Arguably the most popular spirit in the world, the great thing about vodka is its versatility. Get the right one and you can enjoy it neat as it was originally intended, or use it as the base for a whole array of cocktails.
Being such a huge category spirit, styles vary greatly as it’s not so highly regulated as other spirits such as whisky and as a result, there are nuances in colour and impurities. Experience a top-quality, smooth vodka served cold and you’ll come to appreciate what a good vodka really is- served cold, it goes down smooth.
A number of vodkas are produced flavourless and odourless, making them great bases for cocktails, but if it’s to be enjoyed neat, you’re going to want something with a bit of character.
What is Vodka?
It’s an un-aged, distilled spirit made from fermentable grains, generally 40% ABV. Originating from Russia and Poland, vodka is now made the world over. The number of times a vodka is filtered is the producers prerogative but the more its filtered, the fewer the impurities and lesser the flavour.
We’ve rounded up the best premium vodkas that epitomise what a quality vodka is - smooth with no harshness.
Vodka and caviar is one of life’s greatest pairings. The salinity of the Royal Baeri caviar in L'Orbe is held in check by the fresh, cold vodka providing complexity to the spirit. It does have that distinctive caviar taste, as you hope it would, given the size of the Baeri in the internal tube, but it’s not overwhelming. This is a great vodka if you want something completely unique.
Serving suggestions: If you’re partial to a dirty martini or a classic martini, then serving L’Orbe with a twist of lemon is the ideal serve. Enjoy the earthy, salty flavours of the vodka, enhanced by a citrus twist.
€135 from Maison du Whisky
This is an exemplary Polish vodka that should be in everyone’s wish list. Konik’s Tail is a grain-distilled spirit with a slightly thicker viscosity giving it a creamier texture. It carries delicate, savoury flavours with a hint of smokiness on the oily, palatable finish.
Serving suggestions: It really is criminal not to have this neat, but if you’re going use it in a cocktail try a vodka sour where this silk vodka will add to the creamy texture of the egg whites.
$46.62 from The Whisky Exchange
Bottles don’t come more statement than this Fallen Angel, it's not the prettiest but it's attention-grabbing for sure. It's not so easy getting your hands on but worth it when you do. The natural sweetness comes through on an otherwise clean, crisp and smooth palate, the result of a seven-times distillation process.
Serving suggestions: Enjoy it neat, straight from the freezer or in a clean Martini with a twist of lemon.
£195 from Fortnum and Mason
This vodka was a welcome surprise. Produced in Chatham’s Historic Dockyard in Kent, we can’t help but be attached to the nautical roots of this small batch vodka. Undeniably smooth, Vela straight, even at room temperature isn’t a hardship on your throat, a big contender for this category.
Serving suggestions: Enjoy it neat and cold or use it in an espresso martini for a late-night pick-me-up, there's a nice texture to this vodka that nicely complements the creaminess of an espresso martini.
$35 from The Whisky Exchange
We’ve no doubt you’ve come across Russia’s most popular vodka. Carefully crafted in Siberia, Beluga Noble has a distinctive taste of honey with a hint of pepper. It’s elegant and easily enjoyed neat.
Serving suggestions: Cold, straight from the freezer alongside some caviar if you’re so inclined. Otherwise try your hand at the Beluga 1900, a cocktail combining ruby port and citrus with this delicious Beluga Noble.
$40.32 from The Whisky Exchange
This is a lovely Japanese rice vodka from Suntory. Haku has a slightly perfumed aroma and a sweetness that follows through on the palate. It has a slightly oily texture that's clean and smooth, so much so enjoying it neat is a treat, leaving a nice, long aftertaste.
Serving suggestions: Mix it up a bit with a dirty martini using sake and Haku.
£31 from Master of Malt
A classic premium vodka that we can all confidently agree is a safe option. It makes a great base for cocktails as it has a fairly muted yet versatile flavour. Neat, expect a whiff of smoke on an otherwise clean palate.
Serving suggestions: Add ginger beer, ice and a slice for a superb Moscow Mule, or, alternatively, muddle with fresh strawberries and cranberry for a refreshing strawberry smash.
$47 from The Whisky Exchange
For a more premium iteration, try the Grey Goose XV, $178
Vita is a fantastic discovery for those looking for smooth vodka with a potent flavour profile. With a sharp, persistent vein of citrus, Vita can be enjoyed neat or, as the producers suggest, with water. We tried it and there’s no denying it works well.
Serving suggestions: Over ice and topped with soda water - it’s simple, refreshing and light.
A decadent vodka that looks almost too good to open, The Lakes is born from the Lakes Distillery - initially a whisky distillery - in England’s Lake District. It has a strong hint of citrus and would make a great base for a number of cocktails.
Serving suggestions: Great for a variety of cocktails, our particular favourite is an indulgent White Russian- pair with Kahlua and cream
$44 from Master of Malt