Category Archives: Flavored Vodka

Review: Hangar One Spiced Pear and Maine Wild Blueberry Vodkas

Hangar One recently launched two new flavors to its extremely well-regarded infused vodka line (Kaffir Lime is widely thought of — by myself included — as the best flavored vodka on the market), with pears and blueberries their respective inspirations. Both are naturally infused, colorless, and bottled at 80 proof, uncommon for flavored vodkas. Thoughts on each follow.

Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodka – The “spices” in this mix aren’t revealed, but let’s take a stab at what they might be based on nosing and tasting: Cinnamon, cloves, perhaps some ginger. The pear flavor — pears are sourced from Colorado — is authentic and has that subtle earthiness that apples lack. The vodka component has plenty of bite, but it’s neither harsh nor unpleasant, making this spirit a good choice as a mixer in many scenarios. That said, pears have never really been my bag. If you’re into that kind of mulled pear cider character, you’ll likely be a fan of this seasonal concoction. B+

Hangar One Maine Wild Blueberry Vodka – Did you know over half of all wild blueberries in the U.S. come from Maine? Who knows how many of those end up in this vodka, but it’s surely a lot: This spirit is pungent with blueberry character from the moment it is poured, blueberry hanging heavy in the air. The body is about the same, not quite as rich as I was expecting, but still deep and quite delicious, blueberries all the way and just a touch of vodka bite on the back end. I like it a touch better than the also very good Stoli Blueberi. Overall it’s a really worthy candidate as one of the best fruit-flavored vodkas on the market. A

each $30 / hangarone.com

Review: Van Gogh Vodka Cool Peach and Rich Dark Chocolate

Two new flavored vodkas from Van Gogh, both fully in the realm of sanity when it comes to exotic inspirations. Both are naturally infused and are bottled at 70 proof.

Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka speaks for itself, evidently desiring to challenge Southern Comfort’s place in the peach-flavored pantheon. The nose is authentic and bright, promising great things within, but the body is sharp and biting. The peach character struggles to get through the raw alcohol notes, and the finish is hard and flat. Van Gogh has much more interesting flavors up its sleeve than this one. C+

Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka is intensely dark in color (thanks in part to caramel coloring added) and again the nose is promising and curious. Chocolate, yes, but lots of coffee character, too. This continues on to the palate. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought this was a coffee liqueur, not a chocolate one, the flavors are that strong. Yes, chocolate appears here too, and it is clearly bittersweet in comparison to, say, a milk chocolate spirit, with a little wood char coming through in the end. More intense than most chocolate vodkas, for sure. B+

each $30 / vangoghvodka.com

van gogh Rich Dark Chocolate and Cool Peach Review: Van Gogh Vodka Cool Peach and Rich Dark Chocolate

Review: Pearl Wedding Cake Vodka

Is it too late to celebrate that Kardashian wedding? Not in my book, and while it may be gauche to send a set of knives, why not honor the happy couple privately with a bottle of Pearl Wedding Cake Vodka.

Yes, vodka flavored like wedding cake. I didn’t know wedding cake had a flavor — I thought it was usually just “white cake,” and I’ve heard of all kinds of other oddball wedding cake flavors. Pearl’s take on the matter seems to focus primarily on vanilla. I suppose it could be construed as a general white cake and frosting flavor, but you could use this pretty interchangeably as vanilla vodka in any recipe.

Very sweet and pungent, there’s no bite here and no noticeable vodka character. Not a lot of nuance, but mostly harmless.

70 proof. Artificially and naturally flavored.

B / $14 / pearlvodka.com

pearl wedding cake vodka Review: Pearl Wedding Cake Vodka

Review: Hawaiian Vodka and Hawaiian Coconut Vodka

Hawaii is a land of rum and super-sweet frozen concoctions, but lately it seems that more vodka has been coming off the island than anything else. Hawaiian Vodka is distilled from sugar cane and filtered through lava rocks.

