Vodka Brand Descriptions

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Main article: Vodka

Absolut Vodka

Swedish vodka that is now the #1 premium vodka in the world. Introduced in 1879 as 'Absolutely Pure Vodka' which used a new distillation method called rectification (a way of removing unwanted by-products). The clear bottle is styled after an old Swedish medicine bottle. Made from locally grown wheat and well-water from the town of Ahus in southern Sweden where all Absolut is produced. Absolut removes most impurities while retaining enough trace elements to keep the character of the raw materials used. Smooth and light-bodied with some licorice flavors. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a ** rating.

Absolut Peppar Vodka

Super-premium vodka flavored with natural jalapeño pepper and paprika flavors. The Tabasco-sauce-like flavors provide some heat (but not too hot). Definitely spicy. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating. Great for Bloody Marys.

Absolut Citron Vodka

Super-premium Swedish vodka blended with lemon, lime, mandarin orange and grapefruit flavors. America's third best selling imported vodka. Clean and intense aroma. Tart and tangy. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a **** (highly recommended) rating.

Absolut Kurant Vodka

Super-premium Swedish vodka blended with black currant. Intense black currant nose and flavors with perhaps a hint of black raspberry. Very balanced. Tart and fruity. May be served straight on-the-rocks or mixed with berry juice. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a **** (highly recommended) rating.

Belvedere Vodka

Imported from Poland, Belvedere is made from 100% Polish rye, distilled 4 times and charcoal filtered. It is made in a tradition that dates back over 500 years (the Polish invented vodka). The bottle is finished with a cork and features the Belvedere House which is the Polish equivalent to the White House. It has a distinct flavor of rye, is creamy smooth and has a clean finish.

Denaka Vodka

Vodka from Denmark that has sweet overtones and maple-syrup like flavors. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating).

Finlandia Vodka

Imported vodka from Finland. Made from locally grown grains and natural spring water that is filtered through glacial moraine rock. Requires no chemical filtration and does not use chemically treated water. Well balanced and blended. Deeply flavored. Semi-sweet with creamy, biscuity flavors with a hint of corn. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a **** (highly recommended) rating.

Grey Goose Vodka

Ultra-premium vodka produced and bottled in France. Made with water from the Gente Springs where the water cascades over porous limestone, a natural purifier. The grains used are from the breadbasket region of France. Grey Goose is column distilled in small batches. Each bottle is handmade and depicts the grey goose in flight with the French Alps in the background. Smoky aroma with hints of mint and grain. The flavor is off-dry, has a moderate bite and has notes of wheat and cocoa bean. 'Spirits Journal' gives it a **** rating.

Ketel One Vodka

Premium vodka from Holland. Pleasing bouquet with hints of charcoal and anise. Mildly spicy and slightly sweet (for vodka) flavor. Rich texture. Long citrusy finish. 'Kindred Spirits' says it is one of the 'most complex and multilayered unflavored vodkas in the marketplace.' It gives it a **** rating (highly recommended). 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 87 points. During the 1600's and 1700's, Holland became an important center of commerce for the grain trade. Because of their strategic locations at the mouth of the river Maas and on the North Sea, Schiedam, and later Rotterdam, were the sites of Holland's greatest auctions of grain. As a result of the availability of grain, these cities also became the heart of the European distilled spirits industry.

The Nolet Distillery was one of the first to open in the Dutch port city of Schiedam. Founded in 1691 by Joannes Nolet, it has been handed down from father to son for ten generations. Within the space of a few years, many more distilleries were thriving along the river. By 1882, there were 394 in the city of Schiedam alone. Today, only five distilleries remain. The Nolet Distillery is one of the most prominent in all Holland. Domestic sales account for the vast majority of its business. Export to the United States has only recently been undertaken.

In the early years, the Nolets built an international market for their products and export sales far exceeded domestic sales for over two hundred and fifty years. The Nolet family expanded their business interests, eventually building their own glass and cork factories as well as a printing company. In 1793, fifth generation owner Jacobus Nolet built a four-story windmill named "The Whale". It was, and remains today, the tallest grain milling windmill in the world. In the early 1800's, the Nolet Distillery acquired it's own clipper ships. These sailing ships left Schiedam laden with empty glass wine and port bottles which were sold to France and Portugal. They also carried distilled spirits to be sold on the west coast of Africa. The ships returned to Holland with their holds full of grain purchased in Russia. The Nolets traded with the Romanovs, the family of the Tsar, until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. So close were their ties that the Nolet family was granted the right to use the double eagle from the Tsar's own crest. The Nolet Distillery began using the Double Eagle as its trademark in 1804, a tradition that continues to this day.

