Popular Bourbon Whiskey Brands Reviewed and Rated

Bourbon Whiskey Brands
Bourbon Whiskey Brands

Whiskey or Bourbon?

Before I get to the four mentioned bourbon whiskey brands, I would like to explain how I got here. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. This is important because distilleries in Colorado seem to be popping up everywhere. Most of what I’ve had in Colorado is not bourbon whiskey brands. In the past year, I’ve visited Leopold Bros and Stranahan here in Colorado. I became curious what the buzz was all about. The whiskey I tasted at the two aforementioned places didn’t seem all that special to me and are horrendously expensive compared to smooth, refined Kentucky bourbon. Of course, the big difference is that I was comparing these whiskies to bourbon which they are not. When it comes to smoothness and immediate enjoyment, bourbon seems to give a higher bang-for-the-buck. So, I wanted to explore a little bit with actual Colorado bourbon just to see how it compares to other bourbons in the same price range. This is no easy task but as I just mentioned, Colorado whiskey is expensive! In the process, I became curious about some of these other types of whiskey. I did some research on Proof66.com which is an excellent primer for learning about the different types of whiskey. I will not bore you with the education on what makes it what it is because they can do that much better than me. Besides bourbon, there is blended whiskey, single malt whiskey, Irish whisky, rye whiskey, and single malt scotch whisky just to name a few. So, I picked up a bottle or two from three of these categories in this past month.  I will get to these other types of whiskies later. For now, I would like to compare and review a few of the bourbons that I’ve tried most recently. These are my own bourbon reviews. You can rate each of them, yourself, at the end of the article.

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Best Tequila for Margaritas. Is Price really so Important?


Best Tequila for MargaritasIn a perfect world, the best tequila for margaritas would be the one that tastes best by itself. Enjoying those kinds of margaritas on a consistent basis, however, is outside most of our budgets. When searching for the best tequila for margaritas, one key is to find the brand that tastes the best at an affordable price. There are other considerations for margarita drinkers.  While we would all agree that smoothness is important, the taste and character of tequila are subjective things that may or may not add to the overall enjoyment of a margarita. It might be that the best sipping tequila in the world has qualities and characteristics that are too bold to make the perfect margarita. It is also likely that the unique taste of world class tequilas is completely lost and unappreciated.  Before I provide my Best Tequila for Margaritas list, I would like to provide some general criteria.

 

Rating Criteria

The Best Tequila for Margaritas

I have come up with three categories that I think are important for margarita drinkers:

  • Smoothness – A smooth tasting tequila obviously makes a smooth tasting Margarita.
  • Price – For the vast majority of us, it doesn’t make sense to use expensive sipping tequilas for Margaritas.
  • Neutrality – This category sort of works hand-in-hand with price. Very pricey tequila full of bold character and flavor will either be underappreciated or over-shadow the margarita mix. Speaking of margarita mix, I believe the simpler, the better. I will share with you my own recipe.

 

Recipe used to rate Best Tequilas for Margs

Even an affordable and good tequila will go to waste in a bad mix. I am not a fan of the overly sweet or sour cook-aid type mixes that most restaurants serve. I use three simple ingredients: 1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice, 2 parts tequila, and a splash of Contreau or Stirrings triple sec.   I like to shake the ingredients vigorously for about 30-40 seconds and serve up (or neat) in a glass with salt around the rim. One thing to beware of is that a bad lime can spoil everything. Good, fresh limes are usually shinier on the outside with bright green color and have a thick skin when they are sliced. Getting a good lime can be tricky, but it is well worth taking the time to find a grocer where they are consistently good. A sour lime will pretty much drown out everything that is good about the drink, including the tequila.

About my Tequila Ratings

I’ve decided to use a few of the familiar tequilas that I’ve tried and rated here on Product Review Ratings. Each tequila is rated in each criteria on a scale of 1 – 10. Of my two favorites, I will warn you that the Rancho Alegre does give me a headache. I didn’t think it would be fair to use that criteria in my ratings since so far, I am the only one I know that complains of this unwelcome phenomenon. I have not done nearly enough research to make this a thorough review, but hopefully these ratings on the best tequila for margaritas will lead you in the right direction.

