PDA

View Full Version : Does Premium Vodka's Taste Live Up to Its Price Tag?



NeoTexan
05-24-2007, 17:51
Comments? Chuck?:cool:

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Story?id=3201973&page=1

Vange
05-24-2007, 19:45
I co-authored a vodka article awhile ago. Here is the link. I tasted them all slightly chilled neat.

http://orig.app.com/goodlife/Holiday2006/topshelf/topshelf.html

Jewel of Russia Ultra and Chopin were my 2 favs by far. Both had a creaminess to them that all the others lacked. Skyy90 was not very good. The Jean Marc XO had a really nice cinnamon taste to it.

cowdery
05-25-2007, 16:03
Famously, the New York Times conducted a tasting and Smirnoff won.

"Vodka tasting" seems almost an oxymoron to me, so it's hard to know where to start.

The ABC News test seemed well done. There are a million ways you could do such a thing. The result doesn't surprise me, just like all the tests that have been done proving Coke loyalists can't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi.

There's nothing wrong with people drinking vodka, if that's what you like. There is a difference between "bad" vodka and "good" vodka. "Bad" vodka has a very chemical flavor and odor, and costs under $10 for a 1.75 L. "Good" vodka smells and tastes like water and starts at $15-$20 a bottle for a 750 ml.

For all the stuff above that, there are taste differences and you might find one you like better than another, but the price differences have nothing to do with additional quality. They are about provenance, packaging and marketing.

When the actual product cost so little to make, you can spend a lot on all that other stuff and still have enough left over for obscene profits.

If anyone believes a $200 vodka is ten times better than a $20 vodka, they deserve to have their pocket picked.

ILLfarmboy
05-25-2007, 16:46
.... The result doesn't surprise me, just like all the tests that have been done proving Coke loyalists can't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi......
If anyone believes a $200 vodka is ten times better than a $20 vodka, they deserve to have their pocket picked.

Which tests are you referring to, Chuck. The "Pepsi challenge" paid for by Pepsi-cola, wherein subjects purportedly chose Pepsi as "tasting better" not necessarily indistinguishable. I assure you I can tell the difference. Many has been the time I have ordered Coke (fountain pop) and gotten Pepsi instead, because the establishment only carried Pepsi products, but failed to inform me.

As to the vodka I agree 100%. Super premium Vodka is as silly as "oxygen bars".

bigtoys
05-28-2007, 20:55
Saw the abc story on tv the other night. Loved the woman who hated the taste of her beloved Grey Goose. Makes sense given what vodka is.

I keep a lot of bourbons and scotches around, but am trying to pare down. Realized the other night that I like Knob better than Woodford, but will confirm it with a blind taste test, too.

Like to think that I can tell peaty Lagavulin from smoky Talisker. Harder to tell some of the other regional scotches apart, I think. Even there, I think there is diminishing returns for the 25 yr old and up single malts.

One of the most amusing stories I've seen is on Penn and Teller's BS show. They filled fancy water bottles from a garden hose and had a water sommelier sell people water for up to $$$ per bottle and they thought they could taste differences. They also compared NY city tap to bottled water and people liked the tap. You gotta see this story--it's great.

Barrel_Proof
05-28-2007, 21:20
Saw the abc story on tv the other night. Loved the woman who hated the taste of her beloved Grey Goose. Makes sense given what vodka is.

I keep a lot of bourbons and scotches around, but am trying to pare down. Realized the other night that I like Knob better than Woodford, but will confirm it with a blind taste test, too.

Like to think that I can tell peaty Lagavulin from smoky Talisker. Harder to tell some of the other regional scotches apart, I think. Even there, I think there is diminishing returns for the 25 yr old and up single malts.

One of the most amusing stories I've seen is on Penn and Teller's BS show. They filled fancy water bottles from a garden hose and had a water sommelier sell people water for up to $$$ per bottle and they thought they could taste differences. They also compared NY city tap to bottled water and people liked the tap. You gotta see this story--it's great.

It is no secret that NYC has great tap water. It is one of the city's defining qualities.

