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That looks like good news to me. It helps to clarify the concept that it doesn't really matter what you make it from, it can still be vodka.
I thought you were in the anti-grape vodka camp. I like the way Ciroc tastes, but I don't think I'd call it vodka. Three Olives tastes like grape Kool-Aid.

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Nothing high end, I already had the bottle of Bombay Sapphire, and picked up a bottle of Gallo Sweet vermouth.

But if I enjoy these I may have to pick up some better brands.

 

 

Gallo Vermouth - best vermouth ever, imo. :yahoo:

 

Edit to add: For flavoured vodka fans I'd like to suggest UV flavoured vodkas. They have cherry, vanilla, apple, pink lemonade, blue raspberry, citrus, etc.

Edited by Amber von Doom

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I'm going to have to agree with Alan on the Jean Marc XO vodka reccomendation. It's rather expensive for a vodka but it has a rather complex taste that made me change my views of what a vodka could be. IMHO, it has quite a bit of a "almond" flavor to it, which I really like. It is by far my favorite vodka, although I don't think I'd ever mix it with anything other than ice.

 

I used to be really into trying different top shelf vodka's, until I found Gvori. Supposidly it is made in the Belvedere distillery, and IMHO is quite a bit better than Belvedere for less than half the price, and it easily rivals Grey Goose, Absolut and others, I've done a ton of side by side taste tests with different vodkas and preferred Gvori nearly every time. It's great by itself and in mixers, and it's about $20-25 for a 1.75L bottle.

 

I do enjoy a good flavored vodka over ice from time to time. The Van Gogh Pinapple is awesome. Most of the flavored Stoli's are quite nice on the rocks as well. I tried the Charbay blood orange vodka once, and it was one of the worst spirits I have ever tasted. Even a little splash mixed with anything had a horrible taste and really bad alcohol burn. The green tea flavor sounds rather interesting, but I'm kind of scared after trying the Blood Orange.

 

As for Gins I am a big fan of Junipero made at the Anchor Steam distillery. I've always liked Tangueray and their new Rangpur is awesome in a Gin and Tonic. Hendricks is quite tasty as well, but it is quite unique and IMHO, dosn't go well in all gin cocktails. I do enjoy some Bombay Saphire from time to time, but IMHO it is a little overpriced.

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Last week I tried UV 80 vodka for the first time and it was actually really good for the price. Usually I drink Grey Goose but I'd easily pick the UV 80 if I had less than $10 to spend on vodka. I don't really care for Absolut or Stoli.

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Someone gave me some Cristall vodka as a gift. I'm drinking it now. In my fairly limited experience with vodka this is the best I've had; very smooth and drinkable. But it's still nearly flavourless and utterly uninteresting. I guess I'm more interesting in flavour than mouth-feel.

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A year ago I'd have never believed it but since I've recently been exposed to many different alcohols, I'm starting to see what some of you mean about vodka being a bit boring and tasteless.

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But it's really good water.

Gallo Vermouth - best vermouth ever, imo. :yahoo:
Try Noilly Prat, both sweet and dry. And if you can find it, Ponti (pontica?)
Edit to add: For flavoured vodka fans I'd like to suggest UV flavoured vodkas. They have cherry, vanilla, apple, pink lemonade, blue raspberry, citrus, etc.
:puke: That's hardly vodka. It's just flavored alcohol. Get some everclear. Add Crystal Light. Bob's yer uncle.

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Yeah, folks paying over $30.00 for neutral alcohol and water are getting taken to the cleaners.

 

Ain't it the truth!

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I hit the ABC store today and found Cristall for $14.03.

 

Fuck if I'll ever feel the need to buy anything else.

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What with everclear running about $17 a liter, you could make 2.4L of 'vodka' for about $5.10 per 750mL.

 

Oops, Everclear is only 95% so make that 2.28L of vodka.

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I tried it for experiment's sake when someone on this site recommended it, about a year ago. There was a heated debate about whether vodka was actually tasteless.

 

It seems as though it was agreed that vodka, in theory, should be tasteless, but the flavor of the water it's diluted with comes through. Also, subtle flavors from whatever the vodka was distilled from also plays a part.

 

Regardless of what I diluted it with, everclear never tasted any better than the lowest of the bottom shelf brands, like banker's club or whatnot.

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Vodka isn't tasteless. [ edited to add: "But it sure is boring!":-> ] IMHO there are two aspects of the vodka production process that are playing a role with what a vodka "tastes" like.

 

As I always point out to folks at seminars I do, if they were to go to the store and purchase five different brands/types of bottled water and do a taste comparison between them, they will all taste slightly different. Likewise if they do a taste comparison between five different vodkas, they will notice a -very-similar- taste difference between them.

 

Also, the "quality" of the base spirit also comes into play. A distiller who is trying to cut corners and save money, will be less concerned about making sure they capture "just" the heart of the distillation, and so there will be some other gunk coming across as well, which I fully expect is the problem with an everclear+water.