Best Tequila for Margaritas

Rated by Smoothness, Price, and Neutrality

Tequila Smoothness Price (750ML) Neutrality RATING
El Ultimo Agave Reposado  8 9 ($14.00 – $15.00) 8 83%
Rancho Alegre Plata 7 9 ($13.00 – $15.00) 9 83%
Rancho Alegre Reposado 7 9 ($13.00 – $15.00) 8 80%
Olmeca Altos Plata 8 8 ($16.00 – $18.00) 8 80%
Olmeca Altos Reposado 8 8 ($16.00 – $18.00) 8 80%
El Charro Reposado 7 9 ($14.00 – $17.00) 8 80%
Camarena Reposado 7 8 ($17.00 – $19.00) 8 77%
El Zarco Silver 8 7 ($14.00 – $17.00) 7 73%

 

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El Ultimo Agave Tequila. Low Price, but how Good?


El Ultimo Agave Tequila
El Ultimo Agave

El Ultimo Agave Tequila joins my short list of reviews on excellent tequilas that most of us can afford. I bought the 750ml Reposado El Ultimo Agave Tequila at a local liquor store for around $14.00. This puts it in the same price range of one our favorite marg-making standby’s over the last couple of summers, Olmeca Altos Tequila. The price on Olmeca ranges from $27 – $31.00 at my local liquor stores for a 1.75 liter bottle. Another favorite, which is far cheaper than both of these is, Rancho Alegre. All three of these tequilas are 100% agave. There are a couple of reasons, I prefer the El Ultimo Agave to either of these other bargain-priced tequilas:

Taste Comparison

El Ultimo Agave Tequila

Compared straight-up to Olmeca Altos Tequila, both my wife and I preferred El Ultimo De Agave in a blind, taste-test. I was really surprised. Both are smooth tequilas that mix well for margaritas, but the El Ultimo Agave just seems to have more flavor and character.  I noticed hints of honey, fig, banana, butter, orange and ginger. The Olmeca Altos just doesn’t offer as much flavor. For the money, I’d rather pay a little extra for the El Ultimo Agave tequila. Other tequila websites seem to agree with my opinion on El Ultimo Agave. Users and tequila critic snobs alike, have rated it very highly. I did not have the Reposado version of Rancho Alegre, but while I was in the mood, I did do another comparison.

Rancho Alegre Silver vs Olmeca Altos Tequila

A 1.75 bottle of Rancho Alegre is only around $21.00 and for taste-alone, remains the best deal there is. In another blind taste-test, my wife and I much preferred the cheaper Rancho Alegre over the Olmeca Altos tequila and I suspect it would give the El Ultimo Agave a run for its money if I had the same, two types to compare. However, this is a moot point for me. It has been painfully proven to me time and time again, that Rancho Alegre gives me a headache. My wife doesn’t have this problem, so it could just be me. If you haven’t tried Rancho Alegre, I encourage you to try it. Once the secret gets out on a good, cheap tequila, they become much easier to find, though the price tends to rise accordingly. At any rate, I will continue to try bargain-priced, 100% agave tequilas as I find them. The question is where can you find it?

Where to Buy El Ultimo Agave Tequila

Here is where things get tricky. El Ultimo Agave Tequila is listed as an uncommon tequila on the UndertheLabel website. I located El Ultimo Agave at Sams Warehouse Liquor in Westminster, Colorado. Though Sams is one of my favorite liquor stores, they are not in the most convenient location for me. Sams had an excellent selection of tequilas and trying a new one for the first time is a difficult choice. It turns out I made the right choice after fondling bottle after bottle of unknown tequila brands. The problem is, I have not been able to find El Ultimo Agave in any of the other liquor stores near my local neighborhood. If you can find El Ultimo Agave tequila at your local liquor store, I highly recommend it.

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Deep Eddy Vodka

deep eddy vodkaMy purchase of a 1.75 Liter of Deep Eddy Vodka at my favorite local liquor store was more of an informed decision than an impulsive one. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-free diet. Since some vodkas are made from wheat and other glutenous grains, they are likely to contain some small level of gluten. The dietary advice for those who suffer from Celiac disease is that distilled liquors like Vodka, even though they are made from grains, are probably okay to drink. How is this possible? Apparently, grain-based vodkas lose most of their gluten in the distillation process. There is such small amounts of vodka in grain-based alcohols that most celiac health experts believe it is harmless for persons who suffer from Celiac disease. Unfortunately, not all sufferers of celiac disease are the same. Even a microscopic amount of gluten for my niece could have catastrophic consequences. For me, just about any type of alcohol probably doesn’t pose much of a threat, but I decided to go as gluten-free as possible. Deep Eddy Vodka is 100% certified gluten-free. The box boasts the claim that Deep Eddy is distilled 10 times and 100% natural. But, the absence of gluten was only one reason to buy Deep Eddy. How about the taste of the vodka?

