Best Vodka 2017

Best Premium Imported Vodka - 2017

The Fifty Best Imported Vodka Tasting


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 20 imported vodkas with a panel of 12 judges. The vodkas were judged and scored separately. 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.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. 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.



Lithuanian Gold
100% grain. Gold filtered.

Nose: Bell pepper, floral, flour, bread, grains, roasted peanuts, peppery.
Palate: Cocoa, mocha, vanilla cream, powdered sugar, lemon-lime, floral, herbal, mouth-watering.
Finish: Cocoa powder, lemon, herbs, spicy, peppery, assertive, rich, silky.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

   Lithuanian Gold

Stalinskaya Blue
Distilled from premium quality wheat, filtered through charcoal made from birch wood and aromatic plants.

Nose: Vanilla, chocolate, creamy, dates, agave, sweet corn, sweet grains, potatoes, mint, peppery, light toast, mineral, wet stone, smooth.
Finish: Clotted cream, apple, floral, grain, dried herbs, spice, clean, smooth, silky, great.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

   Stalinskaya Blue Vodka

3 Kilos
Highest quality hand-selected European golden wheat. 5x distilled.

Nose: Citrus, pastry dough, peppermint, peppery, wood, soft, subtle.
Palate: Vanilla, cocoa, light citrus, mint, grassy herbs, light pepper, rye, mineral, wet stone, silky.
Finish: Anise, pepper, weight on finish, powerful yet elegant, rich, soft, silky, smooth, excellent.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

3 Kilos Vodka

High Stick
Distilled from 100% Canadian grain, pure mountain spring water. 4 times distilled, carbon filtered.

Nose: Sweet berry, attractive berry, melon, citrus, powdered sugar, cream, floral.
Palate: Lovely red berries, orange zest, floral, violets, cream, dough, leather, delicate, smooth.
Finish: Black pepper, clean, delicate, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

High Stick Vodka

Organic winter wheat & barley, handmade copper & gold still, distilled 34 times.

Nose: Lime, soft citrus, fresh fruit, bubblegum, potato and vegetable peelings, leather.
Palate: Fondant icing, sugarcane, bread, floral, lavender, grassy, vegetal, sharp pepper, fresh.
Finish: Silky vanilla, creamy, grainy, peppery, very soft, silky, pretty.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Purity Vodka

Distilled from grain, crystal-clear water which is specially infused with oxygen, silver and platinum filtration, distilled five times.
Palate: Vanilla fondant icing, powdered sugar, creamy, sweet agave, strong pepper, mineral, stone, smooth.
Finish: Light almond, strong pepper, clean, fresh, perfect on the rocks.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Ozone Vodka

Steinhart Organic
(Nova Scotia)
Distilled from Canadian maritime-grown winter wheat, Nova Scotian spring water. Certified organic.

Nose: Cranberry, sweet melon, grassy, light grain, dusty, wet stone, delicate.
Palate: Chocolate cream, creamy, powdered sugar, bitter lemon, pink peppercorn, coffee grounds, complex mineral.
Finish: Vanilla, soft and creamy, mellow.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Steinhart Organic Vodka


Stalinskaya Silver
Distilled from premium quality wheat, filtered through birch charcoal and silver ions.

Nose: Citrus, hay, straw, light cream, clean slate.
Palate: Caramel, cream, vanilla, cocoa, powdered sugar, syrup, honey, green apple, tropical fruit, creamy potatoes, grain, saline, mineral, clean.
Finish: Cream soda , grain, floral, wintergreen, menthol, peppery, clean, smooth, soft, light and happy, drink as is, nice, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Stalinskaya Silver Vodka

Select potato varieties, triple distilled.

Nose: Lemon, soft candy, herbal, dough, rye.
Palate: Vanilla, cream, citrus, cardamom, pepper, coffee, cigar box, strong mineral.
Finish: Spicy, zesty, rich.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Monopolowa Vodka

Arbikie – Highland Estate
Three varieties of potato, water filtered through the Angus hills, copper distilled.

