand, a favourite amongst celebrities, is distilled multiple times to ensure a smooth flavour profile and comes with more precious stones stored inside the bottle. Once empty, the stones can be kept as a keepsake.
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Popular Vodka Brands Ranked From Worst To Best
When it comes time to stock any home bar, vodka is high on the list of must-haves. It’s great for a shocking number of cocktails, and it’s especially brilliant for those nights when you only have enough ingredients for a vodka-cranberry or a super-easy gimlet.
Vodka has been around for a long, long time. Explore Drinks says that it’s not clear if it’s Poland or Russia we have to thank for inventing this incredibly versatile spirit. Either way, we know it became incredibly popular by the 16th century and it only became more in demand from there. And while original vodka is nearly flavorless, the idea of flavored vodkas goes back almost as far as the spirit itself, as it wasn’t uncommon for upper-class hosts to have an entire selection of vodkas flavored with things like wormwood, cherry, birch bark, and St. John’s Wort.
Back then, much like it is today, the quality of vodka varied greatly. Now it runs from “paint thinner” all the way to “smooth, even on the rocks.” That said, let’s look at some of the most popular brands of vodka on the market today, and find out which ones you should keep at your own home bar for a sometimes treat … and which you should skip.
Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka
Produced in small batches from potatoes grown in Pennsylvania, Boyd & Blair potato vodkas come with a flavorful savor and an incredibly smooth finish. These high-quality spirits are perfectly straight with ice or mixed in cocktail recipes.
Barry Young, the brands master distiller, unlocked potatoes natural sweetness by adding champagne yeast through a 100% handcrafted method. Youll taste a creamy-sweet flavor, a sense of incredible smoothness without a harsh bite.
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Does Expensive Vodka Give Less Of A Hangover
But a study by the British Medical Journal found that vodka is actually the least likely drink to give you a hangover: its so pure that it contains virtually no congeners. Mixing vodka with soda or fruit juice is ideal, as sugary soft drinks can contribute to a headache the morning after the night before.
Best Top Shelf: Belvedere Vodka
Region: Poland | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, rye spice, pepper
Belvederes vodka is creamy and velvety with a hint of vanilla, designed for sipping in a or on the rocks. It’s made with 100 percent non-GMO Polska rye and Polish water sources. It contains no sugar and it’s great in a dry martini with Lillet blanc and garnished with pink grapefruit.
For a more upscale option, try the brands premium Diamond Dankowski Rye Vodka, made with rye from two different Polish terrains.
“Vodka originated somewhere in Northern or Eastern Europe and was consumed in Russia as early as the 14th century. The name takes its root from the word ‘voda,’ which in many Slavic languages means ‘water.’ So, the word “vodka” literally translates as ‘dear little water,'” describes Brian Olson, founder and owner of Café Intermezzo.
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The Lesson Less Is More And Quality Is Everything
In addition to our traditional vodka, our elderflower-flavored White Blossom Vodka has a floral, award-winning tasting profile. It achieves that flavor with all-natural flavors and without using corn syrup instead, we use pure beet sugar grown 60 miles from our distillery in Michigan.
Even better, White Blossom is one of the lowest-calorie flavored vodkas money can buy with 20% fewer calories and 7x fewer carbs than leading flavored vodkas.
Lets Talk About Ketel One
Ketel One is a super-smooth vodka without any ruffles. It is one of the cleanest vodkas you will ever try and an outright pleasure when chilled or served over ice. Youll see it best in simple recipes like the vodka martini and vodka tonic.
Ketel One Vodka was born in 1983 and has been accessible in America since 1984. A blend of present-day and conventional refining procedures, Ketel One is a unique item, both fresh to taste and delicate on finish.
Ketel One Flavors:
Ketel One is the brand that may help cause less severe hangovers. That is also one of the reasons for its popularity.
Ketel One Drink Recipes
- 1.5 oz. Ketel One Citroen Vodka
- 0.5 oz. soda water
- 10-12 mint leaves
Muddle your mint leaves in the bottom of the glass: Shake vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup with ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour into an ice-filled Highball glass top off with soda water. Garnish with a mint leaf.
2. Vodka Soda With Grapefruit Thyme
- 1.5 oz Ketel One Vodka
- 3 oz Club Soda
- 1-2 wedges of sliced grapefruit
- Sprig of thyme
- Use a collins glass with ice.
- Add grapefruit wedges.
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What Is The Lowest Calorie Vodka Brand
Its positioning as the first low-calorie vodka makes Voli Vodka different from other brands on the market. On average, it has 25 to 40 percent fewer calories than other vodkas. Its lower alcohol content makes Voli a good choice for reducing calories. Voli is a 60-70 proof vodka depending on the flavor, unlike most vodkas that are 80 proof.
The 10 Best Top Shelf Vodka Brands To Enjoy In 2021
Some drink connoisseurs feel that there is little need for top shelf vodka, based on the notion that the important thing with the alcohol is to make it crisp, clean and neutral only. While making the cleanest, crispest vodka with little flavor or aftertaste remains the goal for many cheap vodka brands, ultra-premium vodka expressions are different, both in the use of flavor and style of production.
The best vodka brands make sure that they are distilled multiple times and use the best water possible in filtering the distillate down from pure alcohol to its bottle ABV . Some even have their distillery located on artesian wells or near extra clean water sources for this reason .