Deep Eddy is a Bargain

The price I paid for a 1.75 Liter of Deep Eddy was $19.99. Granted, my local liquor store is full of great deals, but Deep Eddy would still be a bargain at any store. Like many other American vodkas, Deep Eddy is made in Austin, Texas and is 80% / 40-Proof alcohol and distilled from potatoes. The bottle I bought came came with one other perk: It was packaged in a nicely boxed gift-set which included two logo’d glass jars with the Deep Eddy logo. Those big jars, suggest, that one might use their vodka to make those big fruity  foo-foo drinks with lime and/or lemonade.  If you’ve read my numerous other vodka reviews, you realize that I would have preferred a couple of martini glasses since that is the way I normally drink vodka. That’s okay, I have plenty of martini glasses and the Deep Eddy jars make a nice addition to our assortment of bar glasses.  Deep Eddy was mainly purchased to replace my empty favorite bottle of Blue Ice Vodka which was also made from potatoes and certified gluten-free. Blue Ice has been the standard by which I judge all other vodkas. This one, however, was a few bucks cheaper. Could Deep Eddy be as good?

Taste Test

Deep Eddy proves once again that you don’t have to pay good money for good vodka. I’ve paid more for other brands that aren’t as good. Belvedere and Grey Goose immediately come to mind. I poured the first taste into my glass and tried it at room temperature. The initial taste was so smooth and light that I thought I had accidentally mixed water into my vodka. The finish went down like vanilla sugar water. I dried out the glass and tried it again and got the exact same outstanding result.  Deep Eddy is very clean, sterile, and somewhat of a sweet vodka. It might be a little too sweet for me to say it is my favorite over Blue Ice, but I would certainly buy it again at the great price of $20.00.  If you’re a vodka enthusiast that likes ethanol taste that is so prevalent in many other vodkas like say, Sobieski, Deep Eddy might not be the best choice for you. I think the ethanol gives it an illusion of air, lightness and carbonation that some people like. To me, it tastes like the inside of a rubber balloon. I never did care for that flavor. I can overlook the sweetness especially when olives are added.  I mixed my first martini with Deep Eddy by vigorously shaking it inside a stainless steel shaker of ice and adding  two Mezzetta olives to the glass.  When my wife saw the interesting box on the counter, she too, decided she wanted to try a vodka drink rather than her usual Rob Roy. I made her a martini with ice and lime juice, which is very appropriate for a hot summer evening. The power of suggestion is just one of the strengths of this brand. The main strength is its taste and Deep Eddy Vodka makes one of the best martinis I’ve had since, well, the last drop of the Blue Ice left my house.

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Olmeca Altos Tequila




Olmeca Altos TequilaIf you don’t want to pay good money for good tequila, you will want to read this full, review on Olmeca Altos Tequila. Before I get into the specifics of the brand and its qualities, I want to make a point about ambiance. Let’s face it, when it comes to enjoying a good tequila, atmosphere makes a huge difference. I think the reason many of us are so fond of Tequila in the first place is that the taste reminds us of our most recent vacation where we once enjoyed refreshing, margaritas near a crystal clear swimming pool or white-sand beach in the middle of an ordinary work week in the middle of an ordinary January day. During those cold winter months, if we’re lucky enough to make that trip to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel or the many other dozens of beautiful vacation spots of warmth and sunshine, the taste of a fresh, lime-squeezed margarita will leave us with an indelible memory of relaxation and care-free paradise. Obviously, even the best tasting bottle of tequila in the world won’t replace the enjoyment we get from a week of paradise, but it goes a long way in improving our attitude,  even if it is only for the memories. So, for this reason, I have to be honest by admitting that my most recent review of Olmeca Altos tequila is a bit influenced by the beautiful weather and surroundings in which it was enjoyed.

