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.

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.

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.

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

Superia Vodka

Superia Makes Best Vodka Martini

Best Vodka Martini using Superia

Supereria Vodka makes the best vodka martini I’ve ever had. I found this jewel of a vodka on my Thanksgiving trip to Arkansas. I stopped in a very nice liquor store in Ashdown, AR (just outside of Texarkana). I didn’t bring any vodka with me on this particular, 1,000 mile road-trip and so I was craving a good martini for Thanksgiving cheer.  I always look forward to finding, good value-priced vodkas. After learning that the ultra-smooth, Titos Handmade Vodka is like drinking pure ethanol I’ve decided sometimes the cheaper vodkas are more to my liking, anyway. The Superia vodka is imported from Russia so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. The price for a 1.75 Liter was just $17.00. Part of the reason for the competitive price could reflect the Arkansas liquor market which I’m not as familiar with as Colorado’s vodka prices. On the other hand, the Svedka vodka, at $23.00, is considerably higher-priced than what I can get it for in Colorado. The truth is, however, I could pay $23.00 for Superia and still think it’s a good vodka for the money. It wasn’t until I finally took the Superia home, though, and made it right, with the olive that I came to the final conclusion: Superia makes the best vodka martini I’ve ever had.

When I brought the vodka with me to our Thanksgiving party, I was too bashful to ask for a martini glass, so I drank it on the rocks in a plastic cup. Of course, I tasted the vodka neat, at room temperature first, just to get that first note of flavor, character and smoothness. Instantly, I found the Superia to not only be as smooth as Tito’s, but without the undesirable ethanol flavor. Superia is good enough to sip straight-up. I would say, Superia compares slightly to Ruskova, another Russian, bargain-priced vodka. However, I like the Superia even better.  I didn’t fully appreciate the Superia, however, until I made my first martini with it back at the hotel later that evening. Using a coffee cup for my martini shaker, I shook up a glass full of the Superia and strained it into my plastic, clear hotel water glass. It was chilled – and straight, without even so much as olive for a garnish.

Superia Vodka Rating

I give this one a 95 Rating

Tito’s Handmade Vodka

According to the reviews I’ve read, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is one of the smoothest, best-tasting vodkas you can buy. Tito’s also happens to be a completely, gluten free vodka. This is something that is important to anyone who has celiac disease or other, less-serious, gluten allergies. I paid $25.99 for the 1.75 liter of bottle at my near-Costco liquor store in Arvada, CO. $25.99 is more than twice what I normally pay for vodka. There is a reason I don’t pay too much for vodka and I think this short review on Tito’s will make that point.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka Taste Test

I poured a small, neat shot of Tito’s into my martini glass and swigged it down at room temperature. My first impression was that Tito’s is an exceptionally smooth vodka – almost too smooth. Let me explain: Tito’s is so clean that the distinctive taste of ethanol is almost over-powering. It’s almost as if you’re sipping something at a chemistry lab. They say that extremely thorough distillation brings out the ethanol taste. This is consistent with the claim on the bottle that Tito’s is distilled 6 times. It is a very smooth tasting vodka with little burn going down, but is this a desirable trait in a vodka? Maybe, I’m no expert on vodka, but the extreme, ethanol flavor is bitter to me at the very tip of my taste buds and lingers way too long. Cheaper vodkas like Taaka tend to have a heaviness about them, that takes out the upper, tinge of bitterness at the very top of my palate. Still, I can’t blame those who prefer the overall smooth, light flavor of Tito’s and perhaps the distillation and clean taste will lead to a better feeling the next morning. Tito’s would obviously suit any mixed drink well. The other reason you might like Tito’s handmade Vodka is that it is gluten free.

Tito’s is a Gluten Free Vodka

While the distillation process of most alcohol greatly reduces the risk of gluten contamination not many of them claim to be 100% gluten free, but Tito’s does. Tito’s is distilled from corn which is gluten-free grain. If your a gluten allergy suffer, this might be the best reason yet, to buy only Tito’s vodka.

Titos Handmade Vodka Tasting Test

Tito’s is exceptionally smooth, but to my mind it really doesn’t taste all that good. If ethanol tastes good to you, Tito’s handmade gluten free vodka might be just what you want.