T47
05-28-2007, 21:21
Have you seen the Myth Busters episode where they try and run bottom shelf Vodka through a Britta filter to make it taste like a "top shelf" Vodka?
Jamie, Kari, and a guy named Anthony Dias Blue did a taste test. Mr. Blue is listed as a "vodka expert" he is the executive director of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
They took a bottom shelf Vodka and ran it through britta filters 1-2-3-4-5 and then 6 times. They also had a "Top Shelf" vodka. Mr. Blue did a taste test and was able to put the shots in correct order, from the Un-filtered bottom shelf up through the various levels and then the Top Shelf.
His conclusion was that the extra filtering improves a bottom shelf vodka, but does not make it a top shelf vodka. Maybe a little off track on this thread but I found it kind of interesting.
They said they did a test of the chemical composition of the unfiltered and filtered vodka's and there was no difference between them...even after the 6 extra filtrations.

TimmyBoston
05-29-2007, 20:51
IMO Premium Vodka is far better than the cheap swill. But with some Vodka prices rising above $60, I could never justify that amount however the better $20-$30 bottling are worth it, (if I were a vodka drinker) because the generic bottlings are no better than terpentine.

nickynick
05-30-2007, 05:32
I find this post very interesting. Because the vast majority of my friends are vodka drinker's. I can't tell the difference form kettle one, to grey goose, from whatever. Now there may be a little difference from say gordon's, but I would say its a huge difference. Most of my friends swear that kettle one is the greatest vodka ever. Myself, I don't see the reward in drinking something that tastes like nothing. I have however been able to sway at least one of my friends to at least think about drinking whiskey. I took him to a tasting and he is starting to see that there are many more flavor possibilities with whiskey. I gotten him to try and like some Bourbon, he likes some Scotch, and he likes almost all Irish whiskey I have shared with him. Maybe he is starting to see the light. But in this mix drink society we live in, young people(which I am) will probably keep drinking vodka. I try however to share some of my bourbon with those of my friends who are willing to try it. Most are pleasantly surprised.

jburlowski
06-05-2007, 16:48
In a word: no.

Gillman
06-05-2007, 17:44
Ketel One is very good though.

Gary

Pappy's Friend
06-05-2007, 20:12
I find both Ketel One and Chopin to be quite enjoyable (although not in the same league as bourbon!). I used to be a Ketel One on the rocks until I was forever changed in Louisville. I don't think I've had a vodka since I started drinking bourbon!

Martian
06-06-2007, 08:59
The vodka craze used to amuse me. Now I am getting irritated. I tire of waiters asking me if I want vodka or gin when I order a Martini. Vodka has only one useful purpose. A Bloody Mary. My answer is no.

chperry
06-09-2007, 19:26
I haven't much use for vodka. I drink Martinis with Gin (of course) and even mix my Bloody Mary with Gin! I like many spirits, but I am not sure where vodka fits in as it hasn't much flavor.

Keenan
06-09-2007, 19:39
Buffalo Trace now distills a vodka called Rain. It is made from organic white corn, and distilled seven times. I guess that is supposed to be a lot. It sells for around $20, and tastes like nothing. I also suppose that is good for a vodka.

sysrick
09-07-2007, 08:00
This interesting blog entry

http://www.seriouseats.com/required_eating/2007/09/fightin-words-on-vodka.html (http://www.seriouseats.com/required_eating/2007/09/fightin-words-on-vodka.html)

references two recent articles on this subject -- one in Advertising Age and the other in the Weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Here is a quote from the Advertising Age article:


Bacardi wishes to sell preposterously expensive ultra-mega-super-premium vodka to showoffs, wannabes and snobs. […] It's the hoariest gambit in the world: to flatter customers into imagining they are not conspicuous consumers but discriminating ones. That when they belly up to the bar calling for Grey Goose, they can tell the difference between it and Stoli and Absolut and the rail vodka, because they have rarified tastes that the mere hoi polloi could never understand. That they are, sniff, a cut above.

jburlowski
09-14-2007, 18:40
Buffalo Trace now distills a vodka called Rain. It is made from organic white corn, and distilled seven times. I guess that is supposed to be a lot. It sells for around $20, and tastes like nothing. I also suppose that is good for a vodka.

