Domestic Vodka
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Best Domestic Vodka

 

Most vodka drinkers are familiar with vodka's illustrious history in the Old World. What about New World American vodkas? Distilling spirits is not new to the United States – but recently a spirits renaissance has taken hold with hand-crafted artisanal vodka leading the way. That is because a new distillery's first release is typically vodka, since it requires only simple ingredients, uncomplicated distillation techniques and no barrel aging. There are now over 600 brands of unflavored American-made vodkas, produced by micro-distillers in practically every state in the country. Five states host Vodka Distillers Associations, including Colorado, Texas, Oregon and Washington State. California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington boast more than five craft vodka distilleries in their respective states.

Much like craft brewers and vintners, the highly entrepreneurial master distillers proudly use local grains (or potatoes, rice, corn, grapes, honey, apples, etc.) and regional water to produce their small batch craft vodkas. These ingredients impart distinctive character and flavors to the finished products. In addition to multiple distillations and filtrations, terroir now plays a key role in these artisanal spirits, with an importance placed on the water sources and the soil from which the base ingredient is grown.

This local craft approach has proven successful. Because even though most of the domestic vodka brands are available only within their surrounding states, they usually sell out their entire production. As more and more domestic vodkas become recognized by major distributors, vodka lovers will for the first time be able to purchase these artisanal spirits outside the distillers' home states &ndash as local brands become increasingly available nationwide.

 

The Fifty Best Domestic Vodka Tasting 2016


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 23 American-made unflavored craft vodkas with 13 pre-qualified judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The vodkas were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Each of the vodkas were judged and scored separately. 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 distilleries, states of origin and base ingredients are identified for each brand. All products are 80 proof, unless otherwise indicated.



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

LEAF Rocky Mountain Mineral Water Vodka
(Temperance Distilling Co., Michigan)
Made from Organic Wheat.

Nose: Melon, citrus, very light wheat, peppery, wet stone, mineral water, very clean.
Palate: Creamy, buttery, dark sugar, pastry dough, grain, coconut, lemon-lime, citrus, mint, nutty, white pepper, pepper, spicy with sweet edge, clean, smooth.
Finish: Creamy, orange, anise, white pepper, red pepper, balanced, smooth, very approachable, yum.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   LEAF Rocky Mountain Mineral Water Vodka



Boardroom Vodka
(Boardroom Spirits, Pennsylvania)
Made from corn.

Nose: Balsam, cigar box, faint, clean.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, clotted cream, sugarcane, citrus, raisin, cashew, mint, peppercorn, spicy, cedar, pine wood, mellow, clean, crisp.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, powdered sugar, orange peel, crisp, mellow, smooth, approachable.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Boardroom Vodka



Marz Vodka
(Supernova Spirits, California)
Made from 100% French wheat, 3x filtered, 5x distilled.

Nose: Cocoa, nutty, grain, pastry dough, coffee, mint, grass, mossy, woody.
Palate: Vanilla, dark sugar, cocoa, whey, cottony, grain, rye, white pepper, pepper, spicy, mineral, wet stones, crisp, smooth, rich.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, buttery, light mint, peppery, smooth, balanced, vibrant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



marz Vodka



Glimmerglass Vodka
(Cooperstown Distillery, New York)
Made from NY State white wheat, 6x distilled, 2x charcoal filtered.

Nose: Vanilla, pastry, light grain, caraway, faint wintergreen, white pepper, peppery, balsam wood, water moss rocks, hint of minerality, very clean.
Palate: Cotton candy, sugar, light vanilla, lemon-lime, citrus, grain, mellow, clean, smooth, well-balanced.
Finish: Orange peel, sugars, licorice, spicy, mineral, balanced, nice, soft, smooth, perfect.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Glimmerglass Vodka



RedTerra Vodka
(Two World Spirits, Oregon)
Made from pure Blue Agave from the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.

Nose: Cream, powdered sugar, pastry, lemon lollypop, apple, melon, zesty citrus, anise, herbs, bread, wet grain, mineral, wet stone.
Palate: Vanilla, cream, apple, lemon, melon, agave, roasted agave, pepper, almond, grain, mint, basil, mineral sweet, Tequila-like, rich, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, citrusy, spearmint, white pepper, leather, smooth, well-balanced, lively, vibrant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



RedTerra Vodka



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Breckenridge Vodka
(Breckenridge Distillery, Colorado)
Made from grain, water from Rocky Mountain Snowmelt.

Nose: Melon, minty, nutty, powdered wood, wet rocks, very subtle.
Palate: Vanilla, cream, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, pastry dough, wheat, grains, nutty, cantaloupe, citrus, wintergreen, slate, smooth, refreshing.
Finish: Citrus, light pepper, tart, assertive, well-balanced, silky, creamy, smooth, approachable.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Breckenridge Vodka



Ocean Organic Vodka
(Hawaii Sea Spirits, Maui, Hawaii)
Made from organic sugar cane, blended with deep ocean mineral water sourced from 3,000 feet below the Kona Coast.