Platinum Vodka

platinum vodka
platinum vodka

Platinum vodka may look like one of those expensive Polish or Russian Vodkas, but how does it taste? It didn’t take me very long to find out. I discovered the Platinum at Costco’s liquor partner store just yesterday while looking for my favorite, Ruskova. I found this instead: Platinum brand Vodka, in a big, 1.75 liter bottle for only $12.99. The icing on the cake was the free sample of Cinnamon whiskey that was tied to the top of the bottle. But more on that later. Back to Platinum:

Platinum Vodka is Smooth

Don’t think for one minute that Platinum is one of the best vodkas just for it’s name and pretty, blue bottle. On the other hand for a $13.00 1.75 liter package, it’s certainly a decent vodka. I removed the cinnamon whiskey sample from the lid, twisted off the blue cap and poured about a half ounce in my stainless steel shaker. I always drink vodkas warm when first sampling them. The Platinum had a very noticeable alcohol-burn to its nose, but the front taste was not nearly as bitter and harsh as I expected. It went down rather smoothly and had a very crisp, pepper taste with just a bit of vanilla to it as it rounds out going down. I’d rank this maybe a tad below the Ruskova Vodka, but clearly better than Taaka.

Who Makes Platinum Vodka

Platinum vodka is actually made by the makers of Taaka Vodka, so I suppose you could say this is their upgraded model. The bottle advertises that it has been distilled 7 times which is surely an improvement over the Taaka which has no indication at all that it’s even been distilled a second time.

Light Taste – Doesn’t Overpower

I dropped a couple of olives in a glass; poured in a couple of ounces of Platinum and shook it vigorously with crushed ice. I enjoyed the first martini and the 2nd one was even better. Platinum does not have a whole lot of taste, but it is bright, crisp and relatively clean for such a bargain-priced vodka.

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Russian Standard Vodka

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russian standard vodkaRussian Standard Vodka (Original) is one of three different vodkas made by the same company. Russian Standard Platinum and Russian Standard Imperia Vodka are the two upper-end, pricier vodka choices from the same distillery which I have not yet tried. Russian Standard, like any premium Russian vodka is distilled from Wheat. While the original Russian Vodka maybe the cheapest of the three, it is still priced in the range of premium and popular vodkas like Stoli and Monopolowa. I paid $25.95 for a 1.75 Liter bottle of original Russian Standard. You can expect to see it priced between $23.00 and $32.00 at your favorite, local liquor store. I’ll confess to two things prior to buying this: One, I was attracted by the interesting looking bottle, with Russian Calligraphy; supposedly named for Peter the Great. The bottle alone makes for good, drink conversation. Two, I didn’t actually pay $25.95. The liquor store was closing and I happened to be shopping at a most opportune time with liquor being sold at 50% off of shelf price. I paid about $13.00 for my first, 1.75 Liter bottle of Original Russian Standard . As someone who enjoys $20.00-and-under vodkas like Svedka and Ruskova, I was anxious to try an original Russian Standard Vodka at a most unoriginal price.

Russian Standard Vodka Tasting Notes

I expected good things from such a tasty looking bottle, and my first sip of original, Russian Standard Vodka, did not disappoint. When sampling new, vodka I like to pour a couple of sips worth at room temperature directly into my martini glass. The Russian Standard Website recommends that you drink their vodka at a temperature between 41 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Sampling at a slightly warmer, room temperature in my opinion, makes the aromas and taste more noticeable. Russian Standard original has a very light, crisp and almost transparent nose. There is very little of that ‘natural-gas’ spirit aroma of other vodkas. First sip is thin, high and what the New Amsterdam Vodka wishes it was: Crisp, yet not overly thin-pitched and bitter. Russian Standard Vodka does have a bite, and a mild burn going down, but finishes very smoothly. I took a couple of shots and poured it into my stainless steal shaker with 4 ice cubes. I plopped an olive in my martini glass and did the usual ritual: Shook the vodka vigorously until my fingers were on the verge of frost-bite from the freezing stainless steel and my right arm was about to fall off. I poured the ice-cold, frothy vodka into a martini glass enjoying the way the shadowy olives formed steam inside the icy, transparent liquid. The colder temperature tamed the frontal bitterness of the vodka significantly. As a martini, Russian Standard is crisp, clean and sugar-like with very light overtones of vanilla and almond. Russian Standard vodka has very little caramel or other darker, earthy tones.  Russian Standard is not a complex vodka, but it is infinitely enjoyable and drinkable as a martini and would go very much unnoticed in a desirable way as a mixer. The entire, first martini went down smoother than any other vodka I have ever had. I have to score this one a little bit higher than my previous favorite; Svedka.

