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Domestic Vodka 2012

Best Domestic Vodka - 2012

The Great Domestic Vodka Tasting of 2012


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 20 small batch handcrafted American vodkas with 18 pre-qualified judges. 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 and neutral unflavored crackers, unsalted nuts and bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through two flights of 7 vodkas and one flight of 6 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 based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges.

The tasting notes are summaries of the judges’ opinions. The States of origin are given, with a few tidbits added for each brand.


Here are the final results:

Peace Vodka


1.  Peace
(New York)
Locally grown whole wheat, pure Catskill Mountain water

Nose:Hint of chocolate, cola, vanilla ice cream, pastry dough, creamy, rye, peppery. Palate: Vanilla, butterscotch, cream, caramel, herbal, grassy, almond oil, nutty, pepper, nicely layered, very smooth, enjoyable. Finish: Buttery, vanilla, clean, fresh, pleasant, perfect.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

2.  Downslope Cane
Juice of Maui sugar cane, gluten free

Nose: Lemon-lime, light berry, honeydew, banana, vanilla, floral, herbal, coffee bean, lively. Palate: Minty, spearmint, almond, vanilla, fruity, herbal, faint cocoa, mild zest, dances on the palate. Finish: White pepper, cocoa, wonderfully soft, creamy, smooth, gentle, delightful.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Downslope Cane Vodka

Krā-zē Vodka

3.   Krā-zē
(New York)

Nose: Berry, slightly grassy, crisp, mineral. Palate: Grainy, creamy, mandarin orange, grassy, almond oil, cashews, anise, cocoa, zesty, round. Finish: Peppery, clean, fresh, touch of sweetness.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

4. LiV
(New York)
Potato-based, gluten free

Nose: Nutty, caramel, light vanilla, sweet, jasmine, honeysuckle. Palate: Caramel, vanilla, banana, dusty, nutty, herbal elements, floral, mint, anise, black pepper, spicy, smoky, balanced, enjoyable. Finish: Coffee, black pepper, pink peppercorn, spicy, tart, creamy, silky, great.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

LiV Vodka

Cold River Vodka

5. Cold River
100% Maine potatoes, water sourced from the Cold River Aquifer

Nose: Pear, apples, cinnamon, rose water. Palate: Sweet, vanilla, cream, bread, almond, grassy, herbal, black pepper. Finish: Creamy, peppery, zesty, gentle, smooth.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal


High West
Oat-based, snowmelt naturally filtered in deep rock aquifers

Nose: Vanilla, light coconut, grape, fruity, spicy, earthy. Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, molasses, coconut, banana, creamy, anise, almond, nutty, peppery, fruity, minty, silky. Finish: Coconut, powdered sugar, creamy, rich.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

High West Vodka

Most Wanted Vodka

Most Wanted
Grain-based, slow-filtration

Nose: Touch of lemon, potato, light, gentle. Palate: Grainy, light herbal, floral tones, mild dough, creamy, light vanilla, black pepper, dry, very smooth. Finish: Mineral, pastry dough, white pepper, cinnamon, corriander, touch of pepper, mellow.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Grain-based, Rocky Mountain water

Nose: Herbal, grassy, mineral. Palate: Herbal, grassy, vanilla cream, brittle, floral, woodsy, silky. Finish: Toffee, herbal, woodsy, silky, clean, mellow.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Revolution Vodka

Plantation Vodka

Blend of Southern grain and corn based, aquifer water naturally filtered through limestone

Nose: Honey, herbal, citrus, burnt sugar, mineral, leather. Palate: Nuts, ginger, orange, citron, bread, grainy, grassy. Finish: Potato, lively, zesty, spicy, complex, smooth, very nice.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Hand-selected distiller’s grains (midwestern corn, barley), natural iron-free limestone spring water, 5 times distilled

Nose: Berry, tropical, cola, light lime, grain. Palate: Vanilla, caramel, cream, silky, herbal, mint, light pepper, peppery, mineral, layered, mellow. Finish: Caramel, lightly spicy, zesty, mint, smooth, clean.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Mako Vodka

