Vodka Tastings

vodka tastingsWine tastings have been around seemingly forever, and craft beer tastings are very popular. Now vodka tastings are gaining in popularity as well. That should come as no surprise since Technomic, Inc. research indicates that vodka is the most popular liquor in the U.S. (cited in The Wall Street Journal’sVodka Distillers Give Tours, Tastings, Honey Vanilla and Stone Fruit Flavors”).

Craft vodka distillers are popping up around the country and are offering vodka tastings to promote their product… and gain a share of a $5.5 billion U.S. market. According to the WSJ’s article, American Distilling Institute reports the number of U.S. distilleries exceeds 620, more than seven times the number a decade ago. (Also see Vodka Popularity.)

The Right Temperature for Vodka

Think of vodka and you’ll likely think of ice and cold; however, many suggest that room temperature is the right temperature for vodka. That temperature allows you to discern the subtleties of the drink. However, don’t confuse these naturally occurring flavors with the hyper-flavored vodkas that are on the market.

On the other hand, insists on cold; in fact, they suggest storing it in the freezer overnight or for a few hours (“How to taste vodka”). Forget the ice and drinking it on the rocks: Put a glass in the freezer for an hour, then pour a nice shot of frozen vodka, and let it warm slightly as you hold it. Their contention is that if it becomes too warm, the flavor becomes too complex, hiding the desired dominant flavor.

Drink Vodka Straight

Vodka has long had the reputation of being a neutral alcohol that blends with just about anything, but talk to vodka purists and the idea of using it with mixers is just plain wrong.’s Dushan Zaric writes, “… the liquor was never created for mixing – it was intended to be a food spirit.” (“How to Drink Vodka”)

That is despite the Bureau of ATF’s definition of it being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” (Cue the purists’ gasp to that statement.)

Achieving the best end product requires multiple distillations followed by further filtrations. That effort results in the greatest purity and shouldn’t be covered up with mixers or in cocktails. And forget the ice. Alcohol is an anti-freeze. It will melt ice, watering down your drink.

A vodka tasting can be a great promotional event, but keep in mind that unlike wine or craft beer tastings, total consumption is limited to only a few ounces. Less is more.