Best Vodka 2016

Best Premium Imported Vodka - 2016

The Fifty Best Imported Vodka Tasting


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 25 imported vodkas with 14 pre-qualified 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 tasted through three flights of 7 vodkas and one flight of 4 vodkas.

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 for this highly competitive evaluation. 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, unless otherwise indicated.



elit by Stoli
Grain based. 3x distilled. Patented 'freeze-filtration' process.

Nose: Sweet vanilla, caramel, blood orange, fruity, toasty, wheat grain, wet stone, fresh laundry, clean, crisp, very subtle.
Palate: Toasted vanilla, vanilla egg cream, cocoa, buttery, creamy, fruity, blackberry notes, dried berries, hint of citrus, light spice, light mint, light grains, so clean, smooth, the world’s finest vodka, exceptional.
Finish: Honey, buttery, milky, flan, light citrus, peppery, tobacco, minerally, wet stone, smooth, nice, easy, super light, well crafted, great mouthfeel.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

   elit by Stoli Vodka

AVIV 613
Figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat and barley. Water sourced from the Sea of Galilee. Grains distilled 3 times, fruits distilled 3 times – blended and distilled 1 more time. 6 filtrations.

Nose: Marshmallow, chocolate, fruity banana, mint, mineral, crisp, intense, clean, very delicate.
Palate: Vanilla, Nilla wafers, citrus, lemon, fruity, light cream, creamy, pastry dough, almond oil, floral, licorice, anise, mint, white peppercorn, peppery.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, grapes, citrus, mint, black pepper, nutmeg, sweet, smooth, light, clean.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

   AVIV 613 Vodka

(Newfoundland, Canada)
100% Ontario sweet corn, pure harvested iceberg water. Triple distilled.

Nose: Citrus, lemon peel, melon, bread dough, biscuit, floral, grassy, mint, spearmint, soft, approachable.
Palate: Vanilla, powdered sugar, cocoa, grainy, pastry dough, dusty, powdery talc, dull citrus, floral, alluringly spicy, peppery, potato, coffee, mineral, silky, fresh, delicious.
Finish: Almond, minty, grassy, peppery, wine-like, clean, soft, silky, smooth, elegant, pretty.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Iceberg Vodka

(New Zealand)
Fresh seasonal whey sourced from the Bay of Plenty Region. Pure New Zealand water. Triple distilled, filtered through carbon "rockets". Gluten free.

Nose: Citrus, grain, dough, bread, light cocoa, rye, peppery, new wood, lively, slightly zesty, impressively neutral, very mild, delicate, pretty.
Palate: Toffee, creamy, sweet grains citrus, floral, potato skin, anise, mint, peppery, cigar box, hint of wet stone, mineral, clean, savory, balanced.
Finish: Nutty candy, creamy, buttery, pepper, anise, spicy, growing minerality, clean, balanced, rich, silky, smooth, very soft, mellow.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal


Blue Duck
(New Zealand)
Whey based, pure New Zealand water. 7x distilled.

Nose: Light vanilla, grain, mild grassy, very subtle.
Palate: Vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, cream, bread dough, pastry dough, wheat, sweet grains, citrus, floral, aggressively mossy, sweet mint, herbal, tarragon, spicy, jalapeno, peppery, wet stone, mineral.
Finish: Grapes, grassy, anise, mint, peppery, light pepper, clean, brash, very smooth, well-balanced, mellow.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Blue Duck Rare Vodka

Sobieski Estate Single Rye Vodka
100% locally grown golden Dankowski rye, pure Carpathian Fore Oligocene spring water. Continuous distillation.

Nose: Citrus, grassy, anise, mint, clotted cream, light cream, wood, mineral, lively, subtle, complex, very mild.
Palate: Vanilla, creamy, milky, powdered sugar, cocoa, citrus, melon, floral, sweet fennel, minty, spicy, peppery, mineral, approachable.
Finish: Butterscotch, cream, citrus, anise, grainy, mineral, smooth powder, rich, crisp, light, smooth, easy, mellow.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Sobieski Estate Single Rye Vodka

Winter wheat & barley, distilled 34x. Certified organic.

Nose: Vanilla, berry, grape, citrus, lemon peel, potato, nutty, mint, anise, cocoa beans, doughy, cereal, creamy.
Palate: Vanilla, melon, grape, floral, herbal, grassy, cashew, peppery, anise, licorice, wintergreen, mint, grainy, creamy, cocoa, dusty, crisp, complex, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, sweet melon, herbal, spicy, pepper, mineral, clean, very smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Purity Vodka


Khortytsa De Luxe
100% grain. Ancient artesian well water. Filtered through birch and alder-tree charcoal and quartz sand.