Final Rating: 91

Delicious, thin, clean vodka with a light first bite, but a sugary, crisp vanilla finish which makes you crave your second martini.  Russian Standard is the best I’ve had for under $26.00.

  • Taste: 91
  • Smoothness: 91
  • Character: 80
  • After Taste: 91
  • Mixer: 95


New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam VodkaHow do you rate New Amsterdam Vodka?  

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It’s not because I like Cheap Vodka that I couldn’t wait to try New Amsterdam Vodka. For me, really cheap Vodka is Taaka. There are better vodka brands that are still considered cheap by vodka drinkers, where-as Taaka is considered downright undrinkable by some. So how does New Amsterdam Compare? I thought very highly of New Amsterdam Gin and numerous friends agreed that it is a great gin for the price, so this is one I looked forward to trying and because it is priced about 50% higher than Taaka, I anxiously expected it to be notably better than what I would personally consider a, cheap vodka. So, how does New Amsterdam Stand up to a  cheap vodka and for that matter, a better one?

Ringing out the New Year with New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam Tasting Notes

To me, tasting Vodka is often like hearing musical notes on a staff. Each flavor has its own pitch. The darker, heavier ones are lower on the staff and the crisper, light and thin ones, are higher up on the staff. I Must say that New Amsterdam is a very high-pitched Vodka. It has a very crisp, thin bite to its nose and rings crisper and more bitter on the very first sip. If this does not sound like a ringing endorsement, it is not a bad one either. New Amsterdam has an adjustment period where you have to convince yourself that the thin bitter front isn’t going to go down too harshly. This Vodka is not overly harsh going down, but it does have a very shallow, thin bite that burns the top-end of your palate. It is crisp, thin and sweet, yet not much in the way of complexity or character. I believe that some people rate vodka on how little flavor it has. While Taaka is a truly cheap vodka I think it actually has more character and flavor than the New Amsterdam vodka at nearly half the price. I won’t mistake character and complexity for being an un-smooth vodka. I’ve come to appreciate the darker nose; vanilla, butter, rum and caramel in vodkas like Pearl or even the bargain-based bottom end Taaka. If Taaka and Pearl Vodka are a low A, then the New Amsterdam vodka is a high C above the treble-cleff staff. New Amsterdam is tinny, thin and crisp; not overly smooth, but not overly harsh. New Amsterdam doesn’t make a great martini because its front-end is just too darn bitter for sipping. New Amsterdam Vodka, I project, would make a very good mixer with any type of juice or sweetener because it is too light in flavor to overpower anything that you put in it. Cranberry juice would very easily mask its bitter front end. I also think that New Amsterdam Vodka would make a very good Cosmo when used with Leopold Bros Cranberry Liquer.

New Amsterdam Vodka Rating: 73

  • As a Martini: 68
  • As Shots: 72
  • As Mixer: 78
  • As a Cheap Vodka: 74

Pearl Vodka

Pearl Vodka

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Pearl vodka is my new, favorite vodka for making straight-up, martinis with two olives. I like my martinis very dry with little or no olive juice. Who would waste good money on vodka and put olive juice in it? Not me, but maybe that’s just me. I never did understand the dirty martini craze. Of all of the different wines, foods and liquors I’ve tasted and reviewed, I think vodka is not only the most difficult to rate, but the most disagreed upon substance known to man. I frequently visit the VodkaBuzz website where I often don’t agree with the reviews. It was of no surprise to me that Pearl had a poor rating: 2 out of 5 stars. Pearl is a completely misunderstood and under-rated vodka now let me tell you why:

What Makes a Good Vodka?

Let’s be honest. The majority of alcohols we drink are deeper and richer, tasting than vodka. Vodka is most commonly used as either a mixer or a martini. Even the once popular classic martini is getting doused these days with either olive juice or some type of fruity, syrup. I think the majority of vodka drinkers are looking for as little flavor as possible without the bite of 80 proof alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with that, I think that mindset has caused the characteristics of a good vodka to become greatly unnoticed or underrated. Would we want our bourbon, tequila, scotch or gin to have as little flavor as possible? Like any good drink, vodka should be smooth, but that doesn’t mean it has to lack character. Martini drinkers, especially, should demand some character and flavor from their vodka. So, to understand what makes a good Vodka we should agree on what does not a good vodka make: a flavorless, clear alcohol. If you truly want to taste and enjoy a good sipping vodka, here is what you will love about Pearl.