Hawaiian Vodka – The nose offers distinct candy character, with a moderately alcoholic undertone. This follows through pretty much exactly to the body, which is sweet, but not cloying. Again, that medicinal, alcoholic undertone is present, which mainly serves to prove this is vodka instead of white rum. Otherwise, secondary characteristics are elusive: Perhaps a touch of pineapple, and maybe a bit of orange peel. On the whole, it’s got a a nice balance of sweetness with traditional vodka notes. 80 proof. A-

Hawaiian Coconut Vodka – The smell hits you right when you pour a glass from the bottle, intense coconut character, heavy on the husk, actually, possibly a remnant of that lava rock filtering. The flavor is intense, surprisingly not quite as sweet as the unflavored vodka, but imbued with coconut flavor. Touch of chocolate — cocoa powder — on the finish. Really nice, but again, for the sweet tooths. 70 proof. A-

each $25 / hawaiianvodka.com

Review: Kansas Spirit Whiskey

You’re not in Kansas any more, Dorothy. Oh, wait, you are in Kansas, drinking Kansas whiskey.

Fittingly called Kansas Clean Distilled Spirit Whiskey, this new brand from the newly-formed Fabulous American Beverages company (no, that’s the company’s name), is unconventional in just about every way. For starters, it’s from Kansas, not Kentucky, and it’s distilled in a column still, entirely from winter wheat, not corn. That alone isn’t that eyebrow-raising. Column stills are used everywhere in Kentucky, and 100% wheat whiskeys, while rare, exist. So far, so good.

But the inspiration for Kansas, per the company, is vodka, and the final product is meant to appeal to a younger club crowd instead of, well — as the advertising puts it — old dudes. After this distillation, this spirit is mixed with other (presumably aged) whiskey, and the final product — which does not appear to be aged further — is bottled.

Kansas has a very pale yellow color that looks more like a lightly aged tequila than a whiskey. The nose and body are something else altogether. Take a whiff and you get not wood and smoke but candy. Marshmallows and cotton candy, extremely sweet. And I hardly ever use italics. It literally pours out of the glass as you smell it, it’s that strong. Long finish, and not unpleasant, just bracing in its sweetness. Calling it “smooth” is a serious understatement.

Kansas may connote the heartland, but the whiskey comes across more like a flavored vodka. In fact, that may technically be what it is. After all, many a vodka is distilled from wheat in a column still. If it isn’t aged directly, is it whiskey? Even if some whiskey goes into it?

I’m a bit baffled as to what exactly to make of Kansas. As “whiskey” it’s a disaster, completely without any of the character that makes real whiskey so distinctive. Maybe I’m the “old guy” now, after all.

But as a vodka alternative it’s actually pretty intriguing, with lots of character that you don’t usually get in the vodkaverse. Whiskey-flavored vodka? That’s not far from the mark. I’m not sure that’s a good thing for the spirits world, but what can you do? Now it’s here.

I also have little idea what to do by way of a rating. Here’s my best attempt.

80 proof.

B / $30 / kansascleandistilled.com

UPDATE: Kansas Owner Paul Goldman responds:

Christopher,

Thank you for taking the time to review Kansas. Your palate doesn’t quite agree with the people who love our whiskey. That’s okay with us. However your readers may wish get a few facts straight so that they might have a better understanding of what Kansas Whiskey is all about.

You write that Kansas may be technically, a vodka.  I hope you were not attempting here to disparage our brand and that you were just misinformed in your assertion. Actually technically, Kansas is, and can only be a whiskey as defined by the US TTB, the US government body that establishes strict guidelines as to what a spirit, of any category may claim to be.  Spirit whiskey is one of a number of categories of whiskey, like bourbon whiskey, scotch whiskey, straight whiskey, Irish whiskey etc. Many whiskies contain various blends of neutral spirit. Other whiskies distill some percentages of one grain mash at a higher level to supply the alcohol content and leave their other grains at a lower alcohol content to define flavor. Despite the various methods of distillation we’re all still whiskies. 

You suggest that you’re “..a bit baffled of what to make of Kansas. As a whiskey it’s a disaster.” We’ll take “baffled” as a compliment actually. We’re new, we’re a category of whiskey that is entirely unchartered and we deliver an experience–to some like yourself, that is curious. 

