Thursday, April 8, 2010

VODKA TASTING...The "BEST" Vodka in a Blind Tasting...Guess what Vodka WON??? by Philip S. Kampe

Did you know that there is a company called 'THE FIFTY BEST" , founded by William Rosenberg, that is solely dedicated to judging the Best, shall we say, In the Catagory of Spirits.

I was fortunate to have been on the guestlist to judge the Best Vodka, a bi-annual event, in a blind tasting. For me, this was a new experience, as spirits are a new world compared to the numerous adventures we have all had in the Wine World.

Words to describe vodka are familiar to those of us who know the wine lingo, inside and out. Smooth, spicy, sweet, hints of vanilla, white peppercorn, etc., all prevail.

Did you know that there are over 300 'Premium Vodkas available in the U.S. marketplace?
According to William Rosenberg , the new vodkas are " Sexy, Mysterious and Complex". (Sounds like my wife!!!!)

Did you know that three Billion liters of Vodka are sold worldwide?

Historians and rumor believe Vodka was invented in Poland in 1405. Vodka was transported to Russia and named by the Russians. Vodka, in Russian, means " Little Water". The original use of vodka was to combat the cold and help relieve life's hardships. I guess you could say that is also true today.

Prior to 1950, vodka was rarely consumed outside of Russia. Today, Vodka is now the dominant worldwide white spirits leader.

The tasting took place at Cipriani's, 55 Wall Street, in New York. 25 Vodkas were presented in this blind tasting. Each Vodka was 80 proof, all Imports and without flavoring. The judges consisted of bartenders, vodka afiicionados, bar owners and a few wine and spirits journalists.

Vodka was served at slightly above room temperature, in seperate flights. After nine flights, we were given light food and ample time to rest before consuming the next eight flights. Same story, a little food and rest and then the final eight flights. Within two hours, we had consumed 25 different vodkas.

The 25 Vodkas were judged on a 1 to 5 point scoring system. Five was the best. The totals were added up to determine a winner. Tasting notes were necessary to accurately describe each Vodka we tasted. To determine how to taste Vodka correctly, Rosenberg went over a few simple rules:
1) For tasting purposes, Vodka should be served at 'room temperature'.
2) Smell or nose the Vodka by swirling it in the glass.
3) Take a small sip and roll it around your tongue.
4) Draw a little air over the vodka to release it's flavors. Swallow and evaluate it's finish. 'Pure' Vodka should have no bite and feel smooth and pleasing on your palate without an aftertaste or burn.

What I learned from the tasting:
1) Premium vodkas have a personality, similar to wine without oak.
2) Vodka is complex.
3) Multiple distillation or circulation does not enhance the nuances of Vodka's flavors.
4) Vodka can be made from wheat, potaotos, corn, grapes or rye, just to name a few sources.
5) Aging Vodka does not improve flavor.


There was a Thee Way Tie for Number ONE:
ABSOLUTE (Sweden $22) Wheat based
FINLANDIA (Finland $22) Barley based with fresh spring water
RUS Bogorodskaya (Russia $22) Grain based, spring water

2) REYKA (Iceland $28) Wheat based, glacial water filtered through lava rocks

3) CIROC (France $32) Grape based, five times distilled

4) FRIS (Denmark $24) Wheat based, spring water, freeze-distilled six times

BELVEDERE ( Poland $35) Gold rye based, artesian well water-four distillations
EFFEN (Holland $33) Grain based, filtered through peat, not charcoal

6) PEARL ( Canada $20) Winter wheat based, Canadian Rocky Mountain water

7) ULTIMAT ( Poland $45) Wheat, rye and potato based, artisan well water, six times distilled

8) AKVINTA ( Croatia $40) Wheat based, Quintuple distillation (Birch charcoal, marble, silver, platinum), mountain spring water

GREY GOOSE ( France $30) Winter wheat based, spring water purified through champagne limestone
ICEBERG (Canada $20) Sweet corn based
SOBIESKI (Poland $12) Rye based, spring water, 8 times distilled

42 BELOW (New Zealand $22) Wheat based, spring water, four distillations
JEWEL OF RUSSIA one liter (Russia $38) Wheat and Rye based, Quadruple distilled, 5 dtep filtaration
WHAITE DIAMOND (Latvia $22) Ryae and Wheat based, 5 times distilled, 14 step mountain crystals filtration

KETTLE ONE (Holland $26) Wheat based
ORZEL (Poland $46) Grain based, 6 times distilled, quartz filtered
U'LUVKA (Poland $57) Rye, barley and wheat based, 3 times distilled

LUKSUSOWA (Poland $17) Potato based, artisan well water, distilled 3 times
STOLICHNAYA (Russia $24) Wheat and Rye based, glacial water, double distillation

13) VOX (Holland $28) Wheat based, 5 times distilled

14) CHOPIN (Poland $43) Potato based, distilled 4 times

Many of these results will AMAZE you. The household names, often pricey, were much lower on the list than expected.

When drinking Premium Vodka, "It's all ON the PALATE"!!

For complete analysis of each vodka in this blind tasting, go to:


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xoxoxo said...

that's because americans have no idea how to taste vodka..these results are ridiculously embarrassing

Anonymous said...

Interesting results that I disagree with so have to ask who are the judges. Pearl beat Grey Goose, Kettle One and Below 42 I doubt it for I have done some blind taste test and Pearl was one of the more bitter ones. Some people need to have their taste buds examined.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, tasting 25 vodkas in a two hour period is pure nonsense. Just like smelling too many colognes, your palate has been wrecked by the fifth tasting, and by the 15th you may as well be handed rubbing alcohol. I would suggest breaking your tastings into sessions where you first pick the top five, next day taste those five again and see what you think. I ran the still for Tito's, and we tasted all the competitors constantly to see how we stacked up, but never more than two a day.

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