I’d never seen it until recently, but Triple Eight vodka, with its distinctive three eight balls on the label, has been around since 2001. This vodka is an odd combination of organic corn from Holland (they grow corn in Holland!?) and water drawn from a well in Nantucket, where it is distilled.
Mainly available on the east coast plus Nevada, you won’t find Triple Eight in my neck of the woods. The company, however, was kind enough to send samples of its flagship, unflavored vodka, plus its three flavored versions (all are naturally flavored). All are reviewed below. Prices vary quite a bit, but you’ll find this on shelves ranging from $18 to $30.
Triple Eight Straight Vodka – Has a crisp, nutty aroma. Smooth mouthfeel, creamy, with a pleasant upfront flavor. But then comes a long, astringent aftertaste that’s awfully tough. This carries through to the entire line. 80 proof. B
Triple Eight Orange Vodka – Very light yellow in color, this citrus vodka has a strong orange nose, very full of citrus oil. The flavor is more harsh over ice, showing a somewhat bitter note tasting of orange peel. Would work very well in a classic cocktail alongside Grand Marnier, say. Also 80 proof, on the high side for an infused vodka. B+
Triple Eight Cranberry Vodka – New England is the home of the cranberry, so this bright crimson infusion (another rarity — most flavored vodkas are clear) better be good. Though just 68 proof, it’s too tart for drinking straight, which is the same problem you’ll find with the juice of this berry. (That’s why it’s always blended with grape juice, raspberry juice, or corn syrup, to give it some sweetness.) I’ll probably use this for a Thanksgiving cocktail. Works well as an ingredient in mixed drinks (try it with lemonade). B+
Triple Eight Blueberry Vodka – Never seen a spirit quite this color. Dark blue. Smells like fresh blueberries, amazing! Also 68 proof, this one is a powerhouse of flavor, but almost too much so. Overpowering straight, with some bitterness. Interesting as a component of heavily fruity cocktails, but use it sparingly; it quickly overpowers a drink (and promptly turns it blue). Not a player on its own. Also 68 proof. B-
I’ll add one note about all of these vodkas: Bring a pair of pliers to open some of the most hardcore stoppers on the planet.