But to suggest its a disaster is just a weird thing to say.  Disaster as what? A bourbon? A Rye? Scotch? Surely you’d never compare a single malt to the ryes you love. Or an Irish to a port finished bourbon. I’m curious as to the context in which you’re comparing our whiskey. If you’ve not had another Spirit Whiskey against which to compare Kansas then you’re not in a position to make such a claim. Such a description without context appears careless and vaguely spiteful for some reason. 

Your readers might wish to also know that while you perceive Kansas as being sweeter than other whiskies, Kansas actually has a Brix degree, (sugar content) less than many whiskies we tested. By removing nearly all the congeners inherent in most whiskies–resulting in the smoothness you recognized,  Kansas is left without the harshness found in other whiskies. Your palate may possibly perceive that lack of intervening harshness as being “Sweeter”. 

Finally and on a personal note, I believe you were in receipt of our marketing materials. Indeed our marketing makes fun of the stodginess of the entire category of other whiskies. It should. Apart from a recent surge in Irish whiskey, (the result of a considerable spend), Whiskey is flat in sales and has been for 40 years. This has nothing to do with the delicious varieties of available whiskies and everything to do with their marketing people tripping behind their brands.  Its not the liquid’s fault that we see whiskey associated with old things, old labels old style bottles –which keeps the audience for whiskey firmly planted in middle aged men. 

But none of the observations we make, which make fun of competitor’s advertising and marketing of whiskey have anything to do with reviewers like yourself. That’s nuts. If you love whiskey, it doesn’t mean your old. It just means you’re in love. 

Our goal is spread that love just a little bit more.

Thanks again for your time, we just want to make sure everyone gets the facts straight.  

Best,

Paul Goldman
Owner, Kansas Clean Distilled Spirit Whiskey

kansas spirit whiskey Review: Kansas Spirit Whiskey

Review: Firefly Mint Tea Vodka

“Messing with a classic” is always a danger, and Firefly‘s mint-flavored version of its classic Sweet Tea Vodka is indeed a bit of a distraction from what makes this vodka stand out.

The tea character is certainly there, as is a healthy slug of mint. But while that tea remains authentic and smooth, the mint is rough and a bit artificial tasting. This comes across most clearly in the finish, which goes out not with a tapered coda but with an almost harsh sharpness, its touch of Altoids leaving you not ready for sip two but begging instead for an extra splash of water.

Hardly bad — the mint is downplayed in comparison to the tea, on the whole — it’s still not nearly the masterwork its big brother is.

B+ / $18 / fireflyvodka.com

Firefly Mint tea vodka Review: Firefly Mint Tea Vodka

Review: Smirnoff Whipped Cream and Fluffed Marshmallow Vodkas

OK, we’re fully into goofball territory now. Smirnoff’s latest flavors are full-on panty peeler, no bones about it, loaded with sugar, certainly full of artificial flavors, and dialed back to 60 proof so you can’t taste the alcohol. At all.

Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka – Sure, I’ll buy that. It’s more caramelized sugar than whipped cream. Baked Alaska or crispy creme brulee crust, with a distinct coconut vibe, instead of Reddy Whip. That said, it’s so sweet that any sense of “vodka” all but vanishes into the dessert course here. Add to coffee, hot chocolate, or your insulin shot. B

Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka – Are we done? We are not done. Because while I’ve tried whipped cream vodkas before, here comes the first marshmallow-flavored vodka I’ve ever tried. Fluffed isn’t right: Like the Whipped Cream version, there’s a burnt character here. This is toasted marshmallow, not fluffed marshmallow. I swear you can taste the stick that’s impaling the marshmallow and holding it over the campfire. I think this is a little more complex, and ultimately a bit more interesting — for a crazy girl drink vodka, anyway. B+

$14 each / smirnoff.com

Review: Smirnoff Coconut Vodka

What’s that? You want more nutty vodka flavors? You got it!

Here’s a coconut monster from Smirnoff, one of the big producers of flavored vodkas.

