How to Choose a good Vodka
Vodka is one of the most popular spirits in America. It isn’t true that all vodkas taste the same. Good vodka should have some kind of interesting and pleasurable flavor and odor. To prove it, pour yourself a shot of Snowaters alongside a shot of one of the cheap vodkas from the bottom shelf of a grocery store or liquor store. Take a few sips of the Snowaters first, then a sip of water, and then start sipping the bottom-shelf vodka. It’s guaranteed you’ll notice the difference! If you’re wondering how to select a good vodka when you’re browsing the shelves or web pages of seemingly endless choices of bottles, check out the tips below.
Seven Tips on How to Choose a good Vodka
What Is the Vodka Made From
Vodka can be made from many different things – potatoes, grains, sugar beet, and even black-eyed peas have been used. Potato vodkas tend to have a more earthy taste to them, while vegetable sources like sugar beet are generally rougher with a slightly medicinal taste.
Grains usually produce the smoothest and creamiest vodkas, depending on the quality of the original grain. Among grain vodkas, rye and wheat vodkas are generally considered superior. Snowaters uses the organic Dańkowskie Platinum Rye from a single estate in northern Poland, which is the most sought-after grain in the country. Organic rye is healthier and more nutrient rich. It gives Snowaters the flavor of floral bouquets.
What Is the Water Source
Vodka is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water. If you only name two things that are going to determine your vodka experience, they will be the grain and the water. Pure water makes the purest vodkas. Water has a significant effect on the overall character of the final distillate and contributes to texture and mouthfeel. Water also plays an important role in irrigating the crops which vodka is made from. Dańkowskie rye is grown in northern Poland where winters are cold and snowy. When the warmer spring weather arrives, the snows melt and provide a pure water source to nurture the rye till it reaches a state of absolute perfection. Snowaters vodka is made from melting winter snows and melting glacial lakes, the purest water nature can provide.
What Is the Country Origin
Traditionally vodka is famously from Poland and Russia and first made back in 8th or 9th centuries, although the origins of the liquor are a matter of debate [link to history blog]. The countries in Eastern and Northern Europe are the historic home of vodka. These countries have the highest vodka consumption in the world. Vodka was popular mainly in Poland, Russia and the Balkan states until soon after World War II, when consumption began to increase rapidly in the United States and Europe. If you purchase a vodka imported from Poland, Russia or Northern Europe in the United States, you’ll have better chance to get a good one.
What Does It Cost
The cost of vodka isn’t a 100% guarantee of the quality, but it’s a good guideline to work from. There are good inexpensive vodkas, like some of the Kirkland vodkas sold at Costco. They’ve even beaten more expensive vodkas like Grey Goose in blind tastings.
At the other end of the range, just because a vodka is super-expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily super-quality. Some brands use marketing gimmicks, like elaborately-shaped bottles, which are expensive to produce and add considerably to the cost. Some brands simply over-price their vodka in the hope that buyers will assume it’s better quality. Then there are other marketing gimmicks like infusing vodka with caviar or gold leaf, which sends the cost sky-high but the vodka isn’t necessarily top-quality.
Read the Label
What you’re looking for when trying to choose the best vodka is a premium or super-premium vodka brand (Snowaters is in the super-premium vodka category) that has enough information on the label to enable you to make an informed choice.
How many times is it distilled? The number of distillations is a sign of quality up to a point, but ignore vodkas that claim to have been distilled ten or more times. After a few distillations you won’t make the vodka taste any better. Snowaters is distilled five or six times, until the distiller feels the taste has reached perfection. It’s judged by tasting it, not by counting the exact number of distillations.
What’s the Brand
While a name brand isn’t a guarantee of quality, it’s a good guide. The top brands didn’t get where they are by selling poor-quality vodkas. While investing money in marketing might persuade people to buy your vodka once, if the vodka isn’t good then they won’t return. This doesn’t mean that less familiar names aren’t producing excellent vodkas too, of course. Some of the best vodkas around are made in small batches, like Snowaters.
What Do You Want the Vodka For
While it’s true that the best vodkas make the best vodka cocktails, if you’re mainly going to be mixing the vodka with orange juice or cola you don’t need to choose the most expensive vodkas from the top shelf.
Again, as an experiment you should make your favorite vodka drink with a cheap vodka and with a premium or super-premium vodka like Snowaters. You will taste the difference, especially if using a good quality tonic as a mixer, but for day-to-day drinking, or if you have friends round, a mid-price vodka will be good enough. Save vodkas like Snowaters for sipping, for special occasions, or for sharing with your more discerning friends who know good vodka when they taste it.