Hand crafted in traditional copper pot stills, Ketel One is the smoothest vodka imaginable. Born of a gentle coal fire under the watchful eye of the Master Distiller, Ketel One is created in limited quantities to preserve its exceptional quality.

Only the heart of the distillate, the center of each batch, is considered fine enough to be called Ketel One. The first 100 gallons, and the last, are separated and discarded as being either too harsh or too weak. What remains is consistently the smoothest and most elegant. This special technique is time consuming and costly but can only be accomplished by using pot stills. The result more than justifies the added care and expense as is readily apparent with the first sampling of Ketel One.

Luksusowa Vodka

Potato vodka from Poland. The nose has an earthy element, probably from the potatoes it is made from. Medium full body. Wet stone, citrus and smoke flavors. Rich heavy texture. Sweetish finish that disappears rapidly. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 88 points.

Original 80 Vodka

Imported Polish vodka. Made from artesian well water and 100% rye grain using only the hearts of the grain shaft. The grain is cleaned six times before the distillation process begins. Distilled a minimum of six times to remove congeners, aldehydes and esters (impurities). Then tested by taste experts to see if more distillation is needed. Filtered a minimum of three times. Finally the viscosity is tested to make sure ice crystals do not form when cold. Keep in the freezer and serve straight or with ice.

Russian Roulette Vodka

Russian vodka made from 100% wheat and artesian well water, put through an 80-step purification system, and finished with a touch of natural bee honey. Label has the same graphics as the original Russian label.



Stolichnaya Cristall Vodka

Ultra-premium vodka from Russia. Made from the same winter wheat and clear glacial water that are used in all of the Stolichnaya vodkas. Cristall is double distilled in a process that is five times slower than ordinary vodkas and bottles only the best vodka from the center of the distillation tank. Nose of rose, dry cereal, and cream. Flavors of chocolate and vanilla. Full-bodied. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a ***** rating which is the book's highest recommendation. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 90 points.

Stolichnaya Ohranj Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with orange zest, juice, and pulp. Medium body. Flavors of orange, lemon, and anise. Cool, icy finish. Good mixed with orange juice for a Screwdriver or an Orange Blossom. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 96 points.

Stolichnaya Vodka

Super-premium vodka from Russia. Made with winter wheat and glacial water, Double distilled using quartz and activated charcoal filtration. 'Kindred Spirits' describes it as 'potent, kicky...' with 'deep licorice and herbal flavors' and gives it a *** rating (recommended). Smoky with a touch of fruit. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 87 points.

Stolichnaya Strasberi Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with fresh strawberries.

Stolichnaya Kafya Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with a blend of natural coffee beans.

Stolichnaya Persik Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with essence of fresh peaches.

Stolichnaya Vanil Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with natural extracts of vanilla beans.

Stolichnaya Zinamon Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with natural oils of cinnamon bark.

Stolichnaya Rasberi Vodka

Russian vodka flavored with fresh raspberries.

Tanqueray Sterling Vodka

English vodka made from carefully selected grains, and triple distilled in small batches. Produced by the same company that makes Tanqueray Gin. Its unique taste is a result of Old Tom, a pot still that has been in continuous use for over 200 years. It is the third largest premium imported vodka in many markets. Fruity bouquet. Sweet and creamy. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating.

Burnett's Vodka

Domestic vodka with aromas of herbs and charcoal-like flavors. Uses a quadruple distillation and triple charcoal filtering process. Very dry. The initial taste can be harsh but mellows quickly. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating.

Five O'Clock Vodka

American vodka made from 100% grain neutral spirits. Produced at the oldest family distillery in the U.S. (Laird & Co.)

Gilbey's Vodka

Domestic vodka made with 100% grain neutral spirits. Smooth clean taste, good for mixing.

Gordon's Vodka

The number three domestic vodka in the U.S. 100% grain neutral spirits. No citric acid blender is added. Consistent flavor and quality.

Popov Vodka

American made vodka distilled from grain. The #2 selling vodka in the U.S.

Rain Vodka

Made exclusively from organically-grown American grain and Kentucky limestone water. Micro-distilled four times and filtered through diamond dust and charcoal. Entire package is recyclable.

S. S. Pierce Vodka

American vodka made from 100% grain neutral spirits. Double filtered. The S.S. Pierce company dates back to 1831.

Senators Club Vodka

American vodka made from 100% neutral grain spirits. Produced at the oldest family distillery in the U.S.(Laird & Company).

