How does Taaka Vodka stack up against up a good Russian Vodka and other premium vodka brands like Grey Goose, Kettle One (ketel one) or Svedka Vodka? Let us take the Taaka Taste Test and see. First off, let me make it clear that this review is for typical vodka drinkers. That is, the majority of vodka-drinking Americans who think it is either a cool-aid, orange-juice mixer or for martinis. Obviously, there are real connoisseurs out there who appreciate the subtleties and distinctive flavors of the very best Russian vodka which even goes beyond a dry vodka martini. The first premium brand of Vodka I ever tried was Ketel One (Kettle One) and I will admit I wasn't experienced enough to appreciate the higher price tag. Thus, this testing is aimed at the typical vodka martini and mixed vodka drinkers. For those of you who enjoy Cranberry-Grey Goose, screwdrivers and other sweet and sour, mixed vodka drinks, the results of this review may be even more revealing than to your average martini drinker who uses few other ingredients to distort it's pure flavor. The question is, have you been brainwashed into paying 4 to 5 times more for say, Stolichnaya, Belvedere, Grey Goose or other premium vodka brands, or is it really worth the perception of improved taste that advertisers continue to push on you? Understand, that a true vodka snob would not necessarily waste an expensive bottle of vodka on many of these drinks some of us are mixing with this expensive alcohol. So, is this something any of us really need to do? My impression from the opinions and comments of my own friends and acquaintances is that they believe it is necessary to avoid cheap vodka to enjoy their favorite cocktails. Is this really the case, and by whose taste buds shall we decide? Okay, I once tested dog-food, I think I can handle drinking a few vodka martinis. I should also mention that I've been making and drinking Taaka vodka Martinis for two years. In case you haven't deduced this by now, Taaka is a very cheap brand of vodka. Can cheap be good? Let's find out:
Vodka Brands Sampled
For this experiment, I choose two popular, more expensive brands, one popular medium-priced selection and compared all three of them to my standby favorite, Taaka. Here is what I chose:
- Grey Goose: Popular, expensive, highly-advertised import Vodka from France.
- Absolut: Popular, mid-priced, highly-advertised import Vodka from Sweden.
- Taaka: Dirt cheap vodka used in my martinis the last couple of years.
When I say, 'high-priced' or 'mid-priced', I should note that it is in comparison to the reviewed subject vodka brand, Taaka. For instance a .750 Liter bottle of Grey Goose costs around $30.00. A 1.75 Liter bottle of Taaka can be had for just $7.99! Yes, that's right. Over twice the volume of vodka for less than 1/3rd the price. That's enough extra martinis to make you wish they sold Taaka olives to go with them. Stoli and Absolut are around $20 for a .75 Liter Bottle.
Vodka Testing Criteria
Cranberry and Grey Goose sounds so much hipper, trendier and tastier than Taaka and Grey Goose, but let's remember what cranberry tastes like. It's flavor is strong, sour and bitter enough to disguise the taste of a glass of Clorox. For that reason, cranberry and vodka is probably not the best way to evaluate brands of vodka, and I think the vast majority of vodka snobs who suck back shots at a time, singing and dancing Russian folks songs with precision and clarity, would agree with me. On the other hand, the majority of us aren't drinking our vodka that way and probably can't remember any Russian folk songs either - at least not until we've had a few too many drinks. For that reason, the best test of vodka quality means how it tastes in its very most popular, subtle, slightly-altered state: The vodka martini; shaken vigorously in a stainless steel shaker of ice cubes and served in one of those snob-like, stemmed glasses with olives. To be even more credible with my testing procedures, I poured each of the vodka brands into their own glass and observed their aromas before sipping and tasting them in their non-chilled, pure form. I then mixed each of them separately in their own stainless steel shaker of five ice cubes and poured into individual martini glasses, side by side. Before inserting olives, I sampled each of them twice. For the final test, I dropped a couple of olives into each of the martini glasses, took them to the table, sat down, relaxed and enjoyed each of them by alternating sips at a time. Occasionally, I had my wife try each of them in between sips of her scotch Rob-Roy. So, now you know the science and procedures, let's get to the results.
Vodka Brands Taste Test Results
I thought all three of the vodkas shared similar aromas. Nothing from their individual aromas indicated to me which of them would have the best taste. Upon taking straight sips of them one at a time, the Absolute stood out as having the most distinct flavor; a crisp, almost plastic-like taste. The Grey Goose was least flavorful, but light and rather sweet. The Taaka vodka had a bit more edge or bite but not enough to tip off the price tag. I was encouraged by the first warm sip. After shaking them with ice and tasting each of them without olives, it became even more difficult to become convinced of any conclusions about price vs. quality. I was pretty sure the Taaka was a tad more bitter than the rest of them, but not enough to keep me from wanting to drink the rest of the martini. I dropped olives into each of them, and proceeded to the final stage. I sat at the dinner table and took my time with each of them, going back and forth, trying to convince myself that the slightly sweeter, pure and cleaner taste of the Grey Goose was enough to justify the eight-fold increase in cost. Taaka vodka seems to sit on the middle of my tongue's taste buds for a moment longer, where-as the Grey Goose seemed to touch the tip of my tongue with a bit of sweetness and nearly disappeared in flavor as I swallowed it. Grey Goose was the lightest. The Absolut fell somewhere in between, yet continued to have that plastic-like taste which wasn't entirely unpleasant, but distinct from the rest. Using my wife as a blind-taste subject, I had her compare sips of the most expensive Grey Goose, to the very cheapest Taaka. I asked her which one she thought was the Grey Goose. She chose Taaka! As I got to the bottom of the martini glasses, and made my way towards the salt and tanginess of the olives, it became even more difficult to be convinced I should pay more for any of the other three vodka brands. For dirty martini drinkers, I imagined that the four brands would be even more difficult to distinguish from each other. Having drank the better part of three martinis, my imagination buzzed in bewilderment over the millions of dollars that must have been poured into bitter glasses of cranberry juice over the last few years years due to those persuasive Grey Goose ads and TV commercials. The power of suggestion is every bit as powerful as three martinis...but far more expensive. My recommendation is this: Next time you think you need to buy an expensive vodka to go with that screw driver, cranberry or martini, Taaka yourself out of it. The ratings results don't justify the price. I realize that no review on Vodka taste testing can be complete without testing a real Russian Vodka. I will save that for a future review update. Meanwhile, here is the way I rank the three vodka martinis made with Grey Goose, Absolut and Taaka.
Vodka Brand Ratings
- Grey Goose: 88
- Absolut: 82
- Taaka: 81