They arent afraid to be innovative and creative with source materials and flavored vodka either. This list features vodka made from potato, honey, rice, rye, wheat, and even agave made to make tequila, which adds to the uniqueness of each bottles flavor.
The following list of top shelf vodka to enjoy in 2021 features a tremendous array of liquor from the worlds most famous producers and other independent distillers. Im sure that at least one of these expressions will make their way into your favorites collection.
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How To Choose A Good Vodka
It is difficult to give specific advice about finding a great vodka. But there are a few generalizations that hold true.
- Less expensive brands will generally be hotter and burn in the mouth. These are good for a tight budget or for cocktails with flavorful mixers like a bloody Mary.
- Stores stock the cheap stuff on the bottom. The premium vodkas are at eye level to grab your attention. The best bargains are found right in the middleusually about waist highand many of these vodkas will work in almost any mixed drink.
- In general, the more you spend, the better the vodka. Premium and super-premium brands are going to be good choices for sipping and lightly flavored drinks like the vodka martini.
- Just because you pay more, doesn’t guarantee you’ll like it. Some vodkas are pure hype and their popularity is a result of nothing more than great marketing.
If you really enjoy vodka, it may be best to stock two or three brands and use them in specific drinks.
Ology: How We Select Test And Rank The Best Vodkas
Vodka has kept its title as one of the most popular spirits in the world for many years, which means there are hundreds of different brands to choose from. However, while there are more brands to sample than we could ever reasonably sip, there are a handful that are known for being consistently excellent.
When we put together this guide of the best vodka brands, we looked at all of the new vodka brands that have joined the market in recent years as well as those that have kept their title of success for a longer period of time. We looked at the process used for distilling the spirit, the number of times each bottle was distilled as well as any unique factors included during this process.
We took into account the quality of the grain, potato or other base product used by each brand as well as its sustainability and whether or not the alcohol was produced locally. Then, we factored in the price of each bottle, its purpose and versatility, and its range of flavours and aromas.
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What Are The Different Types Of Vodka
There are three types of vodka on the market, and the main difference between the three simply boils down to whats been included during the infusion process or whats been added after the distillation process.
High-quality vodkas are 96.5 percent alcohol, while lower quality bottles are 95 percent. A bottle of plain vodka involves only two ingredients ethanol and water, at 60 percent and 40 percent respectively. Plain vodka is the most popular cocktail spirit in the world due to its lack of flavour and any strong aromas or tastes come from the distilling process rather than the spirit itself.
Infusing vodka with fruits or herbs lengthens the creation process by around three weeks. These vodkas have much stronger flavour profiles than plain vodka and can be found on the market in different colours with varying aromas. Its a similar process to whats done when producing gin and results in any number of different varieties.
The skys the limit when it comes to flavoured vodka a spirit thats ever-growing in popularity as brands and distilleries discover new combinations and exciting flavour profiles. Its possible to flavour vodka with almost anything, ranging from more traditional fruits to unique and creative offerings like salted caramel, bacon or chocolate.
Best Flavored: Hangar 1 Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka
Region: California | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, jasmine, apricot
Hangar 1 is the brainchild of St. George Spirits Lance Winters, who set out to create the first-ever flavored vodka line. He ended up making Hangar 1, a brand now known for its unusually flavored vodkas . Now a Proximo Spirits brand, each batch is made with a combination of pot-distilled Viognier grapes and column-distilled wheat in a repurposed aircraft hangar in San Francisco.
One of the best flavors of the bunch is Buddhas Hand, a quirky cousin of the lemon. While many flavored vodkas on the market are packed with sugary flavors, the purified lemon extracts from the fragrant citron combined with jasmine, basil, and apricots that will make you rethink flavored vodkas forever.
An amazingly simple vodka infusion would be to cut up some pineapple and let it soak for a few days. It will impart a very nice fruit tone that can be enjoyed neat, or mixed into a fun cocktail, recommends Dylan Alpaugh, general manager of Sophia’s Lounge.
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Best Overall: Absolut Citron
“I put a lot of stock in something thats established and credible and consistent,” says Abou-Ganim, “so if I had to have one flavored vodka, this is the benchmark.” Infused with lemon, lime, grapefruit and mandarin orange, this bottle is his go-to for perhaps the most famous flavored vodka drink: the Cosmopolitan. “Fresh lime, Ocean Spray cranberry, Cointreau, Absolut Citronwhen made well, its a delicious drink. And I have yet to come across a flavored vodka that makes a better one,” he says.
Ubrwka Bison Grass Vodka
If you want a sweet, mellow, tasting vodka, ubrówka Bison Grass is a very solid pick. Part of the Central European Distribution Corporation’s international family of spirits, ubrówka is a unique vodka with a special secret inside Bison grass. According to company information, each bottle of ubrówka has specially dried blades of bison grass from the Biaowiea forest infused during the distillation process. Evidently, this delectable grass is harvested from the wild by specialized “pickers,” making ubrówka Bison Grass vodka even more intriguing.
According to Eater, ubrówka’s distillers run fresh vodka through piles of sweet grass, letting it pick up all of the flavors before bottling. The bison grass lends a sweet, nutty flavor to the vodka that makes it the ideal tasting and sipping vodka. Thanks to this unique process, ubrówka Bison Grass vodka is slightly amber-hued and very distinct. However, the final touch of bison grass is more than just an extra ingredient. According to CEDC, bison grass is considered sacred by many people in Poland.
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