Clear, unlike UV’s milky white oddity, Smirnoff again shows that when it comes to coconut, the natural companion is rum, not vodka. There’s something about these two that just doesn’t seem to play well together: The coconut just can’t be sweetened enough to cut through the vodka’s harshness.

Here, the bite of the vodka is distracting, a too-strong burn that plays poorly with the tropical fruit. (It’s a fruit, right?) The nose is spot-on, but on the palate, the coconut character is very short and indistinct, the finish leaving you not with a hint of the islands but rather a nod to Mother Russia. Strange.

70 proof.

B- / $14 / smirnoff.com

smirnoff coconut Review: Smirnoff Coconut Vodka

Review: Stoli Chocolat Razberi Vodka

What do you do when you run out of flavors for your vodka? Start making combinations. Stolichnaya, which makes a Razberi vodka now but not a Chocolat, combines the two flavors, long considered natural buddies in the dessert world, into a single mega-vodka.

Stoli’s intentions here aren’t tough to fathom: The gooey, chocolate-dripping raspberry on the bottle let you know what you’re in for. Sure enough, the aromas of raspberry and especially chocolate fill the room when you pour it into a glass. Then, on the tongue, it works about as expected: Both flavors are natural, authentic, and balanced with enough moderate sweetness to make this friendly enough to sip. The alcohol level — 75 proof — is the only challenge. It has real bite in the finish, reminding you that, yes, you’re sipping Stoli in the end.

Though I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with this Latvian liquor — though obviously it would have a home on the after-dinner cart — it certainly seems well-crafted.

A- / $25 / stoli.com

stoli chocolat razberi vodka Review: Stoli Chocolat Razberi Vodka

Recipes: Autumn Cocktails from Grey Goose

Some interesting-sounding seasonal concoctions in this list, courtesy of our friends at Grey Goose Vodka and mixologist Nick Mautone. Ah, fall!

grey goose cocktails Recipes: Autumn Cocktails from Grey GooseGrey Goose Balsamique

1 1/2 parts Grey Goose Vodka
3/4 part Crème Yvette
1/4 part balsamic vinegar
1 part pomegranate juice
3/4 part agave nectar
1 to 2 parts seltzer water

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add first five ingredients. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with seltzer and garnish with a fresh orange slice.

Grey Goose L’Orange Autumn Sage

1 1/4 parts Grey Goose Le Citron Flavored Vodka
1/2 part Green Chartreuse
2 one-inch pieces of fennel, diced
3 sage leaves
3/4 part agave nectar
1 part lemon juice
2 parts seltzer water

In a cocktail shaker, place the fennel, sage and agave nectar, muddle well. Add ice and the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with fennel fronds.

Grey Goose La Poire Golden Harvest

1 1/2 parts Grey Goose La Poire Flavored Vodka
1/2 part St. Germain Elderflower Cordial
1 part lemon juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1 tablespoon freshly shucked or leftover roasted corn

In a cocktail shaker, place the corn and agave nectar, muddle well. Add ice and the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and chili powder.

Review: Pur Spirits Pear Williams, Raspberry Vodka, and Bierbrand

Pür Spirits is based in a small village in Germany, so it makes sense that its artisinal liqueurs and other products, made from recipes handed down over the generations, are only just now making it to the U.S. At the present, the company offers six products for sale. We reviewed three. Notes follow.

Pur Spirits Pur Likor Williams – This Poire Williams is a classic expression of pear liqueur: The company says 35 pounds of pears go into every standard bottle. The flavor is authentic and expressive: Big pear character with that distinct crispness on the finish that distinguishes it from apples. A touch of astringency mars an otherwise moderate body, but on the whole this is as solid a pear liqueur as you’ll find on the market. 50 proof. A-

Pur Spirits Pur Geist Framboise Raspberry Flavored Vodka – A raspberry vodka, flavored with only wild raspberries, no sugar or syrups. Good raspberry flavor and the nose is spot-on, but as with many an unsweetened, flavored vodka, it’s got too much punch for drinking solo. The aftertaste is long and lasting, but the hard edge on the finish knocks it down a peg. 80 proof. B+