Olmeca Altos Plata is Perfect for Cocktails

Olmeca Altos PlataThe bottle pictured above is of the Olmeca Altos Plata 100% blue agave tequila. As you can see by the photo of the empty bottle, the very last drop was enjoyed in the cocktails pictured above. A May, 70-degree, calm, sunny, early evening in Arvada, Colorado on a southern-exposure deck with a nice view is about as close as you can get to being on a beach in Mexico in January. So, I have to confess that my review, here, may be slightly biased by the outstanding climate, good feelings and vibes of my immediate surroundings where I enjoyed making this critical analysis. For starters, let me state the obvious: Olmeca Altos Plata is a very smooth liquor – much smoother than any bargain-priced tequila I’ve ever tried. There is no need to drown its flavor with sugary lime-aid mixes. The Plata tequila is actually good enough to be sipped on its own. This is an exceptionally smooth tequila which easily rivals some of the more popular brands which cost twice as much or more. Don Julio and Petron, both come to mind. While I am a big fan of Don Julio, I think Patron is an over-rated brand with a big marketing budget. To be honest, I don’t think it is even as good as, Olmeca Altos. In fact, I don’t think I would even pay 3-times the price for Don Julio knowing how good this one is.  If you’re a true tequila aficionado, don’t expect the Altos Plata to give you those over-tones, substance and character of more expensive, award-winning brands. However, this tequila definitely gives you that full, sweet taste of agave nectar. I also note a fair hint of white pepper, vanilla and just a hint of smoke. The initial taste has a it of a burn, but it quickly tapers off to a very sweet and smooth agave finish. This is the perfect tequila for dry mixers such as the cocktails pictures above. Here is the recipe in case you’d like it:

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Flor De Cana Extra Dry Rum




Flor De Cana Extra Dry RumThe hot days of our extended summer in Arvada, Colorado caused me to try Flor De Cana Extra Dry Rum for the first time. I’m normally not much of a rum drinker, but the thought of mint, lime and rum in Mojitos sounds great during the warmer months of summer. A few weeks ago, I skimped at a bar and paid $1.00 less for the Mojito made with the cheaper Cruzan Rum over the pricier Flor De Cana Extra Dry 4 Year. That turned out to be a good decision. Here’s a dirty, little secret about expensive alcohol that the bar business doesn’t want you to know.

Don’t Waste Good Extra Dry Rum in Sugary Mixed Drinks

Mixed and sugary drinks like Mojitos don’t need an expensive rum to be enjoyed. In fact, you would be throwing your money away if you did. I decided the typical Mojito recipe with simple syrup is way too sugary for me. I prefer the drinks that are less sweet and dry so I can appreciate the actual spirits. Spearmint or peppermint leaves are sweet enough on their own and it is much healthier to forego all that unneeded sugar. Here is a way to make a fantastic, healthy Mojito using all natural ingredients.

Mojito Recipe Using Flor De Cana Extra Dry Rum

When using all natural ingredients, the quality of the spirit  brand becomes makes a noticeable difference in the character, smoothness and flavor of the drink.  Here is how I make a Mojito with three and only three ingredients: Lime, Mint Leaves and Flor De Cana Extra Dry Rum. Cut into a lime and squeeze a couple of slices into your stainless steel shaker along with a few mint leaves. Add about 2 jiggers of Flor De Cana Extra Dry Rum and add a cup of crushed ice. Shake like crazy and pour into a martini glass. Add a sprig of fresh mint and slice of lime for garnish.  You will enjoy the heck out of sipping these on a hot summer day. And unlike, other, overly sweet mixed drinks, the brand of rum does indeed make a huge difference.  Now, onto my review.

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Best Triple Sec

Best Triple SecThe best triple sec is one that doesn’t cost a fortune and won’t ruin a good margarita. So, where can you get a great bottle of triple sec that won’t cost you an arm and a leg? Triple sec is basically an orange liqueur which is often a popular compliment to margaritas.   Unfortunately, many of the cheap brands of triple sec I’ve tried do more damage to margaritas than good. Gran Marnier  and Contreau are costlier liqueurs. I’ve never cared for the flavor of Gran Marnier in Margaritas. I think it makes them taste soapy which coincidentally is the same problem with cheaper brands of triple sec. Contreau is a great liqueur which compliments almost any mixed drink, but who can afford it? Surely, there must be a good compromise when it comes to finding a better Triple Sec, right?

