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. The product typically released first by a new distillery is vodka, since it requires only simple ingredients, uncomplicated distillation techniques and no barrel aging. There are now over 450 brands of unflavored American vodkas. Vodka is currently being produced by micro-distillers in practically every state in the country. 5 states host Vodka Distillers Associations, including CO, WA, TX, OR. There are 8 states with more than 5 craft vodka distilleries in their own states, including California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington.

Much like craft brewers and vintners, the highly entrepreneurial master distillers proudly use local grains (or potatoes, rice, corn, grapes, honey, apples, etc.) and water to produce their small batch craft vodkas. These ingredients impart distinctive character and flavors to the finished products. Terroir now plays a key role in these artisanal spirits, and the 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. And with many of the domestics becoming recognized by major distributors, vodka lovers can now purchase these artisanal spirits nationwide, with more and more becoming available at retailers outside the distillers' home states. Let's hear it for the American vodka revolution!

 

The Fifty Best Domestic Vodka Tasting 2015


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 43 American-made unflavored craft vodkas with 15 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 tasted four flights of 7 vodkas, took a food break, then proceeded through three more flights of 7 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. 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 states of origin and base ingredients are identified for each brand.

 



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Viracocha
(New Mexico)
Made from potatoes, bottles numbered and dated.

Nose: Very light mineral, sand, clean, perfectly neutral.
Palate: Creamy, pastry dough, marshmallow, banana, sweet, very smooth, silky, flavorful, vibrant.
Finish: Delicate grain, black pepper, wet stone, lovely minerality, smooth, silky, soft, gentle, delicate, elegant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Viracocha Vodka



Still Pond Vintners Vodka
(Georgia)
Made from grapes and grains.

Nose: Citrus, grape must, fruity, roasted candy, powdered sugar, floral, grains, clean linen.
Palate: Cream, milky, vanilla, honey, grain, wild dandelion, coffee, very well balanced.
Finish: Creamy, vanilla, smooth, clean.


Double Gold Medal
   Double Gold medal



Still Pond Vintners Vodka



Oryza
(Louisiana)
Made from local rice, distilled 17 times.

Nose: Citrus, banana, plum brandy, sugar cane, mineral.
Palate: Creamy, vanilla, sugar cane, banana, melon, citrus, grains, wet moss, briny, minerals, delicate.
Finish: Pepper, saline, silky, smooth, clean, bold, complex, nice balance, lovely.


Double Gold Medal
   Double Gold medal



Oryza Vodka



Pür Class
(Wisconsin)
Made from potatoes.

Nose: Sweet grain, almond, light honey, alluring floral.
Palate: Coconut, banana, sugar, sweet corn, creamy, almond, cocoa, coffee, grains, soft, smooth.
Finish: Coffee, potato, wet stone, zesty, vibrant, smooth, approachable.

Double Gold Medal
   Double Gold medal



Pür Class Vodka



Two Sisters
(New York)
Made organic wheat, Adirondack mountain spring water.

Nose: Fruity, melon, floral, bread, nutty, earthy.
Palate: Creamy, caramel, cocoa, melon, grain, spice, pepper, white pepper, mineral, wet stone.
Finish: Wet stone, minerals, creamy, soft, smooth, silky, dry.

Double Gold Medal
   Double Gold medal



Two Sisters Vodka



Real Russian
(Illinois)
Made from Midwestern grain.

Nose: Grain, cream, hint of orange zest, grassy, cashew, subtle stone.
Palate: Creamy, vanilla, powdered sugar, grain, mineral, light, off-dry, balanced, zesty, vibrant, pleasing.
Finish: Citrus, soft, touch of spice, very clean, fresh, nice heat.

Double Gold Medal
   Double Gold medal



Real Russian Vodka



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

360
(Maryland)
Made with local grain, 4x distilled, 5x filtered with charcoal.

Nose: Grain, vanilla, lemon.
Palate: Vanilla, cream, grain, currants, lemongrass, grassy, pepper, smooth, clean, fresh.
Finish: Berry, crisp, smooth, easy.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



360 Vodka



Menage A Trois
(California)
Made from grain, California mountain spring water, distilled 6x, triple filtration.

Nose: Cantaloupe, espresso.
Palate: Creamy, whipped cream, coconut, cantaloupe, melon, peppery, spicy, mineral, crisp, silky, smooth.
Finish: Tart, nice, smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Menage A Trois Vodka



Ogden's Own Five Wives
(Utah)
Made from 100% corn, Utah mountain springs water.