Vodka, by definition, is supposed to taste like nothing,

Phischy
09-14-2007, 23:52
Of all the Rums and Bourbons I like, I keep 1 brand of vodka: monopolowa. It's great, high quality and cheap b/c it has zero ad campaign. Won double gold medals and is good in vodka/7's. although I would like to get a bottle of Rain.

mgilbertva
09-15-2007, 09:03
When my brother and I did the BT tour, they let us try Rain. I'm one of those that doesn't see the point in drinking vodka, but I had to agree, it was good. Sweeter than a typical vodka, and more oily. Compliments of the corn, I suppose.

I've also had an opportunity to do a couple of blind vodka tastings: Goose, Kettel, Chopin, Stoli, and Absolut. I definitely noticed a difference, subtle though it may be, between the different brands and was able to rank them by preference. I preferred the Absolut. I think I placed Stoli second. Maybe that's because I used to drink those before I discovered a liquor that actually tastes good.

But overall, to me the exercise was something like trying to choose between different shades of off-white to paint a wall, and about as entertaining. Yeah, I can see the difference, and eventually I was able to pick one. But it's not something I want to do everyday.

jburlowski
09-15-2007, 13:12
What amazes me about the vodka wars is that most people drink vodka mixed with something else that makes any taste differences (real or imagined) a moot point.

An example: a few months back I was having a drink (Pappy 20, by the way) in the bar of a high-end hotel in the Midwest. A guy comes into the bar and asks if they have Brand X vodka. The bartender apologizes but says no, and proceeds to list the seven or eight top-shelf vodkas that they do have. The customer (becoming loud and indignant) is adamant... he has to have Brand X.

The bartender, going way above and beyond, calls around to the other bars and restaurants in the hotel and locates one that has Brand X. SHes leaves and goes and gets a bottle. Returning, she asks: "How would you like that sir?" "A cosmopolitan", is the reply.

HighTower
09-15-2007, 14:23
I was looking through the pages of a liquor store's website the other day, to see what bourbons they have.
They had a 'new' section I decided to check out and I stumbled across Bong Vodka. I bet this is one bottle in Holland that doesn't make the recycling bin!:slappin:
http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/dickheadofthemonth/bong_vodka.jpg

Scott

Joeluka
09-15-2007, 19:22
I was looking through the pages of a liquor store's website the other day, to see what bourbons they have.
They had a 'new' section I decided to check out and I stumbled across Bong Vodka. I bet this is one bottle in Holland that doesn't make the recycling bin!:slappin:
http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/dickheadofthemonth/bong_vodka.jpg

Scott

The bottle is made thicker where you would drill holes for the bowl post
and carb. The manufacturers do this intentionally so you can't make a real BONG out of it.

cowdery
09-17-2007, 16:56
Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but my first thought wasn't bong.

NeoTexan
09-17-2007, 17:16
Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but my first thought wasn't bong.
You were not alone.

Gillman
09-17-2007, 18:01
My wife picked up a bottle of Roth vodka recently in New York, this one (like the Ciroc brand) is made from grapes. She said there is buzz in New York about Roth vodka, anyone heard about it or tried it?

Gary

Gillman
09-21-2007, 11:20
Well, I tasted this recently and can say it is very good. It has a very soft, full taste, very neutral of course, yet somehow with the characteristic taste (whatever distinguishes it, dilution water, an additive like sugar, ethanol itself, etc.) of a fine vodka. I tried it at room temperature next to Moskovaya (spelling may not be 100% there!) and Ketel One and they were all noticeably different. Some seemed a little sharper (the Russian one did), some seemed fuller-bodied (Ketel One), but all were similar of course. I was interested that Roth is made from wine (grapes from California). There is no way I could tell that. With Ciroc earlier, a French vodka made from grapes, I thought I could tell, but with Roth it seems (in this respect) like any other very good vodka.

Vodka is one of those ineffable things people will always argue about I think and whose true (objective) merits can never really be pinned down no matter how one tries (blind tastings, chemical analyses, etc.). Some people will always prefer some to others and I don't think that is a completely subjective exercise but in practice it is hard to prove why one's preference is better. Not that I really have a preference but it is interesting I find to sample different ones side by side and they always seem somewhat different to me.

