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Best Premium Imported Vodka

The Fifty Best Imported Vodka Tasting

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 11 imported vodkas with 17 members of The Fifty Best's spirits judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the vodkas were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no bronze medals awarded for this tasting. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The countries of origin are given, with a few tidbits added for each brand. All of these vodkas are 80 proof.

 



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Stalinskaya Silver
(Romania)
Distilled from quality wheat. Filtered through birch charcoal and silver ions.

Nose: Vanilla, soft cane, pastry dough, wheat, grain mashed potatoes, nutty, brazil nuts, anise, herbal, mint, mineral, wet slate, clean, crisp, delicate.
Palate: Whipped cream, creamy, cocoa, grain, pastry dough, melon, citrus, lime, cucumber, mixed greens, eucalyptus, grassy, herbal, mint, licorice, mossy, wet stone, mineral, delicate, silky, smooth, bright, vibrant, pleasant.
Finish: Powdered sugar, buttery, herbal, mineral, mild stone, very clean, delicate, soft, smooth, silky, rich, complex, lively, slight kick, assertive, easy drinking.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Stalinskaya Silver Vodka



Stalinskaya Classic
(Romania)
Distilled from grain. Filtered through charcoal and coconut shells.

Nose: Cotton candy, cocoa, slight coconut, light cucumber, raw potato, pastry dough, floral, eucalyptus, vegetal, citrus, grass, mossy, almond, mineral, stone, wet stone, dusty, clean, mellow.
Palate: Caramel, white chocolate fudge, milk chocolate, creamy, vanilla, floral, potato skin, cucumber, herbal, mint, cashew, almond oil, cardamom, black pepper, mineral, grain, nicely balanced, easy, soft, silky, smooth, delicate, vibrant, lively.
Finish: Cocoa, vanilla, creamy, honey syrup, floral, almond, coffee bean skin, spicy, peppery, earth, flavorful, silky texture, clean, crisp, rich, smooth through to the end, delicious.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Stalinskaya Classic Vodka



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Nemiroff
(Ukraine)
Distilled from grain. 11 stages of filtration.

Nose: Cotton candy, citrus, grains, potato skin, dandelion, floral, herbal, oregano, rosemary, white peppercorn, evergreen, light moss, mineral, stone, wet stones, delicate.
Palate: Vanilla, creamy, cane sugar, orange, lemon, citrus, juniper, floral, potato, grain, cashew nuts, mellow pepper, mossy, wet stones, mineral, cigar box, funky, delicate, clean, silky, crisp, lively, zesty.
Finish: Caramel, creamy, Twizzlers, rosewater, mint, citrus, white pepper, mineral, flavorful, rich, smooth, clean, crisp, pleasant, excellent, great for a martini.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Nemiroff Vodka



Blue Diamond
(Latvia)
Distilled from grain.

Nose: Vanilla, creamy, raw pie crust, grain, bread, lemon, myrtle, lavender, mint, licorice, black peppercorn, pepper, wet moss, wet stone, crisp, clean, delicate.
Palate: Caramel, buttery, vanilla-almond candies, cane sugar, vanilla, citrus, melon, grain, bread, rye, nutty, cashew, almond, mocha, intense spice, white pepper, peppery, mineral, musty, fresh, clean, vibrant, zesty, smooth, delicate, approachable, easy sipping.
Finish: Fig, sugarcane, creamy, almond oil, very peppery, rye, wet stone, balanced, delicate, soft, silky, smooth, clean, crisp, lively, complex, pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Blue Diamond Vodka



3 Kilos
Gold 999.9

(Holland)
Distilled from select Holland wheat. 5x distilled.

Nose: Grain, rye dough, wheat, pastry dough, cream, apple, citrus, herbal, grassy, almond oil, anise, wet stone, mineral, very soft, mild.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, buttery, creamy vanilla, light vanilla, grain, pastry, powdered sugar, sugar cube, honey, melon, floral, potato, white pepper, black pepper, spicy, wet stone, mineral, light, delicate.
Finish: Vanilla, cantaloupe, melon, floral, creamy, light nut oil, grainy, baked bread, light spice, tobacco, wet stone, clean, crisp, complex, pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



3 Kilos Vodka Gold



Stalinskaya Blue
(Romania)
Distilled from grain. Filtered through charcoal from birch wood and aromatic plants.

Nose: Milk chocolate fudge, light grain, subtle bread, rye bread, raw bread dough, melon, anise, herbal, soft grass, mossy, peppery, mineral, wet stone, earthy.
Palate: Vanilla candy, cocoa, cream, honey, cereal grains, country bread, rye, juniper, melon, floral, mint, herbal, grass, the woods after it rains, almond, white peppercorn, peppery, spicy, dusty, delicate, silky, complex, vibrant.
Finish: Vanilla, buttery, creamy, melon, grain, nutty, zesty eucalyptus, peppery, smooth, crisp, lively, assertive, sharp, intense.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Stalinskaya Blue Vodka



Lithuanian Unique
(Lithuania)
Distilled from Lithuanian grain. Filtered through charcoal and gold.