Nose: Citrus notes, very subtle fruit, light floral, faint chocolate, light minerality, wet stone, fresh waterfalls.
Palate: Honey, creamy, honeysuckle, almond oil, cashew, grains, potato skin, cigar box, cucumber, dry mint, forest floor.
Finish: Pepper, very clean, crisp, dry, subtle, packs a punch.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Ogden's Own Five Wives Vodka



Wildcat
(Ohio)
Made from corn, 10x distilled in small batches, charcoal filtering.

Nose: Grains, wheat, olives, lightly herbal, very delicate floral notes, perfectly neutral.
Palate: Rye, grain, honey, herbal, mineral oil, loamy earth, white pepper, dusty, silky, clean, well balanced.
Finish: Vanilla, grain, winter grains, dusty, lively, zesty, crisp, nice, flavorful, approachable. exceptionally smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Wildcat Vodka



Cox & Row
(New York)
made from grain.

Nose: Citrus, light fruit, light cocoa, pastry.
Palate: Cocoa, cream, caramel, powdered sugar, melon, citrus, grains, mushroom, minerals, black pepper, spice, wood barrel.
Finish: Wood, pine, wet stone, gentle.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Cox & Row Vodka



Zodiac
(Texas)
Made from potatoes, Snake River aquifer water.

Nose: Mineral, nutty notes.
Palate: Blend of fruit & herbs, grapefruit, light citrus, butter cream, whipped cream, pastry dough, hint of nuts, mineral notes, white pepper, black pepper, extra smooth.
Finish: Hint of coconut, nuts, pepper, spicy, clean, smooth, intense.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Zodiac Vodka



3BEES
(Minnesota)
Made from honey.

Nose: Ripe banana peel, banana, rhubarb, melon, light fruit, bubblegum, herbal, mint.
Palate: Banana peel, fruit, assertive ginger, cocoa, white pepper, wet stone, silky smooth, bold, lively.
Finish: Rye, sweet, soft, silky, approachable.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



3BEES Vodka



Bonn Óir
(Texas)
Made from soft white wheat, pure glacier water.

Nose: Peppery, melon, delicate.
Palate: Vanilla, creamy, bread, grain undertones, anise, herbal, floral, nutty, white peppercorn, nice contrast of flavors, complex, soft, assertive.
Finish: Peppercorn, cocoa, dry, nice, smooth, soft.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Bonn Óir Vodka



Montana Cold Spring
(Montana)
Made from local grain, Rocky Mountain water.

Nose: Vanilla, grain, dusty, wet stone.
Palate: Vanilla, chocolate, pastry dough, potato skin, black pepper, spicy, grassy, mossy, delicate floral, tobacco leaf, smooth.
Finish: Powdered sugar, cloves, soft, easy, delicate.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Montana Cold Spring Vodka



Florida CANE
(Florida)
Made from sugar cane.

Nose: Very subtle fruit, fresh, clean.
Palate: Cocoa, grains, creamy, almond oil, citrus, floral, grassy, spice, peppery.
Finish: Black fruit, cocoa, rich pepper, complex, nice, smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Florida CANE



Abner Doubleday
(New York)
Made from 100% NY wheat.

Nose: Grain, mild mossy, brine.
Palate: Buttery, toffee, pastry dough, powdered sugar, almond oil, lemony, floral, anise, grain, sweet.
Finish: Clean, silky, smooth, nice, vibrant, zesty.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Abner Doubleday Vodka





LEAF Rocky Mountain Mineral Water
(Michigan)
Made from organic wheat, Rocky Mountain mineral water.

Nose: Citrus, mineral water, mild floral, subtle grain.
Palate: Grain, subtle coffee, anise, herbal, minty, mossy notes, mineral, creamy, rich, well balanced.
Finish: Creamy, butterscotch, wet stone, mellow, assertive back palate, flavorful, amazing.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



LEAF Rocky Mountain Mineral Water Vodka





Shakespeare
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
Made from grain.

Nose: Grain, lemon-lime.
Palate: Citrus, lemon, lime, spearmint, moss, grain, white pepper, black pepper, mild mineral, bold, well balanced.
Finish: Powdered sugar, hints of lemon, spicy, smooth, assertive, lively.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Shakespeare Vodka





1961
(New York)
Made from grain.