Nose: Light mint, earthy,
hints of graphite, very crisp, clean.
Palate: Caña, creamy, vanilla, marzipan, citrus, herbal, spearmint, minty, grassy, mossy, wet stone, rich, smooth, lightest of light, perfect.
Finish: Orange, coconut, cream, herbal, pepper, wet stone, clean, well-balanced.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ocean Organic Vodka



Vodka Viracocha
(KGB Spirits, New Mexico)
Made from potatoes, artesian spring water from Los Luceros, distilled five times,.

Nose: Mint, grass, dandelion leaves, pastry dough, clean, very subtle.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, cocoa, whipping cream, powdered sugar, citrus, herbal, white pepper, jalapeño, spicy, wet stone, clean, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, creamy, lemon peel, mint, spicy, peppery, crisp, wet stone, silky, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Vodka Viracocha



Eli's StrongArm Vodka
(Tom's Town Distilling Co., Kansas City, Missouri)
Made from grain, distilled 16 times.

Nose: Banana taffy, banana bread, light citrus, floral, minty, clean, perfectly balanced.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, powdered sugar, creamy, cookie dough, grain, citrus, white pepper, spicy, mossy, woody, mineral, silky.
Finish: Vanilla, powdered sugar, pastry, cream, well-balanced, spry, delicate, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Eli's StrongArm Vodka



Crescent Vodka
(Cajun Spirits Distillery, New Olreans, Louisiana)
Made from 100% Louisiana sugarcane, 3x filtered.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, sugar cane, bubblegum, honeydew, cantaloupe, melon, key lime, floral, bread, mossy.
Palate: Cane sugar, cream, tropical fruit, melon, pineapple, sweet plantain, bread, nuts, pecans, nutmeg, white pepper, peppery, rum-like.
Finish: Wintergreen, floral, white pepper, peppery, clean, balanced, complex, soft, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Crescent Vodka



Fremont Mischief
(Fremont Mischief Distillery, Seattle, Washington)
Made from soft winter wheat, pure mountain water.

Nose: Light vanilla, creamy, cantaloupe, floral, spearmint, very clean.
Palate: Creamy, citrus, grape, Red-Hots candy, basil, sweet mint, herbal, potato skin, pepper, pine wood, wet stone, mineral, mineral water, dusty, clean, smooth.
Finish: Apricot, wintergreen, peppery, silky, clean, gentle, balanced.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Fremont Mischief Vodka



Goat Artisan Vodka
(Peach St. Distillers, Colorado)
made from local grains, 3 distillations, charcoal filtration.

Nose: Light grain, floral, sweet grass, lemongrass, mossy, pond water, pepper, dusty.
Palate: Vanilla, whole milk, creamy, coconut, citrus, grain, floral, sweet grass, peppercorn, tart, crisp.
Finish: Creamy, burnt sugar, pepper, spicy, slate, silky, smooth, very balanced, vibrant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Goat Artisan Vodka



Wheatley Vodka
(Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, Kentucky)
Made from wheat, 10x distilled, 3x filtered.

Nose: Vanilla, creamy, toast, bread, grain, pine drops, grass, mineral, dusty, well-balanced.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, nougat, cream, vanilla, sugarcane, lemon peel, herb, grassy, wet grain, nutty, pepper, white pepper, hot pepper, spicy, dusty, balanced.
Finish: Lemon peel, candy apple, cotton candy, creamy, licorice, light spice, leather, balanced, smooth, nice, very approachable.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Wheatley Vodka



Five Wives Vodka
(Ogden's Own Distillery, Utah)
100% corn, Wasatch mountain spring water.

Nose: Potato skin, bread, light mint, distant burning grass, wet logs, crisp, clean, light.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, creamy, powdered sugar, pastry dough, grain, melon, citrus, anise, basil, white pepper, peppery, mineral, wet rocks, balanced, smooth.
Finish: Whipping cream, dough, mint, white pepper, peppery, clean, smooth, approachable.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Five Wives Vodka



LEAF Alaskan Glacial Water Vodka
(Temperance Distilling Co., Michigan)
Made from organic wheat, Alaska's Blue Lakes glacial water.

Nose: Light apple, citrus, chamomile, botanicals, wet stone, faint, subtle.
Palate: Light caramel, burnt sugar, powdered sugar, creamy, vanilla, citrus, anise, white pepper, grains, powdery crisp.
Finish: Caramel, creamy, grain, sweet pepper, mint, nice, smooth, balanced, awesome.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



LEAF Alaskan Glacial Water Vodka



Silver Fox Vodka
(The Great Dismal Distillery, Norfolk, Virginia)
Made from grain, distilled 3x. 90 proof.