Nose: Soft peach, citrus, potato, menthol, mineral, very subtle, delicate.
Palate: Caramel, light cream, tropical fruit, peppery peach, nutty, dusty, rounded, extremely smooth, soft, mellow.
Finish: Creamy, tobacco, peppery, crisp, rich body, smooth, clean.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Lithuanian Unique Vodka



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

3 Kilos
Silver 999.9

(Holland)
Distilled from sugar beets. 5 column distillation.

Nose: Rye, unseeded rye bread, grain, pastry dough, potato, potato skin, light cream, melon, floral, herbal, fresh cut grass, anise, pepper, wet stone, mineral, dusty, elegant.
Palate: Vanilla, creamy, cocoa, pink lemonade, lime, citrus, herbal, juniper, grassy, mossy, minty, sweet grains, pastry dough, nutty, white pepper, peppery, wet straw, wet stone, stone, minerality, crisp, silky, delicate, pleasant, lively, mouth-watering, great for martinis.
Finish: Citrus, lime zest, herbal, rosemary, slight spice, mineral, balanced, clean, crisp, smooth, soft, delicate, gentle, approachable.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



3 Kilos Vodka Silver





White Oak Premium
(Holland)
Distilled from hand-selected wheat. 5x distilled.

Nose: Sweet cream, pastry dough, bread dough, grain, cocoa, nuts, dried hay, herbs, floral, grassy, running river, wet stone, mineral, crisp, delicate.
Palate: Vanilla cream, creamy, dark chocolate fudge, cocoa, powdered sugar, pastry dough, cereal, sweet grains, honeydew, mint, cashew, nutty, peppery, cigar box, wet stone, mineral, wood, funky notes, well-balanced, mild, smooth, delicate, lively, rich, complex, good sipping vodka.
Finish: Cream, pastry dough, cocoa, nutty, cashews, floral, light spearmint, pepper, wet stone, clean, crisp, intense, zesty.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



White Oak Premium Vodka





Monopolowa
(Austria)
Distilled from potatoes. Triple distilled.

Nose: Sliced pear, lemon, citrus, floral, grassy, mint, almonds, anise, cracked pepper, white peppercorn, wet stone, mineral, creamy, bright, straightforward.
Palate: Nougat, buttery, vanilla, pear, figs, dates, dried berries, grains, potatoes, almonds, mineral, balanced, smooth, clean.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, milky, citrus, herbal, spearmint, grainy, nutty, coffee, sesame oil, clean, crisp, intense, smooth, easy, pleasant.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Monopolowa Vodka





Helix
(Iceland/France)
Distilled from wheat from the Champagne region in France, Icelandic water, carbon-filtered.

Nose: Vanilla cream, vanilla, pastry dough, grains, bread, honeydew, melon, kiwi, tangerine, citrus, coconut water, cashew, almonds, fennel, grassy, herbal, mineral, mineral water, dusty, fresh-cut cedar.
Palate: Pineapple toffee, unripe papaya, cantaloupe, melon, kiwi, lime, citrus, grain, barley, bread dough, potato skin, straw, almond, almond oil, hot white pepper, black pepper, anise, grassy, herbal, mossy, minerals, intense.
Finish: Half and Half, powdered sugar, cocoa, nutty, nuts, coffee, rye, spice, black pepper, herbal, mossy, earthy, clean, flavorful, intense, assertive, zesty, silky with nice bite, very smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Helix Vodka

 

 



A Brief History of Vodka
The primitive production and consumption of vodka began roughly in the 13th and 14th centuries, when the method of distillation was practiced by medieval alchemists. There is much debate about which country invented vodka. Some say Poland, some Russia. There are even those that believe vodka was first brought to Russia by Genoese merchants, who swung by Moscow on their way to Lithuania in the late 14th Century.


By the 19th Century, distilleries producing vodka were found in many parts of Eastern and Northern Europe. But only the wealthy could afford it, so illegal homemade vodka production began to boom in the country towns and villages throughout Eastern Europe, and was consumed as a way to weather the cold and help folks to forget about life's hardships. Russians also love vodka for the same reason that the French love wine: it is a social drink that goes extremely well with food.

Prior to the 1950’s, vodka was rarely consumed outside of the USSR. American soldiers returning from Europe after WWII brought back vodka, and its popularity exploded.

Today's vodka
Vodka is a clear spirit, typically distilled from wheat, rye and barley malt, but can also be made from potatoes, corn or grapes, and sometimes blended. The fermented grain mash is distilled to a high proof, filtered and diluted with water. Vodka is never aged because aging does not improve the flavor, so distillation is limited to only a day or so. Since the aging process is eliminated, modern vodka producers have captured our imaginations through multiple distillations and exotic filtering processes such as volcanic rock, diamonds, precious metals, etc.

Vodka dominates the white spirits category accounting for 25% of worldwide spirits sales with over 53 million cases sold each year. Vodka is currently produced all over the world with over 300 imported brands available to consumers. The new vodkas have complex personalities, with a little mystery and a lot of sexy star power. Anyone who still believes that vodka is an odorless, tasteless, non-distinctive clear spirit, isn’t into ultra-premium vodkas. Serious drinkers are now interested in the vodka’s legacy (that is, its country origin and distillery history), and also its pedigree (such as water source, principal ingredients and filtration methods). While most vodka drinkers still prefer the spirit mixed in cocktails, true aficionados appreciate the virtues that set premium vodkas apart when consumed straight up at room temperature.

 

 

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