Gary

cowdery
09-28-2007, 00:41
To me, vodka has taken off into a very strange netherworld, an "Emperor's New Clothes" kind of place, where people compete over who can spend the most for a bottle of vodka, with no rationale for why it is multiple-times more expensive than Grey Goose, the one that started it all and which itself costs twice what a genuine premium vodka really needs to cost. How much will people pay for a bottle of neutral spirit?

But this one is made with glacial water.

But this one is filtered through gold dust.

But this one is made from only organic grain.

But this one is placed into low Earth orbit for six months.

But this one is distilled twenty-five times.

But this one is distilled thirty times.

After you've spent $100 for a bottle of vodka, you damn well better think it tastes five times better than a $20 vodka, and you damn well better not just say but believe that nothing else tastes right to you, you'd recognize its taste anywhere. People will adjust their perceptions to match their beliefs, not the other way around.

Gillman
09-28-2007, 00:50
It is hard to gainsay what is said and yet (and I say this as someone with no great knowledge of or regular interest in vodka) I think quality does reveal itself to those who know and use the product regularly, but not in strict proportion to be sure. Some people too (not me) may be particularly interested in the package and willing to pay for it.

Gary

Vange
09-28-2007, 07:24
Why pay $35 for a bottle of premium vodka when you can pay $200 for a VINTAGE premium vodka! Ugh.

Kauffman Vodka
http://thecellaronline.com/karuvo1l.html

Gillman
09-28-2007, 07:52
The only way to really tell is in blind tastings. I have done this a couple of times and generally the higher price vodkas have won out, but not in strict proportion to their price. When comparing (not blind) Moskovaya, Roth and one other (can't recall name now, maybe Finlandia), the flavours and mouth feel were noticeably different and I preferred the Roth (not sure what it costs). Regular price vodkas seem to have a "doctor's office" nose and taste that the better-price ones don't have.

My point is that many people get used to a certain taste and know it when they taste it (or not). I am reminded of a story in a biography of Keith Moon, the late drummer for The Who. He said he could tell the various brands of cognac then generally popular (Courvoisier VSOP, Remy Martin, etc.) even when mixed with ginger ale (a popular drink circa-1970, "brandy and ginger old boy!"). A doubting bartender set them up (5 or 6) and Keith Moon, probably not completely sober at the time too, picked them all to a "t".

I am trying to suggest that for some people, they do know what they like and can tell if they are being given something different. I believe this is true with an experienced vodka taster (which I am not), and believe too that generally the higher-price brands would trump the lesser, but beyond that cannot really say.

Gary

barturtle
09-28-2007, 10:10
Why pay $35 for a bottle of premium vodka when you can pay $200 for a VINTAGE premium vodka! Ugh.

Kauffman Vodka
http://thecellaronline.com/karuvo1l.html

Ah, that's for a liter though, so a 750ml worth is ONLY $150:lol:

ACDetroit
09-28-2007, 10:21
I don't understand the big argument. The majority of the people that want to tell you they can tell the good over bad vodka will walk up to the bar and order there Bellvidere and Cranberry, Diet Coke, Tonic etc.

I fell if you have your vodka with anything more than a glass or ice...your wasting your $$$ and you breath on the argument.

Not to argue with Gary's point because cognac's have a taste, on the other hand a good to great vodka should not.

I have tried the Stoli Elite on ice once and it is very smooth but how many $14 dollar drinks are you having at the bar for the evening. Not to mention $60 for a bottle.

I say Drink what you like! If your paying for it? and if you can expense it drink top shelf!

Gillman
09-28-2007, 10:38
I agree fully. Even when taken on the rocks the ability to tell differences with vodkas will be minimal (let alone in mixed drinks). I'm speaking only of neat sampling and even then, at having one. :)

True, cognacs have a taste but Moon (or so the story goes) was able to tell them one from the other in mixed drinks. In that state, they would have more the kind of similarity sampling vodka neat would...

