We recently saw an article listing the Top 10 Most Expensive Vodkas in the world, and it was pretty impressive. The vodkas range from over $1,000 to $1,000,000 and I’m sorry but that’s just insane. My last name isn’t Zuckerberg or Knowles, so I won’t be purchasing any of these any time soon, and to be honest you don’t become wealthy and STAY wealthy by purchasing outrageous things like that. But it got me to thinking about the debate between drinkers on whether there is a real difference between cheap and expensive vodka. While we aren’t experts on Vodka here, we’ve been around the block a lot, and are pretty well rounded on spirits in general. If you’ve ever wondered whether that Top Shelf Vodka brand is just as good as the bottom shelf, we’re here to shed a bit of light on what really matters.
So what are the Common Perceptions?
- Cheap vodka gives you head aches
- Cheap vodka gives you hangovers
- Expensive Vodka has no Burn when swallowed
- Expensive Vodka is Smoother
- The More Times Distilled the Better the Vodka
These are some of the common perceptions (or possibly myths) about vodka, and while the ideas seem to make sense, it’s not really about the price. The words “Cheap” and “Expensive” really should be replaced with “Bad” and “Good”. The big question really is why does Cheap Vodka give you headaches? One reason, it doesn’t… bad vodka gives you headaches, and it’s because its made cheaply with impurities. The other reason? It doesn’t, you just drank too much. Stop being an alcoholic.
While I’m no Vodka Expert, I’ve had over 70 different brands of vodka in my lifetime and they’ve ranged in prices from under $10 (750ML) to over $80 a bottle and though some were good, NONE were as smooth as water. Some definitely left bad after tastes in my mouth, some left me with some head aches, but for the most part it’s a big crap shoot. I’ve had $30 dollar brands that tasted like it came out of a Mexican sewer pip, and then been completely satisfied by something 15.99 a bottle. It’s really about the brand, not about the price, and the perfect example of that are “designer brands”. Brands like Trump Vodka (as in Donald Trump), Hendrix Vodka (as in Jimmy Hendrix) etc, that are pretty much just avg or below avg tasting spirits wrapped up in a shiny bottle and slapped with a big sticker price to justify the name or design. You can polish a turd all you want, it’s still just a shiny turd.
Then there’s the other big factor, vodka is suppose to be a odorless and tasteless spirit and for that reason is almost always mixed with a flavorful mixer like fruit juice. You wouldn’t take a $100 bottle of scotch or cognac and mix it with Coke would you? Who am I kidding, I’ve SEEN people make this rookie mistake a lot, usually at the club late at night trying to impress their friends. It’s DUMB, and the same should be said for vodka.
We don’t know a large percentage of people that drink Vodka straight, or even that take shots of it anymore, but that is where the big difference comes in. Have you ever noticed the marketing behind taking a ice cold chilled shot of vodka or even tequila? It’s because the ice cold temperatures ease off the burn, and the bad tastes. Drink it warm and the flavors come out, good and bad.
Our favorite thing to see on brands is how many times distilled it is. I’ve talked to a lot of vodka sales reps, vodka makers, and vodka lovers over the years. People will tell you the more times a vodka is distilled the better that is, don’t believe the hype. You can distill vodka dozens of times and it might still taste like crap because of the materials used. I’ve even been told flat out by a brand rep for a brand distilled 8 times that pretty much after 6 times it’s irrelevant. Marketing is a hell of a drug, and sometimes we’re all addicts.
So we hope this helped someone decide their next purchase, but just know that everyone’s taste is different. One man’s Grey Goose could be another man’s McCormicks. It’s a trial and error thing. Luckily we try a lot of crap and even a few hidden gems so YOU don’t have to, so we’re working on our list of best cheap vodka brands as we speak.