Nose: Classic grain, mild herbal, light, very subtle maritime.
Palate: Light citrus, lemon/orange, vanilla, sweet cane, pastry dough, cashews, coffee, white peppercorn, mineral, wet stone, cigar box.
Finish: Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, potato skin, creamy, soft, smooth, delicate, classic, amazing.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



1961 Vodka



LEAF Alaskan Glacier Water Vodka
(Michigan)
Made from organic wheat, Alaskan glacier water.

Nose: Fruit, pear, faint lemon, grain, vibrant spice, hint of must.
Palate: Cream, almond oil, almond, plum, papaya, light citrus, grains, spice.
Finish: Almond, clean, gentle, silky, smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



LEAF Alaskan Glacier Water Vodka





Azzurre
(California)
Made from 34% grapes, 33% apples, 33% sugar cane.

Nose: Melon, cantaloupe, herbal, grassy, light tree bark, captivating.
Palate: Creamy, milky, vanilla, butterscotch, sweet orange, melon, grains, potato skin, nutty, white pepper, rich, smooth, meadow fresh.
Finish: Whipped cream, powdered sugar, touch of fruit, moss, spicy, smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



azzurre Vodka





Orange County
(New York)
Made from sugar beets.

Nose: Fig, dates, almost agave, banana, pastry dough, ripe mushroom, floral, light anise, dusty, potato skin, wet stones.
Palate: Fruity, creamy, honey, mineral, wet stone, dusty, spicy, slightly peppery.
Finish: Dusty, woody, light, soft, very smooth, nice heat, elegant.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Orange County Vodka





Nightside
(Washington)
Made from Washington apples and cane sugar.

Nose: Fruity, melon, cherry vanilla, pastry dough, grain, vegetal, sweet pea, crisp.
Palate: Toffee, pastry, cream, melon, hint of lemon zest, mint, grassy, green earth, wet stone, dusty, mineral, spicy.
Finish: Grain, pastry dough, herbal, soft, balanced, beautiful.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Nightside Vodka





Fáilte
(Idaho)
Made from potatoes.

Nose: Honey, fruity, fruit salad, light banana, mimosa, red slate.
Palate: Caramel, honey, powdered sugar, melon, honeydew, almond oil, grains, pepper, cigar box, minerals, balanced.
Finish: Powdered sugar, bergamot notes, light spice, assertive, great.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Fáilte Vodka





CD
(Illinois)
Made from grain.

Nose: Herbal.
Palate: Citrus, herbal, grains, wet stone, silky, smooth, well balanced.
Finish: Citrus, apple notes, smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



CD Vodka





Six One Nine
(California)
Made from corn.

Nose: Very subtle, buttery, grain.
Palate: Coffee, grain, mineral, moss, wet stone, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Coffee, cocoa, grain, soft, nice, easy, delicate.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Six One Nine Vodka





Three Bitches
(Pennsylvania)
Made from high quality wheat.

Nose: Honey, cocoa, grain, light herbal.
Palate: Cocoa, honey, light cream, grain, anise, cucumber, mineral, cigar box, exceptionally smooth, balanced.
Finish: Mossy, gentle, complex, zesty.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Three Bitches Vodka



Rider
(Kansas)
Made from selected wheat, using copper stills, slow filtered.

Nose: Cream, butterscotch, sweet, pastry dough, fruity, light floral, almond oil, vegetal, white peppercorn, vibrant.
Palate: Vanilla, pastry, creamy, almond, nutty, coffee, black pepper, cantaloupe, potato skin, mineral.
Finish: Vanilla, intensely herbal, dusty, dry, gentle, delicate.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Rider Vodka





Elk Rider
(Washington)
Made from corn.

Nose: Pastry, cocoa, light sugar, lemon oil, moss.
Palate: Lemon, grassy, herbs, sweet bark, grains, black peppercorn, peppery, mineral, gentle.
Finish: White peppercorn, spicy, wet stone, intense, delicate.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Elk Rider Vodka





Balls
(New York)
Made from grain, 4x distilled.

Nose: Citrus, cucumber, mint, floral, alluring.
Palate: Cocoa, vanilla, almond, grain, cucumber, herbal, mossy, ultra smooth.
Finish: Mint, tingling lime, spice, pepper, wet stone.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Balls Vodka





Rolling River
(Oregon)
Made from wheat, Mt. Hood water.

