Known all over the world for its unique advertising campaigns, this Swedish vodka that is the top selling premium vodka in the world. Introduced in 1879 as 'Absolutely Pure Vodka,' it 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. The vodka is made from locally grown wheat and well-water from the town of Ahus in southern Sweden. All Absolut is actually produced in Ahus. Smooth and light-bodied with some licorice flavors.
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 bottle is finished with a cork and features the Belvedere House, which is the Polish equivalent to the American White House. It has a distinct flavor of rye, nuts and vanilla, is creamy smooth and has a clean finish.
Handcrafted from 100% grain and pure Irish spring water, this vodka is quadruple distilled and filtered through 10 feet of charcoal made from Atlantic Irish Oak. The name is inspired by Brian Boru, the first High King of Ireland. Each bottle features a raised motif displaying 1014, the year Boru won the Battle of Clontarf. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives Boru 92 points (out of 100).
Charodei is Russian for "mystical," and this new vodka (introduced in 1997) has won seven International First Place Awards and Medals. The vodka is made using a unique filtering system discovered by the Minsk Institute of Technology, and is purified through a natural mineral called Cremia, a black flint found in Belarus and which is found to purify the water used without robbing the vodka of its flavor.
This pure Russian vodka (advertising slogan: "Compromise is unacceptable") is the leading premium vodka exported by Moscow's top vodka distillery. Formerly sold under the brand name "Stolichnaya Cristall," this vodka 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. With a nose of rose, dry cereal and cream, this is a superior vodka. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a 5-star rating, which is the book's highest recommendation. It has won several tasting competitions (placing second in our Taste-Off in 1999).
Finlandia is made from locally grown grains (select barley) and natural spring water filtered through glacial moraine rock. The liquor apparently requires no chemical filtration and does not use chemically treated water. The result is a well-balanced and blended vodka that is deeply flavored. It is semi-sweet with creamy, biscuity flavors, with a hint of corn. 'Kindred Spirits' gives Finlandia a 4-star (highly recommended) rating. Finlandia was the winning vodka in Russian Life's 1999 International Vodka Taste Off.
This Danish vodka is produced from all-natural whole grain and pure spring water. It is distilled six times and goes through a three-step filtration, resulting in a vodka distinguished by its clean, smooth mouth feel. The vodka also undergoes a patented Freeze DistilledTM process to ensure the removal of all impurities. The name Fris (pronounced "FREEZE") is derived from the Danish words for frost and ice.
This French vodka is 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 and each bottle is handmade and depicts the grey goose in flight, with the French Alps in the backround. The liquor has a 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' gave Grey Goose a 4-star rating, and the vodka was rated #1 by the Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago, receiving a rating of 96 out of a possible 100.
This smooth Dutch vodka has a pleasing bouquet with hints of charcoal and anise. It is mildly spicy and slightly sweet with a rich texture and a long citrusy finish. 'Kindred Spirits' says it is one of the 'most complex and multilayered unflavored vodkas in the marketplace,' and gave the vodka a 4-star rating (highly recommended). 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 87 points. Ketel One was the winning vodka in Russian Life magazine's 1998 International Vodka Taste Off.
Made exclusively from organically-grown American grain and Kentucky limestone water, Rain is micro-distilled four times and filtered through diamond dust and charcoal. The product underwent a package redesign recently and now the entire package is recyclable. A gold medal winner for best tasting domestic vodka in The World Spirits Championships, this vodka is moderately full-bodied, with flavors of lavender, sweet herbs, orange peel and sesame. It has a moderately rich, silky texture.
This domestic premium vodka 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 cocoa and grain flavors and some tropical fruit tones. A light but not lightweight vodka. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a 3-star (recommended) rating.
Made with winter wheat and glacial water, Stolichnaya, the most famous of Russian vodkas, is 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 3-star rating (recommended). Smoky with a touch of fruit. 'Wine Enthusiast' gives it 87 points.
This premium domestic vodka is triple distilled and charcoal filtered. Made from grain, it has smooth flavors of wet cereal and mash. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a 3-star (recommended) rating.
This English vodka tied with Cristall for second place in our competition last year. Made from carefully selected grains, and triple distilled in small batches, 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. It is a charcoal nose, citrusy palate and a harmonious finish. Sweet and creamy. 'Kindred Spirits' gives it a 3-star (recommended) rating.
Distilled in England and bottled by White Rock Distilleries of Maine. 3 Olives is handcrafted in small batches using a 300-year-old recipe that calls for the finest English wheat. It is triple distilled and triple charcoal filtered to remove impurities.
Made from 100% wheat for smoothness and distilled five times for clarity. Neutral filtration is used to add a cool finish. The bottle is made from glass produced in Austria and designed by award winner Laura Handler.
Sources: Vermont Liquor Control Board; Kindred Spirits by F. Paul Pacult (Hyperion, New York, New York, 1997), Sante magazine, May/June 2000.