Skyy Vodka

Domestic premium vodka that uses a four-column distillation and triple filtration system to remove impurities and congeners (impurities that form during the fermentation process). This produces an extremely clean, satiny and refined vodka. Nuances of cacao and grain flavors. A light but not lightweight vodka. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating.

Smirnoff Vodka

The #1 selling vodka in the U.S and the world. Originally produced in Russia, the recipe found its way to America in the early 1900's. Made with grain and demineralized water and filtered through exclusive hardwood charcoal. Mild aroma and flavors. Dry, crisp and clean. A subtle vodka.

Smirnoff Vodka 100 proof

American made vodka. Medium-full body. Flavors of mint, wet stone and charcoal with strong herbal tones. Rich texture. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 88 points.

Smirnoff Citrus Twist

Flavored American vodka. Made with Smirnoff vodka and natural citrus flavors. Refreshing lemon, lime taste. Clear. Aromas of lemon with some lime and orange. Tart lemon flavors that overshadow any taste of grain. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating.

Teton Glacier Vodka

Potato vodka hand made in America. Uses Rocky Mountain well water and is triple distilled to remove all impurities and congeners. Charcoal and crystal filtered. Sold in 750ml reusable glass decanter.

Don Cossack Light Vodka

The first 'Light' vodka produced in response to consumers' changing lifestyles. It is 53 proof and has 1/3 less calories and 1/3 less alcohol. Can be substituted for regular vodka with any traditional vodka mixers.

Gordon's Orange Vodka

Domestic vodka flavored with essence of orange from the West Indies. 100% grain neutral spirits. Lower proof (60) than regular Gordon's Vodka.

Gordon's Citrus Vodka

Domestic vodka flavored with lemon, lime and oil of orange from the West Indies. Aromas and flavors of lime are predominate. Sweet and slightly tart. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a *** (recommended) rating.

Gordon's Wild Berry Vodka

Domestic flavored vodka. Red berry and tutti-frutti aromas. Quite sweet and fruity.

Canadian Iceberg Vodka

Triple distilled natural grain vodka made in Canada from Ontario corn and water from captured icebergs.

Polar Ice Vodka

Quadruple distilled Canadian vodka made by Corby.

Vodkas From Various Countries

Adapted from an article by Anthony Dias Blue, Bon Appétit, July 1997


Black Death is a novelty premium made, until recently, in Belgium from sugar beets. As of September 1997 however, it is made in England, from grains. Although the producers had a run-in with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms over the vodka's name and grim packaging, Black Death prevailed and is now widely available. Fresh, silky and slightly sweet, it's the only vodka that comes in pop-top cans as well as glass bottles.


Tanqueray, known primarily for its gin, also makes an elegant premium vodka called Tanqueray Sterling. Packaged in a frosted-glass bottle, it is crisp and smooth with plenty of character. A tangy citrus version satisfies those who are looking for a dash of extra flavor.


The Frïs brand (pronounced "freeze") comes in a striking beveled bottle. But it's this vodka's taste — clean and satiny with fragrances of herbs and spice and a mild sweetness — that will win you over.

While most vodka producers use a clear bottle to emphasize the purity of their drink, Danzka hides it in an attractive aluminum canteen. This lively, dry premium is also made in a citron version.


Packaged in a bottle that looks as if it were carved out of glacial ice, Finlandia will melt your heart with its smooth, mellow, easy-drinking character. Although a veteran on the vodka scene, it has two new flavored versions, cranberry and pineapple.


Ketel One, handmade in the same family-owned distillery for three centuries, may be the smoothest of all vodkas, with a hint of vanilla aroma and a soft finish. Royalty, presented in a

blue bottle, has a similarly refined texture and a clean flavor.


The Poles and Russians may argue over the birthplace of vodka, but what is beyond dispute is the excellent quality of the latest Polish vodkas. A stunning example is Belvedere, which is made entirely from rye and comes in a frosted bottle that depicts Belvedere House, the Polish equivalent of the White House. Another is the exceptional Luksusowa, one of the few commercial vodkas that still use potatoes as a base. The result is a superb drink — full-bodied, slightly smoky and quite satiny.


Stolichnaya, Russia's premier vodka, is a model of that country's robust style. The label's latest luxury product is the velvety Stoli Gold. Last year the company brought out six jazzy new flavored vodkas — vanilla, strawberry, peach, cinnamon, raspberry and coffee.

A favorite communist-era vodka, Moskovskaya, has recently been introduced to the United States. Made in Moscow, it has a slightly peppery finish. Ultraa Vodka is a silky, creamy-textured émigré from St. Petersburg. Kremlyovskaya is a whisper-clean spirit that debuted in 1990.