Don’t Ruin a Good Marg with a Cheap Triple Sec

I’ve experimented with inexpensive brands of triple sec such as Hiram’s, Finest Call and DeKuyper, but none of them help make a better margarita. In fact they make it worse. I kept wondering why I couldn’t get a good marg even with a good quality, 100% blue agave tequila.  I don’t actually believe in using expensive brands of liquor like tequila for mixed drinks, but there are several good ones that don’t cost an arm and a leg that make infinitely better tasting margaritas. For that reason, I was determined to find the best triple sec at an affordable price.

Stirrings Triple Sec – All Natural

When it comes to getting the most-bang-for-the-buck, Stirrings is the best triple sec I’ve ever tried. Actually what makes Stirrings better is that it has less – less of what makes those cheaper triple sec brands so unappealing. As it’s label implies, Stirrings is all-natural. There is none of that soapy taste that I’ve noticed with cheaper brands. Stirrings is a 100% natural triple sec made from sun-ripened oranges. The moment I opened the bottle,  I could tell Stirrings was far superior to the cheaper brands.

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El Charro Tequila

El Charro TequilaEl Charro Tequila is an extremely affordable Reposado made from 100% agave nectar. I don’t know about you, but when I find a 750 ML bottle of 100% Agava tequila for under $15.00, I buy it right off the shelf with no questions asked. The El Charro Reposado was only $13.98 at my local, Westminster Total Beverage Liquor store, which is a fabulous place, by the way, for discovering affordable brands of tequila. There were a couple of other choices I considered before I spotted the El Charro tequila which was labeled, 100% PURO DE AGAVE.  One of them happened to be my wife’s previous favorite tequila, Epsolon. Epsolon Reposado tequila normally sells for around $20.00, but it was only $17.98 at Westminster Beverage and the shelf was adorned with a very impressive rating of 92 points. I agree with my wife that Epsolon is a decent Tequila for the price, but I’m not sure I agree with the expert rating. Perhaps, it is good marketing and public relations to get these ratings from the so-called tequila snobs.

The shelf holding the El Charro Tequila came with no such rating label, but at $14.00, there is very little risk in trying it. Many times before, I’ve bought inexpensive, 100% Pure Agave tequila and have been very impressed with it. Tres Alegres Blanco and Rancho Alegre (both Silver and Reposado) are a couple of great bargain-priced tequilas that come to mind. These tequilas became a couple of my staple brands for making margaritas. Only two problems: The liquor store stopped carrying the Tres Alegres and I’ve been able to find it elsewhere at an equally low price. And, the Rancho Allegre gave me a headache for some odd reason.  So far, no signs of a headache from El Charro, but is it any good?

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Kru-82 Vodka

Kru-82 Vodka
The Review


Kru-82 VodkaAs I write this review, I have no idea if Kru-82 vodka is from France or Holland – or both. My bottle clearly says that Kru-82 is distilled in France. Other reviews mention that it comes from Holland. Either way, this was an impulse purchase for me. I was leaving my Costco liquor store and spotted this 1.75 Liter bottle of vodka the very first time. The bottle even comes with a 200ML metal flash which the cashier told me was completely filled with vodka. Also, there was a tag attached the Kru bottle, giving it a 92 rating. Sadly, I cannot remember which publication gave Kru-82 this lofty rating and I have lost the tag. How could I be so careless?
Like every other new vodka I try, it is solely for the purpose of making martinis and proving to myself whether or not I can ever be convinced that it is worth paying more for something other than Taaka. Believe me, I’ve tried plenty of vodkas that are under $25 for a 1.75 and much better than Taaka. Ruskova, Svedka, Superia and Fris are a few that come to mind. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the smoothness and other flavors of these vodkas, I just don’t see the value in paying more for what I consider to be a very plain-tasting liquor. I like sipping on Martinis with two olives, shaken vigorously and served up in a vermouth coated glass. After the first few sips, the Taaka goes down just fine and never gives me a headache unless I drink too much (that is true with any liquor). It is also worth noting that I don’t always agree with the tastes of other vodka review sites. Sobieski and Tito’s are two vodkas that are loved by many that I don’t find very good. Kru-82 is one of those rare occasions where I agree with the author of, VodkaBuzz.