Nose: Vanilla, citrus, lemon, basil, anise, minty, menthol, eucalyptus, mild grassy, wheat grain, minerals, approachable.
Palate: Strawberry, orange peel, ginger, candy, creamy, fresh grain, coffee, floral, herbs, basil, anise, licorice, cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, white pepper, crisp, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, lemon peel, plum, cinnamon, rye, crisp, delicate, shockingly smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Khortytsa De Luxe Vodka

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

Nose: Lightly floral, vanilla bean, mineral, approachable.
Palate: Vanilla, grapefruit, melon, almond, cashews, cocoa, silky grains, mineral, floral, herbal, mint, anise, spicy, peppery, full-flavored, smooth, well-balanced.
Finish: Vanilla, corn, nice bite of grain, floral, spicy, smooth, easy, clean, balanced, fabulous.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

3 Kilos Vodka

100% locally grown golden Dankowski rye, pure Oligocene spring water. Continuous distillation.

Nose: Vanilla, creamy, pastry dough, grain, citrus, grass, pepper, white pepper, wet stone, clean, delicate.
Palate: Vanilla, powdered sugar, grain, wet dough, citrus, tangy, white peppercorn, peppery, wet stone, mineral, smooth creamy mouthfeel, well-balanced.
Finish: Creamy, cocoa, lemon, grassy, peppery, rye, clean, tangy, zesty, smooth, silky, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Sobieski Vodka

(The Netherlands)
European wheat, pure artesian water. Coal-filtered.

Nose: Floral, honey, light grain, lime, delicate.
Palate: Vanilla, caramel, powdered sugar, pastry dough, cocoa, creamy, whipped cream, passion fruit, tangy citrus, floral, herbal, anise, mint, grain, rye, nutty, pepper, spicy, crisp, zesty.
Finish: Creamy, cocoa, anise, mint, spicy, soft, smooth, silky, crisp, lively, tangy.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Medea Vodka

50 Bleu
Dankowskie golden winter rye, natural spring water.

Nose: Vanilla, new fresh grain, Wonder Bread, pastry dough, cookie dough, baked goods, citrus, lemon, grassy, dusty, approachable, clean, lively, slightly vibrant.
Palate: Powdered sugar, creamy, cookie dough, citrus, lemon peel, watermelon, floral, grassy, herbal, spicy, mint, nutty, cracked pepper, grain, potato skin, wet stone, slate, soft mouthfeel, tangy, very interesting, mellow.
Finish: Creamy, cream and sugar, peppery, peppercorn, anise, balanced, tangy, clean, crisp, smooth, pleasant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

50 Bleu Vodka

Potatoes, triple distilled.

Nose: Cotton candy, citrus, melon, floral, eucalyptus, grassy, spicy, anise, mint, dough, earthy, wet stone, intense.
Palate: Citrus, melon, grape, cocoa, creamy pastry dough, coffee, floral, herbal, mossy, black pepper, aggressive pepper, tangy, smooth, silky.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, chocolate, floral, grassy, white peppercorn, spicy, mineral, crisp, delicate, exceptionally smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Monopolowa Vodka

Blend of wheat, rye and potato. Artesian well water. Ceramic and candle filtration.

Nose: Vanilla, creamy, cocoa, bread, rye, anise, mineral, slightly assertive, approachable.
Palate: Vanilla, light cream, buttery, sweet condensed milk, honeydew, citrus, floral, almond, cashews, toast, licorice, moss, grassy, herbal, rye, spicy, peppery, soft, zesty, lively.
Finish: Butterscotch, cream, creamy milky, caramel, white pepper, peppercorn, peppery, mint, earthy, this can come home with me, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ultimat Vodka

Blue Diamond
Premium European grains, artesian water. 5x distilled.

Nose: Vanilla, lemon peel, mineral, light wood, crisp, zesty.
Palate: Vanilla, melon, citrus, almond, cashew, doughy, rye, potato, herbal, anise, minty, zesty, spicy, peppery, mineral, wet stone, smooth, well-balanced.
Finish: Citrus, floral, anise, minty, tangy, spicy, buttery, creamy mouthfeel, mineral, balanced, clean, rich, smooth, silky, mellow.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Blue Diamond Vodka

Belvedere Unfiltered
100% "Single Estate" Dankowskie Diamond Rye, artesian well water, 4 distillations, left unfiltered.

Nose: Citrus, orange, floral, basil, grainy, mineral, wet stone, assertive.
Palate: Vanilla, sweet whipped cream, almond, potato skins, herbal, moss, peppery.
Finish: Creamy, cocoa, floral, grassy, peppery, light pepper, stone, fresh, clean, crisp, lively, easy, smooth, balanced, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka

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

Nose: Melon, cherry, raspberry, nutty, rye bread, grain, cocoa, mineral, spicy, assertive, delicate.
Palate: Toffee, honey, confectioner’s sugar, cream, cherry, citrus, rye, potato, herbal, sweet, vibrant, zestful, smooth, mellow, balanced.
Finish: Cane sugar, vanilla, grass, lively, rich, silky, smooth, soft, mellow, delicate, gentle.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

White Diamond Vodka

Scottish malted barley and Scottish mountain water. Quintuple micro-distillation.