The most historic vodka name in Russia is Smirnoff. After the fall of communism, the Smirnoffs (who had emigrated to France and then to the U.S.) returned to Moscow, where they now produce a brisk, dry, elegant premium called Smirnoff Black.

Russian Roulette is distilled from wheat grown in the regions of Stavropol and Krasnodar and finished with honey.

From the countries of Latvia and Estonia come the delicious Zelta and Volganaya vodkas, respectively.


Absolut is now the best-selling foreign vodka in America. Absolut Kurant is their latest release.


In the last several years, we have seen the emergence of a few handcrafted premiums in the United States. There's Skyy, a lovely San Francisco spirit, and the newly arrived Teton Glacier, a unique vodka made in Idaho — from potatoes, of course.

Anthony Dias Blue, Bon Appétit, July 1997



The Russians have a centuries-old tradition of flavoring their vodka with fruits and herbs to suit the season and various celebrations. Pertsovka (pepper), Limonnaya (lemon) and Okhotnichya (herb-infused hunter's vodka) were introduced in the U.S. starting in 1984. But flavored vodka really caught on with the popularity of Stolichnaya Ohranj, considered by many to be the finest flavored vodka available.

Now the tradition expands with the first-ever launch of an entire line of flavored vodkas — new Stoli Flavors.

These six distinctively flavored vodkas are expanding old perceptions of vodka as odorless and flavorless. But make no mistake, the new Stoli Flavors are definitely vodka. Each exhibits the smooth character of the finest Russian vodka, with the added dimension of clean, natural, flavors and aromas.

Stoli Vanil is enhanced by the pure essence of Madagascan and Indonesian vanilla beans. The mellow flavor of vanilla with a hint of butterscotch beautifully complements the smoothness of Stolichnaya.

Stoli Kafya is made from the finest spirits, distilled from wheat and clear glacial water, it is then married to a special blend of beans from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, Indonesia and Colombia to achieve its unique taste; a subtle, nutty, roasted coffee bean flavor.

Stoli Strasberi is enhanced with the juices and oils of full ripened strawberries, picked when their natural sugars are at their peak. .

The oils of Sri Lankan cinnamon and Chinese cassia lend Stoli Zinamon its "red hot" taste.

Sure to be a favorite, Stoli Persik is flavored with the aromatic essence and oils of rare, luscious white peaches.

Stoli Rasberi features the luscious flavor of raspberries. Like its fruity siblings, Stoli Rasberi has a delicate flavor with just the right amount of sweetness.

True to the Stolichnaya tradition, each of the new Stoli Flavors is double-distilled in Russia from superior winter wheat and soft glacial water. After filtration through quartz and activated charcoal, the vodka is then blended with all-natural flavor elements before a third and final filtration.

These new Stoli Flavors offer an array of choices for creating innovative concoctions. Vodka lovers are limited only by their imaginations. Flavors also add a great twist to classics like martinis, or can be served simply on ice with sodas or juices. Even staunch purists can enjoy the new Stoli Flavors in the traditional Russian way: icy cold and straight up!

Cristall Moscow Signature Vodka

There is only one original Cristall Moscow Signature series vodka. Cristall vodka is a special and unique patented formula which can only be produced by its registered owner, the Cristall distillery in Moscow, Russia. From its inception Cristall has had, and continues to hold, the honor of being Russia's finest, ultra premium vodka. Its quality and tradition come from an exclusive formula which cannot be duplicated.

Every ounce of Cristall is twice passed over a bed of pure crystal, and filtered through carbon granules made from the wood of Russia's Native Birch. This unique distillation process creates a Russian vodka so exceptional it has become a mark of excellence with unmatched appeal for the uncompromising customer.

There are eight automatic vodka bottle lines as well as four liqueur, "nastoyka" (a kind of liqueur), and "nalivka" (a kind of fruit liqueur) lines under operation.

The ancient buildings (the distillery is a monument of industrial architecture) harmonize with modern mosaic interior and modern constructions. Well-equipped stores have been built of late and the output of export shop doubled after reconstruction.

In the beginning of the century the distillery's output was 2.6 million deciliters of vodka of five or six denominations. Today, the annual manufacture is 10 million deciliters embracing 70 denominations. The distillery pays 20 per cent of its export revenues and more than 8 per cent earnings in the Russian state budget. Annual income runs into many billions of rubles.

Cristall Vodka is distributed and sold throughout the United States by McCormick Distilling Co., Inc., and is Imported by Frank Pesce International Group Ltd. Boca Raton, Florida 40% Alcohol (80 proof)