Pur Spirits Pur Likor Bierbrand – A spirit distilled from German marzen beer — aka malted barley — and aged in a cask made of chestnut wood. That makes this, essentially, a German rendition of single malt Scotch. The problem here is one of age. Based on the flavor profile, there really doesn’t seem to be any of it here, and traditional bierbrand actually isn’t aged at all. The light hand of wood doesn’t mellow out Pur’s version very much at all. There’s a slight vanilla tinge to the mid-palate, but the rest of the spirit, from start to finish, is largely rough-hewn white whiskey character. The funky aftertaste lingers and does not overly invite continued consumption. 84 proof. B-

each $39 / purspirits.com

Review: Square One Basil Vodka

This is one of those ideas that sounded really good when I read about it… and then the sample bottles arrived and they just sat there. Basil flavored vodka? Really? What the heck is that all about?

Square One makes a surprisingly good cucumber vodka, but cukes have a long tradition in cocktailing, dating back (at least) to the Pimm’s Cup. Basil, not so much. I smell basil and I want a pizza, not a drink.

Square One Basil is more of a Thai experience than an Italian one, and indeed it uses four basil varieties — Genovese, Thai, Lemon, and Sweet — in the mix. The impact is striking: Like a Southeast Asian curry, it offers sweet and spicy notes, with a distinct lemongrass character on the nose. The body is lightly peppery and offers clear, well, basil notes. It’s a bit like drinking a liquified, boozed-up pad gra pow gai. And by that I mean it’s better than you’re probably thinking.

Cocktails? Why not. Try it with things that use ginger, coconut, pineapple, and other eastern fruits and essences and see what happens.

80 proof.

B+ / $33 / squareoneorganicspirits.com

square one basil vodka Review: Square One Basil Vodka

Review: Hard Luck Candy Flavored Vodkas

Hard Luck Candy, from Michigan (Temperance, Michigan, actually!), doesn’t mess around with typical lemon, orange, or even coconut vodkas: It goes straight for the jugular, with four candy-inspired concoctions. All are 70 proof, distilled from grain, and, rest assured, give you more than your daily allowance of artificial coloring. Warning: These are all very sweet vodkas, designed for shots, dessert drinks, and frat parties. They are reviewed here not as substitutes for a post-tasting-menu digestif, but with their intended audience in mind.

Hard Luck Candy Orange Dream Vodka – Flavored with orange and vanilla, much like a Creamsicle. That’s a perfect descriptor for this infused spirit, and Hard Luck Candy hits it right on the nose, all the way down to the creamy, mouth-filling body. Easygoing and smooth. A-

Hard Luck Candy Lemon Drop Vodka – I spoke too soon: There is a lemon vodka, lemon drop, rather. Hard Luck gets the sourness just about right, but the antifreeze green/yellow color is off-putting and scary. Quite a harsh finish on this one, too. B-

Hard Luck Candy Red Fish Vodka – Just what you’re thinking, a shocking-red spirit that would taste a lot like cough syrup if it wasn’t so amazingly sweet. Again, an uncanny resemblance to Swedish Fish, but the nose is on the hard side. B

Hard Luck Candy Root Beer Barrel Vodka – Overwhelming root beer soda character on the nose and the tongue. Smooth and authentic, with cinnamon, licorice, and lots of sugar. Surprisingly smooth. I expect fans of actual root beer will be bowled over by this one (though I’m not the world’s biggest root beer fanatic). B+

about $20 each / hardluckvodkamichigan.com

hard luck candy vodka Review: Hard Luck Candy Flavored Vodkas

Review: Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka

You can keep your citrus, your chocolate, your Asian pear flavored vodkas. Sub Rosa strikes out for more uncommon ground, with two flavored spirits: Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka.

Crafted in Oregon and available in limited distribution domestically, these are unique vodkas unlike anything else you’ve ever tried. All natural, high-end stuff, as Sub Rosa notes, no essential oils are used in the infusion: This is just herbs and spices suspended in vodka. Both come in hot at 90 proof.

Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Flavored Vodka (Batch 6) – A curious color far unlike the wild orange of Boudier’s Saffron Gin, the light yellow/green color instead recalls Yellow Chartreuse. The nose: Surprisingly mild, vague spice character. On the palate, a shock to the senses: Completely savory, saffron, anise, and licorice notes — and none of the sweet finish, the norm for infused vodkas. The infusion includes far more than saffron — with cumin, coriander, and five other spices, this is closer to a gin than a flavored vodka, and I’d primarily suggest using it as a gin substitute. Not for the faint of heart, the savory character rumbles along with a long and lasting finish, fading away almost like a mild curry. I mean that in the best possible way. A- / $30

Sub Rosa Spirits Tarragon Flavored Vodka (Batch 5) – Slightly greener, with a clearer herbal character on the nose. Clear licorice character on the nose, and stronger on the body. (Fennel and mint are also used in the blend.) Tarragon is a relatively little-utilized herb, and that’s a shame. Here it offers the intrigue of a Thanksgiving meal, plus a return of some of that lightly sweet licorice kick in the end. Quite different than the Saffron vodka but equally delightful. A- / $30

subrosaspirits.com

sub rosa bottles Review: Sub Rosa Spirits Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka

Review: Spring44 Vodka and Gin

Spring44 (aka Spring 44) is a new line of vodka and gin out of Colorado. All are distilled five times from a multi-grain blend of wheat, rye, and corn (much like whiskey), filtered through a coconut husk filtration system, and blended with water from a 9,000-foot-high source.

We checked out all three of the distillery’s initial offerings. All are 80 proof.

Spring44 Vodka – I like this spirit a lot. A bracing nose offers light medicinal notes, and the body has astringency to spare. It is however balanced by just a touch of sweetness, giving it an interesting character while still living squarely in the realm of traditional vodka style. Spring44 isn’t a complicated vodka — it wears its medicinal character on its sleeve — but it is authentic and expressive. It’s a wonderful balance of old world and new. A-

Spring44 Honey Vodka – Kind of an odd choice for your first and only flavored vodka, but Spring44 obviously has a jones for honey flavor that it couldn’t ignore. Compared the the relatively restrained flavors of the straight vodka, the Honey version is huge and overwhelming. A light yellow hue indicates that plenty of honey goes into this blend, and while it isn’t immediately evident on the nose, it’s awfully big on the tongue. This honey notes here are earthy and, as is often the case with honey vodkas, on the funky side — not quite honey but not quite vodka, either. Where it lives is an odd middle ground between tradition and fun, and unlike the straight vodka, it doesn’t work as well. B [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Spring44 Gin – Spring44 uses 12 botanicals (including many Colorado natives) in this formula and does not reveal them. The character is also not entirely balanced, heavy on fruit flavors (I presume berries of various ilk are in the mix), with juniper coming up behind. Again, this just doesn’t work together the right way, both sweet and bitter but not in the way you might expect. The finish is off: A lingering flavor of berries left to macerate too long — a bit like an Eastern bloc fruit brandy — and not so much a gin. B-

about $22 each / spring44.com

spring44 vodka and gin Review: Spring44 Vodka and Gin

Review: Graham’s Texas Tea Flavored Vodka

When absinthe essentially went dark in 2009, it handed over the reins to a replacement in the fad liquor department: Tea-flavored vodkas. These bad boys just keep coming and, thankfully, each is just about as good as the last — a claim which absinthe was never able to make.

This sweet tea vodka from Austin, Texas has a milder nose than most, but the mouthfeel is huge and the taste is, again, authentic — this blend claiming Nilgiri black tea, turbinado sugar, and Hill Country spring water in the mix. Sure enough, the darker sugar notes come through after awhile — especially as the finish lingers. My only complaint is a bit more bite than most of the other vodkas of this ilk — but that’s almost splitting hairs. This is certainly  a quality product and a worthy part of the category — and cheap, too.

70 proof.

A- / $15 / treatyoakrum.com

grahams texas tea vodka Review: Grahams Texas Tea Flavored Vodka

Review: Burnett’s Whipped Cream Vodka

You read that right, and now you have proof that, yes, anything and everything short of asparagus has been used to flavor vodka.