Valentine Vodka

Blend of barley, red Michigan wheat, and corn

Nose: Citrus, grain, dusty, subtle. Palate: Dusty, mineral, wet stone, melon, lemony, grassy, botanicals, grain, rye, creamy, light caramel, cocoa. Finish: Nutty, powdered sugar, anise, dry, crisp, creamy, rich, full-bodied.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Potato-based, gluten free, pure Rocky Mountain spring water

Nose: Light grain, some spice, complex, clean. Palate: Almond, nutty, rye, slightly peppery, herbal, grassy, floral, mineral, complex, very smooth. Finish: Almond, clean, intense floral, soft, silky, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Zodiac Vodka

1876 Vodka

Sweet midwest corn, purified water

Nose: Nutty, peppery, grassy, floral, clean, fresh. Palate: Buttery, vanilla, peppercorn, black pepper, mineral, tangy, soft, silky, mild, mellow, smooth, balanced. Finish: Creamy, floral, fresh.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Grain-based (including corn), three distillations and two charcoal filtrations

Nose: Subtle, spearmint. Palate: Powdered sugar, grainy, dusty, mineral, lemon peel, almond, minty, zesty, smooth, clean, fresh, light. Finish: Creamy, nutty, soft, clean, fresh.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Goat Vodka

Clear 10 Vodka

Clear 10
Local grains and naturally-filtered water, slow-filtered 10 times

Nose: Almond oil, subtle, delicate, neutral. Palate: Vanilla, cola, almond oil, touch of butter, grainy, stone, silky, rich, delicate, clean, smooth, balanced, refined. Finish: Floral, mint, soft, zesty.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Cold Steel
100% American winter wheat grain, natural spring water, filtered through a virgin coconut husk

Nose: Summer cotton field, mineral. Palate: Vanilla, almond oil, grain, dough, bread, herbal, earthy, soft, dry. Finish: Soft, clean, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Cold Steel Vodka

Mastermind Vodka

Local select Midwestern grain (corn & wheat)

Nose: Herbal, faint lemon, grainy, peppery. Palate: Layers of cream, buttery, vanilla, grassy, minty, delicate. Finish: Spice, very nice, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Blue Flame

Nose: Peppery, floral, woody, mezcal elements. Palate: Rich layers of stone fruit, fig, walnut, almond oil, anise, creamy, mezcal, pepper, woody, complex. Finish: Butterscotch, forceful herbal elements, smooth, bold.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Blue Flame Vodka

Veracity Vodka label


Organic corn-based, well water, cold filtered 10 times

Nose: Lime, citrus, kiwi, herbal, zesty. Palate: Rye, grain, herbal, grassy, minty, spicy, peppery, wet stone, cedar, cigar box, intense. Finish: Cocoa, sweet, black pepper, spicy, floral, nice, clean, crisp, mineral.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Corn-based, slow carbon filtration

Nose: Bread, herbal, anise, minty, cedar. Palate: Fruity, creamy, vanilla, sweet, almond, nuts, rye, grain, white pepper, wasabi, mint, mineral, woodsy. Finish: Gentle, herbal, mineral, bold, full-bodied.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Southern Vodka




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Tahoe Blue Vodka actually beat American Harvest at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, taking 1st place in the competition. American Harvest in that case is actually categorized as unflavored.
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American Harvest Vodka is not an unflavored vodka. It has sugar infused in the final stage. It would belong in the flavored vodka category.
Wed. March 27, 2013 7:15 AM - by: Clark Kent
American Harvest Vodka has been introduced into the Illinois marketplace. American Harvest is from the same company who made Grey Goose and from the same master distiller. After tasting it at a friends house I feel it is the best vodka I have ever tried. Why have you not listed this great vodka on your list?
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Fifty Best > Spirits Archive > Domestic Vodka 2012
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