Nose: Butterscotch, vanilla, Juicy Fruit gum, bubble gum, alluring sugar, citrus, cantaloupe, honeydew, figs, dates, agave, almond, nuts.
Palate: Butterscotch, vanilla, bubble gum, strawberry, melon, cocoa, coconut water, dark dates, almond, anise, grain, potato. mossy, grass, mineral.
Finish: Vanilla, bananas, grapes, melon, citrus, cocoa, nutty, creamy, smooth, velvety, rich, come home with me, memorable.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

VALT Vodka

Belvedere Intense
"Single Estate" Dankowskie Diamond Rye, artesian well water, double filtered through charcoal, 4 distillations. 100 proof.

Nose: Citrus, soft berries, floral, herbs, grassy, lemongrass, mint, cream, nutty, potato, light sweet grains, mineral, crisp.
Palate: Citrus, strong herbal, menthol, mossy, grain, bread dough, dusty, spices, peppery, bold flavors.
Finish: Alluring grass, red pepper, mint, light spice, lively, clean, silky, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Belvedere Intense Vodka

Gold rye, artesian well water, 4 distillations.

Nose: Sweet citrus, lime, gravel, mineral, approachable.
Palate: Soft vanilla, powdered sugar, citrus, grass, mint, nutty, almond oil, herbal, spicy, tea, rye, grain, mossy, mineral, wet stone, cigar box, creamy, dusty, complex.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, spice, pepper, pleasingly sweet, balanced mineral, clean, crisp, very light, soft, smooth, rich.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Belvedere Vodka

(Great Britain)
Potatoes from Chase family farm in the UK.

Nose: Praline, caramel, vanilla, bubblegum, melon, honeydew, banana, orange zest, lemon, almond, coffee, soft.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, molasses, powdered sugar, vanilla, dessert, banana, agave, sweet potato, potato, grainy, silky floral, nutty, mocha, black pepper, mint, wet stone.
Finish: Lovely soft fruit, lemon peel, creamy, spicy, clean, easy, silky, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Chase Vodka


(Saskatchewan, Canada)
7x distilled. Charcoal filtered water from interglacial aquifer.

Nose: Vanilla, black cherry, lemon zest, mint, grain, classic, very subtle.
Palate: Vanilla, cocoa, cream, melon, citrus, lemon, lime, orange, bread, grain, nuts, delicate spice, peppery, menthol, mineral, assertive wet stone, complex, smooth, clean, silky, refreshing.
Finish: Citrus, coffee, mineral, black pepper, peppery, crisp, approachable, balanced, soft, silky, smooth.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Provincial Vodka

European wheat. Swedish Lake Boren water, so clean it requires no filtration.

Nose: Lemon, grass, spearmint, ozone, the smell before it rains, earthy,smoky, approachable.
Palate: Toffee, powdered sugar, citrus, green tropical fruit, grass, moss, herbal, tarragon, spices, peppery, stone, minerals.
Finish: Citrus, orange, grass, green olives, spice, white pepper, mineral, smooth, soft, crisp yet light, delicate.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Precis Vodka

100% locally grown rye, water from Belovezhskaya Pusha National Park. Platinum filtered.

Nose: Pastry dough, bread dough, grassy, wintergreen, earthy, leather, wet rock.
Palate: Vanilla, creamy, sweet grains, bread dough, citrus, smooth melon, almond, mint, black olives, spice, peppery, crisp, lively, smooth, silky, well balanced.
Finish: Raspberry, creamy, buttery, soft pepper, mineral, subtle, soft, smooth, clean, silky.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Platinka Vodka

Winter wheat and soft rye. Underground spring water. 6x distilled.

Nose: Creamy, herbal, grassy, licorice, rye, mossy, minerality, dusty, very subtle, complex.
Palate: Vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, cream, mocha, fruity, citrus, absinthe, herbal, grassy, spicy, peppery, black pepper, anise, mint, rye, wheat, smooth, assertive.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, grassy, peppery, hint of sweetness, rich, tangy, clean, smooth, mellow.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Ruskova Vodka




The history of vodka
The primitive production and consumption of vodka began roughly in the 13th and 14th centuries, when the method of distillation was invented 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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Comments and Suggestions:

Sat. October 8, 2016 3:22 PM - by: John S Grek
I don't understand why Cristall Vodka isn't on the list. This is one of the smoothest finest vodkas in the world. Try it for yourself and see.
Thu. September 1, 2016 2:22 PM - by: leslie leveson
We live and learn in this world,for I only have heard of one vodka in this list.What surprised me being countries like Israel New Zealand Iceland producing their own brands.When the market is dominated by the big companies,others are not thought of regards to choice.
Mon. June 13, 2016 7:33 PM - by: Gregory Lorenzen
Thanks for this ranking and posting.I believe it is non-biased because my favorite value- priced vodka, scored highly, twice. I will most certainly revisit your site and hopefully, I can recommend you to others.

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Fifty Best > Spirits > Best Vodka 2016
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