 

So a cheap vodka will taste like a cheap vodka. But once you get into the "Smirnoff and above" category, the base spirits should all be of pretty good quality, and so the quality of the product will shift from the quality of the spirit, to the quality/choice of the water... and what sort of little "extra" things they feel that they can throw in to help tweak the flavor a little.

 

-Robert

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I will say that vodka's do (okay, CAN) add flavor. Well-done ones do at least. A good palette will taste vanilla in Belvedere easily. Grey Goose has rye, fruit, and citrus in it's background.

 

Ciroc- a class onto itself for taste and nose. I was made a believer recently, and will argue with anyone on this. Pour a chilled 2oz into a champagne flute (the best way to drink vodka), and nose it. Citrus, and lots of it. Almost a 'Sprite' note.

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Also, the "quality" of the base spirit also comes into play. A distiller who is trying to cut corners and save money, will be less concerned about making sure they capture "just" the heart of the distillation, and so there will be some other gunk coming across as well, which I fully expect is the problem with an everclear+water.

 

With everclear and water, it's the water added that either makes the flavor good, bad, or indifferent.

 

, and so the quality of the product will shift from the quality of the spirit, to the quality/choice of the water... and what sort of little "extra" things they feel that they can throw in to help tweak the flavor a little.

 

Exactly. But ask yourself, are those little "extra" things worth the extra price? No, but some folks just can't admit they were snookered by the marketing.

 

I will say that vodka's do (okay, CAN) add flavor. Well-done ones do at least. A good palette will taste vanilla in Belvedere easily. Grey Goose has rye, fruit, and citrus in it's background.

 

Yes, they may be there because they were added.

 

Ciroc- a class onto itself for taste and nose. I was made a believer recently, and will argue with anyone on this. Pour a chilled 2oz into a champagne flute (the best way to drink vodka), and nose it. Citrus, and lots of it. Almost a 'Sprite' note.

 

Again, flavoring was added. If you are tasting any grape, citrus, or anything else it is because it was added. There may be one, two, or a few artisanal vodkas that retain the some of the flavor of the base, but they are in the microscopic minority. Large producers (Belvedere, Ciroc, Grey Goose, etc.) distill to over 95% and then add water/flavorings to bring it down to 40%.

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Hey, I was raised on vodka. It was in the innocuous-looking orange juice in the fridge! It was the bottle I saw in the trash (or lying around on the bedroom floor) when I was a child. I stayed away from it for a loooooooooooong time, probably until about 6 or 7 years ago when I discovered that I liked it ice cold from the freezer, straight up. Maybe the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree? Well, in that case it would be Calvados.

 

To me, vodka is the punch in tasty drinks that sometimes come with an umbrella. And no, I don't drink to get drunk. I don't like the feeling of being out of control. I guess I just like the "flavor" or the bite, if you will, of pure alcohol.

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So Doc, I presume that a good artisan vodka would add those things to the ferment and the master distiller - by making the proper cuts of heads and tails during the different distillations - would be able to rectify the product to retain those flavors while producing a high-proof product at the level of trois-six.

 

 

Did I get that right? Or not?

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Not so much as "add" those things, but to let the natural flavors inherent within the base (wine, assorted grains, molasses, etc.) you start with come through. If you start with a good wine base, and distill (making proper cuts), you can come up with a fairly neutral alchohol that still retains some of the base flavor. For industrial vodkas, it is much cheaper and quicker to distill it to 96% and when you bring it down to saleable proof, add back some of the flavor (with the water) you are aiming for.

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Regardless, it's a pointless waste of money to buy a Super Duper Ultra Snazzy Pimped Out Premium vodka for mixed drinks.

 

Any truly appreciable nuances in flavor or texture are wasted as soon as you add anything that actually has flavor.

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I would think that if the nuances in flavor are enjoyable and only in top vodka, why not just throw a few herbs/fruits/bunnies or a small amount of their essence into cheaper vodka and get the same or stronger flavor for less the price.

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I guess the real issue is what most people do with vodka. They either (1) mix it in which case it is lost in the mixer, or (2) they shoot it or make jello shooters in which case they are just trying to get drunk and miss the whole flavor thing.

 

So, If you truly savor if for the nuances you are probably in a limited 1%.

 

 

I just had a sample of Grey Goose and it still seems pretty neutral to me. It has a slight spicey-ness with a slick mouthfeel and that is about all it does for me.

 

Frankly, I've had better moonshine.

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I was once chatting with a micro brewer, and was curious about his thoughts about the "commercial" brews (ie. budweiser, et. al). His response wasn't what I was expecting, but was insightful.

 

Frankly, I have to have a lot of respect for somebody who can brew a beer that is so flavorless. Flavors can be used to mask off flavors. So to make a beer with no flavor takes talent.

 

At the same level, I feel I have to have a certain amount of respect for a "flavorless" vodka. If it weren't for the fact that their marketing departments have brainwashed the general public to see vodka as the uber-spirit, I might even be able to bring myself to buy a bottle from time to time.

 

I rally against vodka as a form of overcompensation, and to try to get people to realize that the other spirits are far more interesting and useful.

 

-Robert

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