My Impression of Kru-82 Vodka

How Does it Taste?

I poured my first sip of Kru-82 into my martini glass; swirled it and thought it had a crisp, clean aroma with very little burn to the nose. The first, warm sip was light, airy, with hints of ethanol similar to Tito’s and Sobieski. The difference, however, is that the Kru-82 has a more pleasing, sugary finish to me than these other two vodkas. When shaken with ice and turned into a martini, the Kru-82 vodka was noticeably better than a Taaka martini, as it should be.
Though I prefer it to Sobieski and Tito’s, I still wouldn’t rank it among my favorites, or would I pay extra for it. If I had to put a number on it from 1-100, I’d give Kru-82 it’s name: Kru-82 gets an 82 Score. Now, back to the mystery of where this vodka is made.

Is Kru-82 from Holland or France?

My bottle says, distilled in France, but everything I looked up online says Kru-82 is from Holland. Isn’t that weird? I’m sure there is a logical answer to this mystery. Here is what is interesting: Most of the online reviews I’ve read show that the product is sold in a .750 liter metal flask, the same as my 200ml sample that came with my 1.75 liter glass bottle. It is also interesting to me how the opinions of this vodka range anywhere from horrible to delicious. Perhaps the difference in opinion either have to do with where the vodka is distilled or how it is bottled. At any rate, who do you believe? The mystery is as intriguing as a freshly, shaken martini.

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Monopolowa Vodka




Monopolowa Vodka Made With PotatoesVodka made with potatoes tend to be my favorites.  There are two reasons I prefer them:

One: Since potatoes are a gluten-free starch, vodkas made from potatoes are healthier for those who have an intolerance or experience adverse reactions to gluten-based foods. If you like having a couple of martinis every day, this is an important consideration to make when choosing a brand of vodka.

Two: I’ve tried enough different brands to become convinced that I prefer the taste of vodka made from potatoes. Monopolowa vodka is no exception. It might not be quite as smooth as the Blue Ice, but it has other characteristics that have quickly endeared me to this brand.

Monopowola Vodka Described

Monopolowa is a popular imported potato vodka from Austria. I’ve noticed over the years, that Monopolowa is often the recommended vodka choice for customers at my local, Apple Jacks liquor store. At $26.00 for a 1.75 Liter bottle, it is a reasonable alternative to those pricier, over-rated tier-1 brands like Grey Goose. For me, even $26.00 represents a rather, high-priced vodka, so I’ve held off trying it up until now. The sale for $19.99 made Monopolowa too good to resist trying so I picked up a bottle. I loved the last couple of vodka brands I’ve had that were made from potatoes, so I looked forward to taking it home and using it in martinis.

Monopolowa Vodka Taste Rating

3.7 Stars
Once again, it has been proven to me that vodka made from potatoes are my favorites and make especially good martinis. I poured the first sip, neat and at room temperature into my glass and took a quick shot. The Monopolowa is not quite as smooth as the Blue Ice, but has a little more character. I noted white pepper, vanilla, caramel; another spice that I couldn’t quite identify, and even a hint of potato peel. Shaken and poured into a glass with a couple of olives, and lightly coated with trubuno vermouth, the Monopolowa vodka makes an excellent martini.

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Three Olives Vodka




Three Olives VodkaIf you haven’t heard of Three Olives Vodka it’s not due to a shortage of advertising. You may have seen the advertisement of a popular male actor in your newspaper or one of your magazines recently. Vodka companies are known for advertising sexy female models with their products, but Three Olives Vodka seems to be going after sophistication and class. Three Olives seems to be marketed as a high-end vodka with an affordable price tag. I purchased a 1.75 Liter bottle of  Three Olives from Costco for a price of $20.00. Since this particular liquor store has extremely competitive priced, I would imagine the typical street price is around $23-$25.00 per 1.75 Liter.

Reviewing Method of Three Olives Vodka

I’ve come to the conclusion that vodka has three taste ranges: High, Medium and Low. The high is that first taste at the tip of the mouth and usually an indicator of sweetness. The mid-range is the where the body and intricate flavors come into play. The low end is how smooth the vodka goes down and what kind of after tones or tastes are left in your palate.  To make the perfect martini, a vodka must excel in all three ranges. It was the distinctive first sip of Three Olives that gave me this idea as a method for reviewing vodka for the first time ever. As you’re about to see, this is not necessarily a ringing endorsement of Three Olives.

