Vodka goes in and out of fashion, but not its popularity with drinkers. It remains the biggest-selling spirit in the U.S, and even the Scots drink more vodka than whisky. In the U.S., according to the Code of Federal Regulations, vodka is defined as “neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” Nevertheless, there are subtle differences between vodka made from potatoes and from grain, for example, two of the most common base products for distilling into vodka. (In recent years, a wide variety of other bases have been used to make vodka.) Infused vodka has usually been infused with natural products (e.g. real lemons), while flavored vodka can mean it contains either natural or artificial flavorings. Rules regarding the acceptable strength of vodka differ slightly around the world. Within the European Union, vodkas can be bottled at as low as 75 proof, while in most countries outside the European Union, and in the U.S., vodka must be at least 80 proof.

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Review: Beattie’s Potato and Sweet Potato Vodkas

By Jonathan Glover | August 24, 2023 |

  The designation “farm-to-table” will always receive a Bourdainian side-eye from me. It’s one of those oft-used, food-adjacent phrases like “craft,” “handmade,” and “gourmet” that are intended to evoke a specific feeling while not necessarily meaning much of anything at all. And so, here we have Beattie’s Distillers, whose slogan prominently displayed on the front…

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Sakagura NYC

At NYC’s Sakagura, Shochu Is Poised to Explode in the U.S.

By David Tao | August 10, 2023 |

While sake has long been more familiar to American palates, shochu is finally ready for its moment in the sun. Unlike sake, which is a brewed rice wine, shochu is Japan’s native distilled spirit, with remarkable utility for consumption neat, on the rocks, in cocktails, and beyond. And at a proof point normally hovering between…

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Review: Supergay Vodka

By Robert Lublin | June 25, 2023 |

June is LGBTQ Pride month, and I can’t think of a brand of spirits that announces its pride more audaciously than Supergay vodka. The brand opened in 2018 and donates a percentage of the profits from every bottle to organizations benefiting the LGBTQ+ community. Their vodka, distilled in a copper pot still in upstate New…

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Review: Industrious Spirit Company Ostreida Oyster Vodka

By Christopher Null | June 20, 2023 |

I’ve long known how well oysters and vodka go together, but I’ve always had them served separately. Until now… The Industrious Spirit Company’s (ISCO) Ostreida is vodka made in Rhode Island, with oysters used as part of the distillation process. Officially “a spirit made with oysters,” it’s made from scratch with a 100% corn distillate…

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Review: Zakuska Vodka

By Christopher Null | May 14, 2023 |

Zakuska Vodka was pitched to me as “a simple, no-B.S. vodka served as a chilled shot.” No flavors, no gimmicks. It launched only in 2022, and despite the Baltic-sounding name, it’s actually made in Columbus, Ohio, distilled from red winter wheat and corn, and bottled — noticeably — unfiltered, rendering it slightly translucent. The label’s…

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Review: Snowdrop Vodka

By Christopher Null | May 12, 2023 |

Our prior outing with Vermont’s Saxtons River Distillery saw us reviewing the operation’s top shelf Perc Coffee Liqueur, way back in 2014. Now we’re back with less exotic fare: A vodka made from a corn-based mash that’s put through a vacuum distillation process before bottling. A portion of the proceeds from sales are earmarked to…

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Review: Linden Leaf Organic Molecular Vodka and Gin

By Christopher Null | March 12, 2023 |

“Molecular” always scares me when I see it on a spirits product, as it usually implies “chemicals” instead of actual craftsmanship. With Linden Leaf, “molecular” appears to mean something a bit different, as the company was founded by three Cambridge, UK-based scientists who are creating “spirits on a molecular level, actually using their science background…

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Review: Kastra Elion Vodka

By Christopher Null | February 20, 2023 |

Kastra Elion is a “premium sipping vodka” made from Greek olives (“and grains”). While produced in Greece, it’s bottled in El Segundo, California. (Update: The brand informs us that bottling has now moved to Greece as well.) The white ceramic bottle, accented with blue paint, makes for a great alternative to the usual etched/frosted glass you’ll…

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Review: Black Infusions Vodkas – Gold Apricot, Dark Cherry, and Black Fig

By Christopher Null | December 20, 2022 |

Black Infusions is based in Bend, Oregon, and their focus is singular: Making fruit-infused vodkas that are free of artificial colors, sugars, and flavors. Each vodka has just two ingredients, vodka and the fruit noted on the label — in this case, apricot, cherry, or fig. Given the depth of color of the spirits, those…

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A Guided Tour of Shochu from Honkaku Spirits

By Christopher Null | December 7, 2022 |

Christopher Pellegrini is my go-to expert on shochu. He’s lived in Japan for 20 years, has written a book about the spirit, and recently started a company, Honkaku Spirits, to export the stuff to the U.S. As Pellegrini noted during a recent, lively Zoom tasting from Japan, where we tasted 8 of his company’s products,…

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