My assistant Joe asked the other day what vodka he should be buying and taking home, my reply, as a dedicated whisky guy, was none, if you work for me youre not allowed to drink vodka.
There is a tremendous price range and amount of competition in the vodka category, which seems odd for a spirit whose legal definition is after all neutral spirits distilled or treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color. Ouch, doesnt say much for those products at the higher price points! But being dedicated to our craft, and to playing around, we did something I would encourage everyone to try out with their dedicated vodka drinking friends, a blind tasting.
Have 6 or 8 vodkas poured blind, neat and at room temperature, at the widest range of price points possible (we did a quickie, 4 bottles retailing from $10.99/1.75L to $50/750ml.) Try to do a budget brand, 1 or 2 competitive domestics, 1 or 2 old line European brands, and 1 or 2 boutique brands. The more famous the better.
Guess what? When you cant see the bottle and be influenced by the pretty glass or the opinion of your favorite singer, or the price, your tongue and nose might shock you. Ive actually done this a few times with consumers, inspired by a published tasting from the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago, and done truly blind, the expensive, trendy, and iconic has never been close to being picked as the best of the tasting.