Nose: Rye, grain, honey, pollen, powdered sugar, whipped cream, shelled nuts, grape must.
Palate: Rye, coffee, grains, lovely floral, mineral, black pepper, spicy, touch of sweet, mineral, layers of flavor, full flavored.
Finish: Creamy, balanced, nice balance of pepper/cream, intense.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Rolling River Vodka



Loft & Bear
(Downtown LA, California)
Made from wheat.

Nose: Herbal, mild marshmallow, crisp.
Palate: Pastry dough, creamy, nutty, grains, herbal, mint, peppery, slight mineral.
Finish: Sugar, wet stone, gentle, classic.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Loft & Bear Vodka



True North
(Michigan)
Made from local rye.

Nose: Vanilla, honey, dates, mineral.
Palate: Creamy, vanilla, floral, herbal, grains, nuts, hint of cocoa.
Finish: Nutty, wet stone, lively, zesty.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



True North Vodka





Gunnar's Real Craft
(Florida)
Made from local corn.

Nose: Clean.
Palate: Cocoa, creamy, light honey, light plum, nuts, wheat, grains, mineral oil, balanced.
Finish: Rich sweet oils, spicy, peppery, wet stone.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Gunnar's Real Craft Vodka



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Glass
(Washington)
Made from grapes.

Nose: Rye, grain, honey, pollen, powdered sugar, whipped cream, shelled nuts, grape must.
Palate: Rye, coffee, grains, lovely floral, mineral, black pepper, spicy, touch of sweet, mineral, layers of flavor, full flavored.
Finish: Creamy, balanced, nice balance of pepper/cream, intense.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Glass Vodka





Banner
(Texas)
Made from organic corn, wheat and cane; filtered through coconut shell carbon.

Nose: Cocoa, floral, light fruity, pastry dough, grain, subtle nuts, mineral.
Palate: Chocolate, coffee, espresso, cream, nuts, mint, citrus, fruity, olives, peppery, spice, bread, grain, dusty.
Finish: Cocoa powder, savory cream, mint, pepper, dusty, balanced, intense.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Banner Vodka



CH@T
(South Carolina)
Made from grain.

Nose: Citrus, grain, light vanilla.
Palate: Rye, grain, rice, powdered sugar, white peppercorn, mint, briny, dusty, mineral, very well balanced.
Finish: Mushrooms, complex, controlled heat, nice vibrant.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



CH@T Vodka



Blue Heron
(Kentucky)
Made from grain.

Nose: Vanilla, whipped cream, fruit, pastry dough, jasmine, super vegetal, mineral, lively, assertive.
Palate: Sweet melon, honey, caramel, whipped cream, almond, coffee, pastry dough, grain, wet stone, very approachable.
Finish: Pizza dough, slate, clean, fresh, nice, full.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Blue Heron Vodka





Industry Standard
(Brooklyn, NY)
Made from sugar beets. Naturally grown yeast fermented in glass and stainless tubes. Two-step distillation process.

Nose: Lemon zest, subtle pomegranate, melon, herbs, vegetal, mint, fresh grass, mossy, cocoa, grainy.
Palate: Cocoa, coffee, pastry, pastry dough, bread, grain, floral, cashews, old leather, tangy, peppery.
Finish: Soft, milky, subtle, gentle.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Industry Standard Vodka





Penn 1681
(Pennsylvania)
Made from rye.

Nose: Orange peel, gingko fruit, floral, grain, licorice, mineral.
Palate: Pastry dough, cola, grain, anise, spice, black pepper, minerals.
Finish: Fresh pepper, cola, easy.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Penn 1681 Vodka





Wheel House
(California)
Made from grain.

Nose: Buttery, sweet cream, vanilla, guava, spearmint.
Palate: Cocoa, creamy, ice cream, guava, mixed citrus, floral, minty, mushrooms, minerals, silky.
Finish: Chocolate, wet almonds, slight tobacco, smooth.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Wheel House Vodka



Cardinal
(Indiana)
Made from grapes and grain.

Nose: Fruity, carob, vegetal, moss, earth, dusty, woody.
Palate: Mossy, grassy, mint, mineral, wood.
Finish: Pepper, parsnip, anise, cinnamon, wet stone, limestone.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Cardinal Vodka

 

 

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