Friday, October 31, 2014

Beginner's Flight: Vodka

This is going to be a series of posts about how to start sampling different types of spirits if you are a beginner drinker. What's the difference between bourbon, scotch, and Irish whiskey. How is London dry gin different from American or Indian made gin? The best way to figure out what you like is to go out and try things. With so many options out there I thought it would be nice to give newbies a jumping off point into their world of spirits. I'm trying to find bottles that are available at nearly every liquor store or can be procured easily enough. Today, I'm talking about vodka. 

A lot of people think that vodka is just booze that's meant to be mixed and can't really be appreciated. I hope a little sampling of straight vodka can change their minds. These vodkas should be enjoyed neat if you want to really figure out the differences between them.

1. Grey Goose. 
This is a fairly new vodka to hit the shelves french made but has already made a big splash into the market. Grey goose uses an interesting recipe featuring French wheat fairly prominently and using water from the cognac. It has a very smooth almost floral citrus nature. This is a favorite for a great many vodka drinkers due to its light nature.

2. Ketel One. 
This vodka goes all the way back to a distillery in the Netherlands from 1691. Its current recipe is only about 30 years old, however. It again uses a European wheat. This one does have a bit more of a tingle to it than Grey Goose. I find that this feels a bit more authentic than the french made GG.

3. Chopin. 
This is actually a personal favorite vodka of mine. It is a polish made potato vodka. It has almost a creamy texture to it. Many people think all vodka is made from potatoes. Most really aren't; they are made from various grains from region to region. That oily nature does still leave a little burn in the back of the throat. The mouthfeel of this vodka is truly unique.

4. Smirnoff (red label). 
This is actually one of the oldest Russian vodkas in production today though in fairness it is now made all over, including the United Kingdom and the US. The price point is cheap and it is quite versatile in cocktails. Smirnoff is probably the highest distributed vodka in the US. That said, when drank straight against any more premium brand one can really see a difference in smoothness and flavor.

Special mentions to: Rain, Snow Leopard, Russian Standard, Tito's, Belvedere, Ciroc

I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.
- Ron "Tater Salad" White

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