Every gentleman inevitably confronts the same question during their drinking career: Is premium vodka worth the premium price?
In the noble pursuit of pseudo-science, your trusty experimenter sweet-talked seven friends – vodka enthusiasts, but hardly connoisseurs – into a blind taste test. With safety goggles in place, we put our Grade 5 science class skills to the test.
Premium vodkas are all marketing hype. Nobody can really taste the difference.
One bottle each of freezer-chilled Absolut, Skyy, Ketel One, Grey Goose and the limited edition, 100-proof Belvedere Intense.
Tasters sampled about a quarter-shot of each brand in a glass identifiable only to me. I controlled for variables: no mix, no ice. Subjects recorded tasting notes, guessed brands and proceeded slowly but surely toward inebriation.
If our participants agreed on anything, it’s that vodka is not best quaffed neat. Most brands elicited negative responses: “notes of glass shards,” (Belvedere Intense) and “tastes like gas” (Ketel One). However, some reactions were positive: One taster called Absolut “lovely and leggy.” Go figure.
Each vodka had the panel split – randomly – on whether or not it was premium; identifying specific brands was hopeless. The only vodka to elicit a consistent reaction was Belvedere Intense; its higher alcohol content lead all but one to call it hooch.
Vodka is basically ethanol and water: It’s meant to go down smooth, with only a sweet burning kiss to tell you it’s working. Often, the less you taste, the better you’ll like it. Our conclusion? Buy the cheap stuff and sock away the rest in your RRSP.
Image courtesy of morberg on flickr