Nose: Raspberry, cantaloupe, pineapple, coconut, cream, grain, rye, fennel, grassy, peppery, minerality.
Palate: Herbs, pepper, oak, cedar, mellow, complex.
Finish: Complex melon, dough, coffee, very peppery, very smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Arbikie Highland Estate Vodka

Van Gogh
Distilled from a blend of wheat sourced from Holland, Germany and France.

Nose: Lemon oil, anise, dough, fresh bread, grain, light cream.
Palate: Raspberry, red fruit, creamy, powdered sugar, nut, coffee, herbal, hot pepper, cigar box, mineral, velvety.
Finish: Raspberry custard, pastry dough, peppery, spicy, clean.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Van Gogh Vodka

White Tiger
Distilled from wheat & rye. Sikhote-Alin Mountain water. 40 feet of continuous filtration.

Nose: Rye, raw potato, fresh pine, subtle mint.
Palate: Toffee, sweet cream, powdered sugar, leafy dry maple, melon, dried violet, pepper, smooth.
Finish: Cocoa, chocolatey, spice, pepper.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

White Tiger Vodka

AVIV 613
Blend of wheat, barley, olives, figs, dates, grapes & pomegranates. Water sourced from Israel’s natural aquifers and the Sea of Galilee. 4x distilled.

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

AVIV 613 Vodka

VDKA 6100
(New Zealand)
Distilled from fresh whey, natural spring water from the North Island, triple distilled, filtered through carbon. Gluten free.

Nose: Lemon, grassy, anise, dough, mineral, soft, subtle.
Palate: Vanilla, cream, sweet unripe fruit, corn, potato skin, white pepper, sharp black licorice, viscous.
Finish: Velvety vanilla, lemon, coffee, pepper, spicy, soft.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

VDKA 6100

Distilled from grain.

Nose: Sweet candy, unripe fruit, anise, clean, wet stone, rye bite.
Palate: Sweet cream, coffee, mint, grass, verbena, light white pepper, lively pepper, clean, smooth.
Finish: Melon, mint, peppery burst at finish, nice.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Råvo Vodka

Diamond Girl
Distilled from Scandinavian six row barley, water from 600 ft. deep artesian aquifer, 5 times distilled, filtered 33 times.

Nose: Subtle citrus, creamy, rye, mossy, soft.
Palate: Melon, subtle honey, creamy, potato, white peppercorn, black peppercorn, complex mineral, clean, smooth.
Finish: White pepper, powdery, rich, creamy.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Diamond Girl Vodka

Stalinskaya Original
Distilled from premium quality wheat, charcoal filtration then filtered through coconut shell.

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, creamy, whipped cream, citrus, mint, earthy, clean, refreshing.
Palate: Caramel, honey, vanilla, cream, whipped cream, chocolate, potatoes, apple, citrus, dried grass, licorice, spice, pepper, woody, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, citrus, peppery, cold rocks, smoke, well-balanced, lively, smooth, lovely.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Stalinskaya Original Vodka


Premium grains. Artesian water from European acquifers. 5x distilled.

Nose: Vanilla, lime, citrus, floral, moss, camphor, almonds, spice, clean.
Palate: Nougat, buttery, vanilla, pear, figs, dates, dried berries, grains, potatoes, almonds, mineral, balanced, smooth, clean.
Finish: Honey, lemon peel, citrus, soft berries, white pepper, light bite, smooth, clean, easy.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Reyka Vodka

Distilled from grain, 7x distilled, charcoal filtered water from interglacial aquifer.

Nose: Vanilla, lime, citrus, floral, moss, camphor, almonds, spice, clean.
Palate: Nougat, buttery, vanilla, pear, figs, dates, dried berries, grains, potatoes, almonds, mineral, balanced, smooth, clean.
Finish: Honey, lemon peel, citrus, soft berries, white pepper, light bite, smooth, clean, easy.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Provincial Vodka

Wheat from the Champagne region in France, Icelandic water, carbon-filtered.

Nose: Citrus, fresh, clean.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, vanilla, honey, apple, berries, citrus, tropical, creamy potatoes, bittersweet grains, herbal, tarragon, peppermint, mint, tobacco, burnt wood, soft.
Finish: Lemon, citrus, pepper, cream, 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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Fifty Best > Spirits > Best Vodka 2017
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