Pearl Vodka Tasting Notes

Pearl vodka will be a complete mystery to you if you are to judge it only by its subtle aroma. There is very little burn to the nose which might make you believe you are about to drink something which seems very familiar and agreeable to you. For those who are after something which is rather ordinary in a vodka, you will either feel sadly misled or pleasantly surprised after your first swallow. I first tasted Pearl after priming my taste buds with a shot of my standby, familiar favorite and affordable Ruskova Russian vodka. I was immediately intrigued by the mellow, yet substantive, after-taste which filled my senses with caramel, vanilla, and dare I say – Scotch? Wow. My senses were certainly captivated. Deciding to put the brakes on my intrigue, I made my first martini with the remaining contents from Ruskova, 1.75 Liter Bottle. I must admit, I had a hard time concentrating on my first martini. My thoughts kept going back to the Pearl and how much different my experience might be had I used that to make my first martini. I drank the first one rather quickly and eagerly went back to the Pearl to make my second martini. Pearl made the best martini I have ever tasted. The caramel, vanilla and scotch flavors were just as I remembered them from my first taste. There was very little burn. Pearl vodka is a liquor that has far better character and taste than the typical, colorless alcoholic chemical we think should be vodka. I’ll give you my pearl vodka rating:

Pearl Vodka Final Rating

My Rating on Pearl Vodka: 

Our Score

The only reason that I didn’t give Pearl a perfect 5 out of 5-star rating is that it would leave no room for something better. Is there as such a thing as perfection? Pearl vodka will certainly make you think twice before answering that question.

Eristoff Vodka

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Eristoff VodkaEristoff Vodka is a triple-distilled, bargain-priced vodka made in France. To me, premium vodkas are a rip-off. The top-shelf brands in the elegant bottles like Grey Goose are overpriced. It is my belief that the majority of people who pay a pretty penny for these expensive vodkas could buy brands for less than 1/2 the price and be just as happy with the smoothness and flavor. It is really tragic to pay good money for vodka than mix it with sour, cranberry juice or a dirty martini full of salty, olive juice.  Don’t get me wrong, some vodkas are better than others, but don’t think you have to pay a Grey Goose or Ketel One price to enjoy a good clean taste. There are 1.75 Liter brands selling for less than $21.00 that will satisfy most people. Is Eristoff Vodka  one of those that compares favorably to the top-shelf brands?

Eristoff vs Top Shelf Vodka Brands

Taaka is the cheap vodka brand which all cheap vodkas are to be compared, in my opinion. No, Taaka is not a great vodka by any means, but for the price just about anyone can learn to mix with it in such a way to make it tolerable. Eristoff is appreciably better than Taaka and probably better than most vodkas in the $20.00-and-under per 1.75 Liter bottle price range.  Eristoff is a wheat-based alcohol, so stay clear of this if you have any severe gluten allergies or aversions to wheat-based food products. Eristoff has a very sharp, bitter front to it. Almost bitter enough that it hides any of it’s vanilla-sweet over-tones. The pepper is extreme to the point where it is almost hot. I noticed a bit of caramel in the taste, but only after some real effort getting past the front-of-the-mouth, sharpness that rings long after you’ve downed the first swallow.  The good news, however, is that the bitterness does not follow it’s way down your esophagus and into your gut like Taaka and some of the other bargain-priced vodkas. Eristoff vodka actually has a smooth, sugary finish. If you’re not expecting too much for your $17.00, you won’t be too disappointed. That is, unless you’ve been drinking Ruskova, another bargain-priced vodka made in Russian that is much better, all-around. I have been getting Ruskova at my Costco Liquor store for $13.00 per 1.75 Liter bottle. Ruskova is smoother up front with more vanilla and much better, overall flavor than Eristoff. For a few bucks more you can buy Svedka which according to some people is among the best.

Vodka is a peculiar alcohol to rate with extremely varying opinions, so don’t go by my word alone. I remember thinking that Sobieski Vodka was over-rated, yet some vodka drinkers insist that it is the best you can buy for under $20.00. My hunch is that if you tried Sobieski, Eristoff and Ruskova, the Ruskova would come out on top and save you a few bucks, too.

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