Nose: Powdered sugar, creamy, pastry dough,, apple, citrus, mint, lemongrass, mountain air, dusty, silky.
Palate: Powdered sugar, bread, pastry dough, grain, citrus, peppery, black pepper, very clean jalapeño, spicy, smooth, approachable.
Finish: Pepper, spice, smooth, well-balanced, well rounded.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Silver Fox Vodka



Cruz Vintage Black Vodka
(U.S.)
Made from American winter wheat, distilled 5 times, charcoal filtered 3 times.

Nose: Vanilla, cream, pastry dough, white pepper, soft pepper, mineral, baby powder, very approachable, clean, slight zestiness.
Palate: Vanilla, citrus, herbs, grassy, mossy, potato, nutty, almond, pepper, wintergreen, dusty, wet stone, mineral, freshwater lake, delicate.
Finish: Lemon peel, apple, spicy, peppery, licorice, powdery, creamy, smooth, assertive, balanced, very pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Cruz Vintage Black Vodka



Glass Vodka
(Glass Distillery, Seattle, Washington)
Made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wine grapes.

Nose: Vanilla soft-serve ice cream, chocolate, banana, pineapple, melon, lime extract, honeydew, floral, herbal, mint, almond, pepper, rye, dusty, mineral, wet stone, crisp.
Palate: Powdered sugar, bread, pastry dough, grain, citrus, peppery, black pepper, very clean jalapeño, spicy, smooth, approachable.
Finish: Grapefruit, melon, grass, creamy, spicy, clean, delicate.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Glass Vodka



Solar Vodka
(Solar Spirits, Washington)
Made from local soft-white wheat.

Nose: Candy cream, vanilla, maple, banana, mango, orange peel, lemon peel, sweet cashews, black walnut.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, cream, white sugar, vanilla, banana cream, banana, citrus, grain, nutmeg, anise, minty, grassy, Tequila Sno-Cone.
Finish: Candy apple, banana, lemon peel, mint, briny pine, creamy, assertively spicy, zesty, a bit of a bite, nice, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Solar Vodka



Four Fights Crystal City Vodka
(Four Fights Distilling, Corning, New York)
Made from cane sugar, local corn, purified water, 6x pot distilled.

Nose: Honey, powdered sugar, melon, kiwi, berries, pineapple, dried palm trees, pizza dough, mossy, mint, clean.
Palate: Creamy, cocoa, citrus, dried fruits, herbs, anise, sorghum liquor, nutty, rye, white pepper, spicy, mineral, cottony, woody, earthy, clean, round.
Finish: Citrus, creamy, clean, smooth, spicy, lively, intense.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Four Fights Crystal City Vodka



OYO Vodka - Batch #050
(Middle West Spirits, Ohio)
Made from local soft red winter wheat, 34x originally distilled, unfiltered. Kosher.

Nose: Caramel, molasses, sugarcane, turbinado sugar, sweet grain, pastry dough, banana, melon, balsam, complex.
Palate: Caramel, burnt sugar, maple syrup, buttery, cream, cocoa, vanilla, pastry dough, grain, apple, pineapple, dates, figs, citrus, pine, mint, tobacco, pepper, silky.
Finish: Caramel, toffee, cocoa, creamy, powdered sugar, mint, spicy, complex, balanced, smooth, vibrant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



OYO Vodka



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Frozen Falls Vodka
(Honeoye Falls Distillery, New York)
Made from local rye.

Nose: Vanilla, green melon, faint citrus, herbal, bell pepper, mossy, nutty, grain, earthy, spicy.
Palate: Toffee, vanilla, whipped cream, egg cream, lemon drops, black pepper, olive brine, nutty, cashew, mineral, powdered wood.
Finish: Creamy, smooth, spicy, Tequila-like, complex, assertive, zesty.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Frozen Falls Vodka



Ringleader Vodka
(Backwards Distilling Co., Wyoming)
Made from grain, Rocky Mountain water.

Nose: Vanilla, creamy, lemon drops, bubblegum, banana bread, berry, pear, agave, pumpkin, grain, grassy, mossy, dusty.
Palate: Dark sugar, cream, cocoa, pastry dough, Juicy Fruit, sour apple, banana peel, almond, grain, vegetal, potato skin, pepper, pine needles, crisp.
Finish: Wintergreen, grass, peppery, white pepper, spicy, creamy, minerals, balanced, vibrant, nice and smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Ringleader Vodka

 

 

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Comments or questions welcome, please e-mail to: editor@thefiftybest.com

 

Comments and Suggestions:

 
Sun. October 30, 2016 12:35 AM - by: Deborah McKinney
What about Absolute?
 
 
Thu. September 1, 2016 8:51 PM - by: pankaj vishwakarma
very nice in test
 
 


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Fifty Best > Spirits > Domestic Vodka
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