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Vodka tasters say smoothness over flavor when comparing brands

on 19/09/11 at 10:48 am


“Something funny happened after I wrote my article on the new generation of Montreal bartenders last summer: booze companies figured I was now delving into the world of hard alcohol.

Samples started arriving, and I soon had more hard alcohol than I knew what to do with.

I do love Scotch and eau-de-vie like grappa, but for the rest, I was at a bit of a loss about what to do with all these bottles.

What did I receive most? Vodka. While I love my Bloody Caesar, I must admit that I just don’t drink much of the stuff. I tried a few vodkas with my Caesar, but there was no perceptible difference in taste. Add to this what two of the bartenders told me about vodka last summer: “It all kind of tastes the same.”

But true vodka lovers have a preference.

When I worked the restaurant floor, patrons would emphatically demand their brand. So is there really a difference between them? It was time to do a taste test, so I gathered my tasting panel to see if there really is a difference between vodkas, and whether or not an expensive vodka is better than a cheaper one.

So what are the main differences in the production of vodka?

The first is the starch that is used as the primary ingredient to make the initial mash – a mushy mix of water and whatever grain/starch is used. The vast majority of vodkas are made with barley or rye, while some, like Chopin, are made with potatoes.

The second is the number of times the alcohol is distilled, or heated. The more times the booze is distilled, the more concentrated it gets and the more “impurities” are removed.”


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