Review: Smirnoff Vodka

Review: Smirnoff Vodka

Tomorrow the latest James Bond movie hits the big screen, and Smirnoff is taking the opportunity to remind us of Bond’s love for vodka: He’ll be drinking the stuff in Quantum of Solace, and Smirnoff is even putting out a special Smirnoff Black vodka branded with the 007 logo, to be sold only in duty-free shops for a limited time.

I didn’t get a bottle of the Black, but the company did send a 007 cocktail shaker plus a sample of its standard red-label product just to remind us all what James will be drinking shaken, not stirred, and why.

Smirnoff has always been my choice for an entry-level vodka, but I haven’t had it in a long while — distracted by crystal heads and blood red stuff. What fun to rediscover it.

Ah, Smirnoff goes down like an old friend. It’s got that mild sweetness than many of the super-premium vodkas exhibit, plus a good punch of spicy bitterness from the grain used as the base for fermentation. It’s reasonably well balanced and, at 80 proof, doesn’t burn a bit. I’ve noted some heavy charcoal notes in the Russian classic in the past, but in this most recent tasting, I found those flavors to be wholly absent. Put simply, you could sub in Smirnoff for anyone who called a $30 vodka in their martini and very few would know the difference.

Smirnoff has become one of the liquor world’s most successful spirits, and it’s generally neck and neck with Bacardi for the title of the world’s best-selling spirit brand. For such a mass-produced product to maintain quality this high, well, it’s no wonder Bond is still sipping it even though he can afford far more expensive stuff.

80 proof.


Smirnoff Vodka




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Justin on November 25, 2008 at 2:13 am

    This site rates Smirnoff as A-, but Chopin and Ketel One get lesser ratings? Unbelievable.

  2. Christopher Null on November 25, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Price <> quality, especially in the vodka world. Don’t be suckered.

  3. Moakler on November 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Smirnoff rocks, esp at 12 bucks!

  4. Geoff on December 26, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Note: Smirnoff Red in the US is different than in the UK. The UK version is 37.5% ABV while the US version is 40% ABV, so clearly these have to be judged independently.

    Also, Smirnoff Black in the UK — which is outstanding — appears to be different than the 007 bottling. This is the version that I was familiar with while living in the UK:

    I wish I could find it in the US, though I’m reasonably happy with Prarie, Tito’s and Grey Goose.

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