Gary

Vange
09-28-2007, 11:12
I did a blind tasting when I wrote a vodka article. Stoli Elit did not fare well. It was hotter than many of the others included. My #1 was Jewel of Russia Ultra (yes, it was the most expensive). #2 was Chopin which is not very expensive. Skyy 90 who claims a multi-million high-tech technique was rubbing alcohol smell and taste. I did the taste test chilled and neat. It was the only way to derive a true rating and taste. The major differences when trying 10 vodkas side by side was smoothness, overall heat, a certain thickness in the mouth feel (Chopin had this), and some slight hints of an aroma/taste. Jean Marc XO actually had cinnamon notes. Some citrus notes existed in some as well although I dont remember which ones offhand. I even remember a touch of vanilla in the Chopinl. Now when I say cinnamon, citrus, vanilla they are very very slight. Nothing like the complexity of cognac, bourbon, smsw, rum, etc. When we say vanilla exists in a bourbon I do believe its a major presence. Since the vodka tasting I have had maybe 2 vodka cocktails. Its just not my cup of tea anymore. I am a "brown" liquor guy. Just my 2 cents.

Gillman
09-28-2007, 12:27
Put very well, thanks, I understand fully and you describe my own kind of experience perfectly.

Gary

Rughi
09-29-2007, 11:22
I did a blind tasting when I wrote a vodka article...The major differences when trying 10 vodkas side by side was smoothness, overall heat, a certain thickness in the mouth feel (Chopin had this), and some slight hints of an aroma/taste.

Vodka isn't my thing, which will be obvious from the question that I have:

In tasting these ...very subtly flavored... spirits does the quality of the ice and the thoroughness of the dishwasher's rinse cycle become as large a factor as the difference between the spirits themselves?

For instance, would tasting one brand of vodka on the rocks at 10 different bars give as much variation as tasting 10 different vodkas on the rocks at the same bar?

Roger

AVB
09-29-2007, 11:54
I have been to Russia and took some Gray Goose with me as a gift. It was not popular at all and nowhere near as good as a dozen brands I had there which aren't exported out of the country. I like Stoli for shots and Smirnoff for mixing but that is more habit then anything else.

Here is something I copied from the 'net a while back that you may find interesting.

Title and verbage from "Russian Blog"

Russians are renowned for drinking a lot of vodka staying sober. That’s not something to do with biological inheritance but with the way we drink. Russians believe that foreigners don’t know how to drink. They don’t eat while drinking. They mix cocktails. They sip vodka instead of taking shots. They drink vodka with highly carbonated sodas. In short, they do everything to get drunk from the minimum amount of alcohol. May be it has something to do with innate Western avidity or expensiveness of alcohol.

Russians, on the other hand, do everything to stay sober while drinking as much alcohol as possible. How do we do it? We try to neutralize alcohol as long as possible. I try to outline the basic principles of vodka drinking for uninitiated.
One hour before the party

1. Eat a couple of boiled potatoes.

2. Drinks one or two raw eggs.

3. Drink one or two table-spoons of olive oil. Sunflower oil will also do.

Thus it’s guaranteed that at the Russian party you will stay sober for at least one bottle of vodka. I’m not kidding. Raw eggs are the most important part of Russian pre-party preparations.
At the party

1. If you start drinking vodka – drink only vodka. No beer or wine. No water or juice. Carbonated drinks are taboo.

2. Drink vodka only in shots. Never sip.

3. Eat immediately after taking a shot. Russian zakuskis are often translated as appetizers. That’s not quite correct. Zakuskis are something you ‘zakusyvayesh’ with after taking a shot of vodka. They are very important to neutralize alcohol. That’s why they all contain two most important alcohol neutralizers – acid and salt. I recommend taking the following sequence:

- immediately after taking a shot – two slices of lemon;

- then some salted cucumbers, pickles, marinated tomatoes or caviar.

- then something with a lot of oil: herring (traditionally with cold boiled potatoes and onion), sardines, or shproty (small smoked sprats in olive oil);

- then traditional Russian salads, like Oliviye or Herring with boiled beet and mayonnaise. Almost all Russian salads come under heavy mayonnaise dressing. Remember – acid, salt, eggs and oil. Ukrainians and Southern Russians prefer smoked lard with garlic but it’s a zakuska for professionals.

4. Only three first vodka shots at a Russian party are ‘obligatory’ so to say. That means you have to take them if you want to show you’re a friendly person but not an unsociable person. After that you can ‘miss’ one or two shots. Just say, “Ya propuskayu” (Literally, I make it slip) and cover your glass with your palm. That doesn’t mean you can abstain from drinking till the end of the party. It means (excusing yourself that you’re a foreigner) can take one shot out of two your Russian guests take.

