Domestic Vodka
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Best Domestic Vodka

Distilling spirits is not new in America, but a resurgence is sweeping the county with hand-crafted artisanal vodka leading the way. There are now over 250 different brands of American-made vodkas, and the number continues to grow. Micro-distilleries in practically every state in the country are producing vodka. Eight states host more than 5 craft vodka distilleries each: California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington.

Much like craft brewers and vintners, terroir plays a key role, with importance placed on the water sources and the soil from which the base ingredients are cultivated. The highly dedicated master distillers proudly use homegrown grains (or potatoes, corn, grapes, honey, apples) and local water to produce their artisanal spirits. These distinctions provide nuance and character to the vodkas.

The local craft approach has proven successful, since most of the small batch vodkas often sell out despite limited availability within their home and surrounding states. If we are fortunate, wider distribution will introduce these vodkas to the enjoyment of aficionados everywhere.

 

The Fifty Best Domestic Vodka Tasting 2013

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 24 American-made unflavored craft vodkas with 14 pre-qualified judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the domestic vodkas were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water and neutral unflavored nuts and crackers were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through 3 flights of 7 vodkas each and 1 flight of three 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 were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting. Due to the high number of top scores from the judges, more Double-Gold medals were awarded than usual. Scores for the Gold Medals were also very close, with 5 vodkas tied with the exact same scores.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions. The states of origin and base ingredients are identified for each brand.

 

DOMESTIC VODKA TASTING RESULTS:

 

Indigenous

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Indigenous
(New York)
Apple cider based.

Nose: Anise, nutty, root, vegetal, buttered popcorn.
Palate: Creamy, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla ice cream, café au lait, buttery, potato, vegetal, mint.
Finish: Nutty, smooth, dry, balanced, short.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Medoyeff
(Oregon)
Grain based.

Nose: Subtle, floral, grain.
Palate: Citrus notes, fruit, creamy, nutty, almond, toast, grain, pepper, spice, light, smooth, mellow, elegant.
Finish: Toast, dry, smooth, balanced.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Medoyeff


Exchange


Exchange
(Oregon)
Grain based.

Nose: Mint, light grain, subtle anise, touch of herbal, melon.
Palate: White peppercorn, peppery, citrus, floral, mint, mineral notes, toast, salty, creamy mouthfeel, well-balanced.
Finish: Smooth, subtle, gentle.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal




Grand Teton
(Idaho)
Potato based.

Nose: Subtle apple, pineapple, honeydew, vanilla, fresh, crisp, touch of cola.
Palate: Buttery, vanilla, pastry, banana, melon, almond, rye notes, wet stone, mineral, clean.
Finish: Spicy, peppery, soft, smooth, elegant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Grand Teton


Colorado Gold



Colorado Gold
(Colorado)
Grain based.

Nose: Peaches, fresh bread, faint almond.
Palate: Delicate chocolate, creamy, nutty, herbal, wet stone, dry, silky, rich, smooth.
Finish: Moss, gentle, very balanced.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal




Expedition
(New Mexico)
Maize based.

Nose: Grain, vanilla, mixed spice.
Palate: Creamy, vanilla, grain, vegetal, white peppercorn, potato skin, mineral accents, crisp, well-balanced.
Finish: Creamy, spicy, light spice, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Expedition


HDC




HDC (Heritage Distilling Co. Vodka)
(Washington)
Grape based.

Nose: Banana, pear, fruity, spicy, cedar.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, vanilla, cream, herbal, grain, white pepper, peppery, fruity, silky, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Smooth, soft, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



True North
(Michigan)
Rye based.

Nose: Banana, banana cream, tropical fruits, vanilla, cream, honey.
Palate: Banana, banana cream pie, fruity, buttery, cream, cashew, eucalyptus, toast, peppery, spicy.
Finish: Fruity, spicy, pepper, smooth, silky, balanced.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



True North


Glass



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Glass
(Washington)
Grape based.

Nose: Vanilla notes, citrus, brioche, grain.
Palate: Caramel, cream, dried fruit, grain, subtle mint, grassy, pepper, wood, rich.
Finish: Smooth, delicate, zesty, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Western Son
(Texas)
Yellow corn based.