Three Olives Vodka Taste Test

Don’t be fooled by it’s inconspicuous, nearly-invisible aroma. Three Olives has one of the most bitter, front-end tastes I’ve ever experienced from any vodka. The burn is reminiscent of pure, 90% rubbing alcohol. The taste is similar to what you get when your tongue touches the inside of those rubber balloons that you are blowing up for your kid’s birthday party. Those that criticize Taaka vodka must not have much of a sense for the bitter, stringent and offensive flavor of a truly bitter vodka. Taaka has a far better top-end flavor.

Once you get past the first, bitter sensation at the tip of the tongue, the Three Olives continues to offend even in the middle range. It does mellow out somewhat, but just doesn’t have the quality of a really smooth vodka.

This unfortunate vodka finally begins to mellow out a bit after you’ve swallowed it. It is relatively smooth going down and after a few swigs or so, it is not impossible to enjoy an entire martini. The problem is that there is no real benefits to tolerating the stinging bitterness that it leaves in your mouth in the first place. Three Olives has so no redeeming character or qualities to it that would compel me to use it in place of some of the other vodkas I tried in the same price range. That list includes Superia, Blue Ice or even, Ruskova which is far cheaper. If there is any redeeming qualities to this particular vodka it’s the pretty bottle; reasonable price tag and the fact it didn’t cause me to have a headache the next day due to it’s relatively smooth finish. But for the money, there are plenty of other vodkas that taste much better all the way around.

Truth be told, we’ve reviewed a lot of cheaper, vodkas on this site that are far superior to Three Olives Vodka: See our Vodka Ratings category.

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Blue Ice Vodka

Blue Ice Vodka
Blue Ice Vodka is exceptionally smooth, crisp, light, sugary, lively, delicious, affordable liquor … and I might add – the best vodka I’ve ever had. I’m not joking, this one is a winner. Blue Ice Handcrafted American Potato Vodka as it’s full title suggests, is made in America. As the full title also suggests, Blue Ice Vodka is made from potatoes which is rare these days and very appealing to those on a gluten-free diet. I completely appreciate food products made without wheat and glutens. I believe it reduces the head-ache the next day and is also healthier for you..But what good is that if you don’t enjoy the taste of the product you are consuming? Don’t worry – Blue Ice Vodka won’t let you down.

Blue Ice Vodka Described

I went to my local liquor store to pick-up my usual martini, staple item – Taaka Vodka ($9.99 for a 1.75 Liter Bottle) – the attractive, brickish, rectangular shape of the Blue Ice Vodka bottle caught my eye – it was the first time I had ever seen this brand. The full title on the bottle explains that Blue Ice is not only made in America, but with russet potatoes which is rather rare these days. As my standards go, Blue Ice is not cheap – it sells for $22.99 per 1.75 Liter at my very competitive, local liquor store which is more than twice the price of my old, stand-by, Taaka. Life is too short – and variety is its spice, so I decided to pay more than double the price to try this very interesting looking Blue Ice vodka. On the shelf where it resided, there was a review sticker from some organization (I can’t remember it’s name, but it was something like the wine and spirits institute) that gave it a lofty numerical rating of 94 points. Of course, I had to try it.

Blue Ice Vodka Taste Rating

From the first sip, I fell in love with this vodka. Normally it takes me some time to get used to a new vodka or reach a final verdict on whether or not I think it is worth its price tag. Blue Ice Vodka is noticeably smoother than any vodka I’ve ever tried from the very first sip. From the very tip of its nose, to the middle and all the way down the gullet, this vodka never disappoints. The taste is extremely, light and crisp with just a hint of potato and sugary sweetness that seems to dissolve slowly in the palate without ever leaving an undesirable side-effect. Sobieski Vodka is a favorite bargain liquor of some vodka drinkers, but to me there is no comparison. Blue Ice is better than any vodka I’ve ever tried. After a quick internet search, I found that Blue Ice also makes a wheat vodka. I’ll save that for another day. Gluten-free consumers and all other vodka drinkers will truly appreciate Blue Ice Vodka
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