I think, some Russian party traditions need to be explained here. In Russia we party around a big table with bottles and zakuskis. We drink only when someone makes a toast and we drink all together. The person who makes a toast usually pours vodka to all glasses. Taking a bottle yourself and drinking vodka without others is a faux pas. Actually you (and all others) are ordered to drink after a toast. Everyone at the party is supposed to make a toast – being a foreigner is not an excuse. So be prepared – buy yourself a book on party toasts (there are a lot of them on sale in Russia) and learn some by heart.

5. Zakuskis part of the party take about an hour – or something like 200 grams (4 shots) of vodka. Then comes “goryacheye” (hot dishes). Even though zakuskis could be very filling – you should eat goryacheye if you want not be become drunk.

6. Actively participate in intellectual talks around the table. Mental activity is probably the best method to keep you excited but sober. Try, for example, to drink two pints of beer while reading a philosophical book and see the result.

7. At the end of the party come tea and cakes. Don’t miss it too. This way you show your hosts that you’re survived the party without dire consequences.

Now in the course of 4 or 5 hours you drunk a bottle of vodka (500 grams) and you’re only slightly tight.
After the party.

1. Keep a small bottle of beer in refrigerator. Wake up at about 5 in the morning, drink your beer and go back to bed. It prevents hang-over in the morning.

2. If the early morning beer didn’t help (it usually does), drink a glass of brine from the jar you kept you pickles in.

Many Russians recommend taking a shot of vodka in the morning to fights hang-over. Don’t do it. It helps only alcoholics. If you’re not, it will make things worse.

cowdery
09-29-2007, 13:26
The Russians are indeed a great and glorious people.

ILLfarmboy
09-29-2007, 14:58
I thought the part about food, specifically, raw eggs was interesting. Back in my single much heaver drinking days when everyone went to breakfast after the bars closed most of my friends would order omelets, pancakes and such. I would usualy order (ala carte) three to five eggs sunny side up with a double order of bacon and toast (gotta have something to sop up the runny egg yolks) And Ice tea or milk instead of coffee. Some times when I got home if I was still hungry I would eat a big 'Jethro Bodine' sized bowl of Ice cream just before crashing into bed.

Frodo
09-30-2007, 18:08
Gorgeous post ABV!!! Much indebted!

AVB
09-30-2007, 19:55
Glad you liked it. BTW, it's AVB :)


Gorgeous post ABV!!! Much indebted!

WsmataU
10-01-2007, 14:35
Ciroc is the best Vodka I've ever had although I don't really know how it can be considered vodka because it is made with grapes in France.:slappin:

ILLfarmboy
10-01-2007, 15:13
I don't think it would matter if it was made from fermented lawn clippings (laugh but we just might see vodka made from switch grass someday) so long as it was distilled out to very near the maximum ABV that fractional distillation is capable of producing and is therefore "tasteless". But then I'm of the opinion that to the extent one vodka is distinguishable from another its the water used to cut the proof that makes it different, or perhaps the different filtering processes used.

polyamnesia
10-24-2007, 20:51
i think the packaging is getting really silly. that's a big part of the "premium vodka" experience.

true, comparted to bourbon, vodka "taste" is more subtle. i mean, SUBTLE.:slappin:

i pretty much prefer, when taking shots, one of these three:
Finlandia. Tito's. Luksosowa.

o heck, and sometimes Stolichnya and Glacier (from canada!)

(all are under $20...right?)

but only when temps dip deep into the teens and windchill is about 10 below!

no "flavored" versions please...

gothbat
10-24-2007, 23:27
i think the packaging is getting really silly. that's a big part of the "premium vodka" experience.

Agreed. Since it's all the same to me I've been meaning for a while to pick up bottles of Ultimat Vodka for my vodka drinking friends when the occasion arises (it comes in a nice heavy decanter). Based on what I have tried, I'd simply give these gifts on the fact that they might recognize that I spent a few bucks on them and/or the fact that maybe the palette of the vodka drinker is far more advanced than that of those of us who drink spirits that are not created "as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color". In the case of former, latter, or neither I don't really care as long as they enjoy their gift; sometimes the more they enjoy it does amuse me though. :)