Nose: Clean, crisp.
Palate: Nutty, faint traces of marzipan, floral notes, sweet potato, semi-sweet, peppercorn, creamy mouthfeel, silky.
Finish: Peppery, smooth, well-balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Western Son


Tahoe Blue



Tahoe Blue
(California)
Grape, grain, and sugarcane based.

Nose: Floral notes, herbal, fruit, vanilla, dark toast.
Palate: Almond oil, buttery, cocoa, cashew, wet stone, clean, crisp, silky, smooth, well-balanced.
Finish: Soft, gentle, complex.

Gold Medal
Gold medal





Heroes
(Tennessee)
Corn based.

Nose: Fruity, toast, light cream, very light.
Palate: Woody, creamy, grain, almond, black pepper, clean, light, dry, nicely balanced, smooth, silky.
Finish: Toast, pepper, spicy, herbal, gentle.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Heroes


Starlite



Starlite
(Texas)
Yellow corn & winter wheat based.

Nose: Buttery, toast, minty, melon.
Palate: Vanilla, creamy, butter, sugar buns, powdered sugar, oily, touch hot peppercorn.
Finish: Peppery, smooth, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Buckeye
(Ohio)
Grain based.

Nose: Berry, light grain, vanilla, floral.
Palate: Vanilla, cream, buttery, Cola notes, root beer, sweet, almond, cashew, light toast, mineral.
Finish: Creamy, light pepper, soft, subtle, balanced, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Buckeye


Battistella



Battistella
(New York)
Grape based.

Nose: Anise, herbal, rye, dough, cherries, canteloupe, potato, root, crisp.
Palate: Coffee, minty, herbal, floral, cashew, white pepper, cigar box, silky, approachable.
Finish: Clean, smooth, delicate, vibrant, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



2bar
(Washington)
Wheat based.

Nose: Banana, tropical fruit, mangos, melon, raisin, molasses, powdered sugar, grain.
Palate: Raisin, banana, fruit, white peppercorn, sweet, pepper, anise, mineral, tannic.
Finish: Toast, smooth, dry, complex, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



2bar


Cardinal Sin



Cardinal Sin
(Missouri)
Toasted 2-row malted barley based.

Nose: Spearmint, mint, melon, bitter chocolate, toffee, clean.
Palate: Citrus, orange notes, banana, sugar, coffee, creamy, herbal, potato skin, silky, balanced.
Finish: Citrus, dough, spicy, rich, balanced, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Vivacity
(Oregon)
Organic corn based.

Nose: Spearmint, melon, watermelon, floral, wood, crisp.
Palate: Toast, wood barrel, white pepper, grassy, eucalyptus, anise, herbs, floral, melon, lemon curd, semi-sweet, smooth.
Finish: Rustic, earthy, woody, spicy, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Vivacity


Opulent



Opulent
(Minnesota)
Corn based.

Nose: Herbal, mint.
Palate: Minty, grassy, fruity, herbs, cigar box, mineral, wet stone, smooth.
Finish: Minty, mineral, gentle, zesty, clean.

Gold Medal
Gold medal




SILVER MEDAL WINNERS:

Five Wives
(Utah)
50% Corn, 50% Wheat.

Nose: Clean, light.
Palate: Peppercorn, peppery, white pepper, vanilla, cream, pastry dough, cane sugar, herbal, grassy, mineral.
Finish: Light, spicy, subtle, delicate, short.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Five Wives


CLEAR10



CLEAR10
(Kansas)
Grain based.

Nose: Touch of lemon/citrus, hazelnut.
Palate: Creamy, butter, peach, lightly sweet, grain, herbal, ground white pepper, wet stone, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Creamy, mint, complex.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



American Star
(California)
Corn based.

Nose: Fruity, vanilla, creamy.
Palate: Caramel, touch of licorice, mint, grassy, dark wood notes, mineral, silky.
Finish: Wood notes, smooth, soft, complex.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



American Star


Ugly Dog



Ugly Dog
(Michigan)
Wheat based.

Nose: Melon, candy.
Palate: Almond, grassy, mint, vanilla, creamy, very smooth, delicate, well-balanced, superb.
Finish: Very light.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Portland Potato
(Oregon)
Potato based.

Nose: Slight citrus, very light, subtle.
Palate: Anise, earthy, mossy, grassy, powdered sugar, creamy, potato skin, soft, elegant.
Finish: Spice, clean, approachable, short.

Silver Medal
Silver medal



Portland Potato Vodka

 

 

 

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