A Complete Guide to the Most Popular Brands of Vodka
Going back as far as a small town in Russia in the 9th century, vodka has had staying power, now being the best-selling spirit on the market.
While early vodka got made from potatoes and only distilled once, now vodka gets created from a variety of products and goes through multiple distills to create the final product. It must also get to 40% ABV or 80 U.S. proof to be considered vodka.
It makes sense that with its worldwide popularity that there are many brands of vodka to choose from, each with different backgrounds and distilling processes.
If you walk into your local liquor store or get on ShopSK.com, you will see an array of different types of spirits but many different types of vodka too. It can be hard to know which is the best for your cocktail making.
Read on to learn more about different vodka brands and how the best brands vary in taste.
What Is Vodka?
Vodka is a clear distilled liquor that can trace its roots back to Poland, Sweden, and Russia. It's made from distilled water and a variety of grain types, including:
Some modern brands of vodka are stretching beyond those known grains for production and distilling using more unusual ingredients like potatoes, milk, grapes, apples, quinoa, and even milk.
As more brands have joined the vodka marketplace, they've become more specialized, with various price points and features. One thing many vodka brands have done is to include some of their vodka options infused with other flavors.
Whether you like your vodka straight up or in a craft cocktail, the wide range of brands gives you an abundance of options. Now, let's look at some of the most popular brands.
Not only is Absolut among the best-known vodka brands, but it's also one of the best overall. One thing that makes Absolut noteworthy is that it contains no added sugar to production, which can't be said of many other vodka brands.
Absolut has a crisp, clean taste without any added flavors. It presents its iconic apothecary bottle with wheat aromas. This Swedish brand is the perfect vodka on the rocks or in a cocktail.
When mixed in a cocktail, the sweet notes of the vodka really shine.
So highly regarded, Absolut Elyx is worth mentioning separately from its parent brand. While Absolut Elyx has the same basic DNA as Absolut, its distillers took all they knew about vodka and some copper distilling to make this upscale brand.
Absolut Elyx gets made from single-estate winter wheat and the best Swedish refined water. The wheat and water get passed through a vintage copper column dating back to 1921.
Beluga Gold Line Vodka
Everything about Beluga Gold Line Vodka is luxurious and specialty, right down to the handmade bottle. The wire muzzle holds the cork and accentuates the delicate specialty bottle.
The rest period for Beluga Gold Line Vodka is 90 days, allowing it time to achieve its smooth taste and balanced structure.
Made from ingredients such as rice extract, Rhodiola Rosea extract, and purest artesian water, it's easy to understand how this is a refined vodka at the top of its class.
Vodka aficionados will argue over who first brought vodka to the marketplace, the Russians or the Polish. Either way, Belvedere is a polish vodka earning all its acclaim.
Belvedere gets made from Dankowskie Gold rye, then put through a quadruple distilling process. It's this process that makes Belvedere to be known for its ultra-smooth flavor.
Another feature worth noting for Belvedere vodka is that it's completely additive-free, including sugar or glycerin.
Buffalo Trace White Dog
While most would know Kentucky for its bourbon and whiskey brands, Buffalo Trace White Dog is Kentucky's vodka standout.
This is a rich vodka with notable flavors, including bread dough, popcorn, toasted grains, apples, and hints of tropical fruit.
Cîroc Vodka is another celebrity entry into the liquor business. Sean "Diddy" Combs is a partner and big promoter of his vodka brand.
It's worth noting because of its unique flavor and quality. Unlike many vodkas, which get made from some type of grain, Cîroc Vodka comes from grapes from the Charente-Maritime region of France.
It's made using a charcoal filter and features a one-of-a-kind sweet, medium-bodied flavor profile. Cîroc is one of the best brands that has forayed into the flavored vodka market and done well.
It currently has seven flavored options, all painting the smooth, unique flavor of the original. If you're a Cîroc fan, you can also watch for limited-edition specialty flavors.
If you're looking for a true classic in the vodka market, give Chopin a try. Many vodkas are now distilled with unique grains; this polish vodka gets distilled with potatoes, one of the earliest ingredients in vodka.
Chopin has an earthy and creamy taste that features hints of sweet apple as back notes in its flavor. This vodka is gluten-free and meant to be sipped and chilled neat.
If you want an interesting drinking vodka experience, consider a taste test with this Chopin and the brand's other vodkas distilled from wheat and rye.
Crystal Head gets its attention from both its fun skeleton head bottle and its unique, slightly sweet flavor. This Canadian vodka gets made from peaches and cream corn, giving the vodka its hint of sweetness.
Part of Crystal Head's distillery process includes being filtered through layers of quartz crystals known as Herkimer diamonds. Depending on the vodka drinker, fans notice hints of vanilla, peach, black pepper, lemon, and other fruits.
It's worth noting this brand comes from actor Dan Aykroyd and artist John Alexander who were responsible for designing the brand's iconic bottle to represent life.
Grey Goose is a top-shelf vodka coming to the US from France and longtime Cellar Master Francois Thibault.
Somehow Thibault has mastered taking the two ingredients and turning them into this classic vodka brand. Grey Goose is made from single-origin Picardie wheat. Then spring water from their natural well in Gensac-la-Pallue is used with it.
Grey Goose is widely regarded by bartenders everywhere. The vodka brand also has a successful foray into infused flavored vodkas, including its three classic flavors of La Poire, L'Orange, and Le Citron.
The specialty flavors are infused with natural fruit and botanical essences and make additional flavors like Grey Goose Strawberry & Lemongrass, Watermelon & Basil, and White Peach & Rosemary, to name a few.
Hangar 1 earns its name because it's actually distilled in California in a converted WWII-era aircraft hangar.
But Hangar gets all the attention for its smooth taste. Made from both a blend of wine grapes and Midwestern grain, the vodka gives drinkers a hint of fruit on the palate and florals on the nose.
This single-batch vodka is distilled with great care, making it an excellent choice for drinking on the rocks.
While many vodka brands boast about the standout flavors that are a part of their vodka, Ketel One is actually not that at all. Instead, it maintains a spot on this list because of its smooth taste that doesn't include excessive flavor notes.
It's a reliable vodka that is consistently good and has a lower price point than many of the other stars on this list. Many appreciate the clean, smooth flavors of Ketel One, making it a nice vodka to drink on the rocks or in simple cocktails like a martini.
Many celebrities have chosen to throw their hat in the ring for liquor making. They get much notoriety because they come with a celebrity name.
King St. Vodka comes to the world from Kate Hudson, who saw an opening for a female distiller to join the ranks. While it comes from Kate Hudson, who appreciates the value of a good dirty martini, King St. earns its kudos on its own merits.
King St. Vodka is made with alkaline water and gluten-free corn. It's then distilled a whopping seven times for purity, giving it a 43% AB (most vodkas average 40% ABV).
One of the most popular spirits brands coming from the US is Tito's. It's distilled in Austin, Texas, at the first legalized distillery since the era of Prohibition.
Tito's has garnered acclaim for several reasons. Many appreciate that it's gluten-free, being with corn. Others appreciate that it's made with the classic pot still method, which is rare for vodka makers.
Tito's does have hints of sweetness with a black pepper taste, yet it's hugely popular for cocktail making, with its sweet and savory undertones.
Choose from the Best Brands of Vodka
Of all the types of liquor, including white rum, whiskey brands, tequila brands, and other different kinds of spirits, vodka is interesting because of all the different methods for distilling and ingredient choices.
It makes choosing and trying many brands of vodka interesting and unique. Take a look at the vast array of vodka choices on the market to learn more.