Burnett’s is not exactly an artisan, Square One-style producer of delicately-flavored organic vodkas. It’s a mega-bottle shop best known for its pre-mixed cosmos and mojitos. Now, for its whopping 24th vodka flavor it has gone into the sweet shot: whipped cream.

The spirit, well, it smells exactly like whipped cream. Naturally flavored, it really fills the room when poured into a glass. As you well might expect, it is extremely sweet — on the edge of cloyingly so — but the taste, as with the nose, is authentic, sugary, and just like a fluffy puddle of whipped cream slathered atop your raspberry Napoleon. Outside of chocolate-based dessert drinks I have no idea what you would do with this — the cocktails I tried with it were, to put it mildly, undrinkable — but if you need to put whipped cream flavor into an alcoholic concoction, well, look no further.

Meanwhile, my mind is wandering…. Mmmm, asparagus vodka.

70 proof.

B / $10 / burnettsvodka.com

burnetts whipped cream vodka Review: Burnetts Whipped Cream Vodka

Review: Skyy Infusions Blood Orange

Skyy already makes a fine citrus vodka, so why mess with things by introducing a Blood Orange version? Because it’s even better.

The juicy blood Orange is the king of citrus fruits, and sure enough it makes for a mighty fruit-infused vodka, too. This one if amazingly fruit-forward, really lush with authentic orange notes: Tart and very sweet. That slight hint of strawberry and pineapple adds to the experience, giving this an almost tropical bent to it.

Flavored vodkas are usually hardly anything to get excited about, but this one’s worth stocking.

A / $18 / skyy.com

skyy blood orange vodka Review: Skyy Infusions Blood Orange

Review: Absolut SF Limited Edition Vodka

For its fifth city-themed, limited edition vodka, our friends at Absolut have brought us something awfully close to home: Absolut SF (because presumably “San Francisco” was too long for the bottle).

Three fruity infusions are added to this special bottling: grape, papaya, and dragon fruit. No huge explanation for the flavoring agents is offered; however, grape is obvious and the papaya and dragon fruit, I am guessing, are a nod to the city’s heavy Far East, Southeast Asian, and Hispanic population. I’d have gone with a little lychee in there, but that’s just my bias.

As for the spirit itself, the grape is hard to miss, but it’s dialed back quite a bit vs. the over-the-top jelly-like vodkas that dominate the liquor store shelves.  Papaya and dragon fruit are elusive but come across more clearly on the nose. The body unfortunately is a bit muddier than that, with the tropical notes at war with the powerful grape essence. Some inharmonious, woodsy flavors, common with all Absolut bottlings, are evident as you sip it.

While the cityscape motif on the front of the bottle is eye-catching, I’m less enamored of the day-glo protest signs that serve as a backdrop (etched on the reverse of the bottle so it’s seen through the glass). I know all too well our activist heritage here, but I don’t want to have to think about it while I’m drinking.

80 proof.

B+ / $20 / absolut.com

absolut sf Review: Absolut SF Limited Edition Vodka

Review: Firefly Skinny Tea Flavored Vodka

How do you cut the calorie level from a flavored vodka? Throttle down the alcohol level and cut out the sugar.

The first idea is probably not a bad thing. The second one is what kills the deal. Firefly Skinny Tea opts for artificial sweetener instead of sugar, and to say that mars the “sweet tea” effect is an understatement. It starts out all right, with a big brewed tea nose and character, but then the artifice comes on, coating the mouth and leaving a cloying finish. I couldn’t shake the aftertaste — literally for several minutes I was tasting this gummy, rubbery gunk that I just couldn’t get out of my mouth. The only solution: Another sip. That’s a vicious cycle you got right there.

With a mixer like lemonade this might be more palatable, but as it stands, it, like so many things in life, it’s a tradeoff that just isn’t worth it. What are you saving for your trouble: In a 1.5-ounce shot, a whopping 27 calories. Kick out a crouton instead and stick with the Firefly classic.

60 proof.

C / $18 / fireflyvodka.com

Fitrefly Skinny Tea vodka Review: Firefly Skinny Tea Flavored Vodka