Vodka deserves a lot of credit. The neutral spirit is easily drinkable on its own and works as a base for pretty much any drink you want to make. Plus, a vodka and soda with a spritz of lime is one of the healthier ways to drink — if there is such a thing. The alcohol is also way cheaper than most of the barreled booze on the market. That makes it easy to buy really high-quality stuff without really breaking the bank.
The clear distillate is usually made from barley, rye, wheat, potatoes, or a mix of all of the above. When it comes out of the still, the grain spirit could turn into a gin or whiskey from that point. Instead of barreling or secondary distillation with botanicals, vodka is filtered again and again until all the inconsistencies are sanded down to a molecular level. That filtering is what gives vodka is ultra smooth and neutral edge. It also makes it cheap overall. Filtering takes very little time (think hours) compared to the years whiskey, rum, or brandy has to sit in storage to soak in all that wood essence.
Below are some of the best expensive bottles of vodka on the market that you can buy right now. Yes, they’re much different than the cheap vodkas, regardless of what your friend Brad told you. Why? Different techniques and processes make for different flavors. Still, none of these bottles even get close to the one-hundred-dollar mark. So, if you’re looking for refined booze at an accessible price, this might be your best play.
Chopin Polish Potato Vodka
Chopin’s Potato vodka is a great outlier in the flavor department. The vodka has a well-rounded and almost creamy texture to it. The velvety nature of the drink is offset by an earthy apple orchard hint, hiding way, way in the background. It’s slightly complex, gluten-free, and goddamn delicious.
Ketel One is straightforward vodka that works great as a shot or a base for a cocktail. The wheat distillate has an ever-so-slight sweet edge that’s complemented by a little bit of lemon zest. Seriously, try this in a Cosmopolitan and you won’t be disappointed. It’s easy to drink and you can get a liter of the stuff for less than forty bucks. You can’t beat that price point.
Russian Standard Platinum
Russian Standard is a blend of hard Russian winter wheat and super soft water from one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. That blend is filtered through silver and makes for a gorgeous vodka that ebbs slightly sweet. There’s a real sense of buttered bread here that adds a creaminess. That’s accented at the very end by an echo of sharp spiciness making this one super easy to drink. This is a complex shot of vodka that’ll leave you with a smile on your face.
Nikka Coffey Vodka
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As we said above, vodka is all about the filtering. Nikka — which is best known for their whisky — does something special with their corn and barley vodka. They filter it through a white birch charcoal, which adds a unique dimension of earthiness and sweet sap notes. This is one very interesting vodka. There are hints of ripe peaches that give way to what is best described as a bowl of corn flakes in heavy cream.
We know, that all sounds a little crazy but it’s really that cool and delicious.
Grey Goose comes from France’s Cognac region, meaning that the craft at play here is some of the best in the game. The vodka has a soft water base that pairs well with the fresh French wheat. There’s a very heavy creaminess here that ends sweet. This one isn’t necessarily the best-balanced vodka in the price range but it makes a great White Russian thanks to all that creaminess. Plus, it’s 45 bucks for a one-liter bottle. So, there’s that.
Beluga Transatlantic Racing
Beluga Transatlantic Racing vodka is one of the brightest vodkas on this list. The cotton filtered (yes, you read that right) distillate is super crisp when it hits the tongue. That’s not to be confused with that sharp alcohol edge you get with cheaper vodkas. It’s more like a burst of energy that’s underpinned by a slight sweetness. It’s just so damn good that you’ll be heading back to the liquor store to stock up on a whole case of this stuff.
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Stolichnaya Elit is one of the most filtered and, thereby, interesting vodkas on the market. All that filtering leaves the purest of distillates behind. That means the grains — which are from a specific field in Russia — shine brightly. There’s a real sense of smokey deciduous tree sap followed by a grain spiciness. That all ends with a rush of marzipan at the very end, like the distant echo of a thunderclap.
This is a shockingly delicious vodka that’ll have you questioning everything you know about vodka’s ability to be complex and flavorful.
Jean Marc XO
Jean Marc XO also hails from Cognac in France. The French wheat mash is distilled three times in Cognac stills before getting filtered through Limousin French oak. The taste of this vodka is sublime. There are hints of Far East fruit orchards and spice markets. It’s pungent yet somehow subtle. That sweet fruitiness and spicy edge give way to a svelte texture that never, ever burns. It’s delicate and delectable on every single sip.
Ciroc Premium stands out as a vodka made from French grapes. In most cases, that’d technically be a brandy of some sort but we’ll let that slide. The five-times distilled spirit has a real sense of grapes hinged on a bright citrus edge. That’s all tied up in a very pure and fine body, making this one super easy to drink. Overall, this is just an interesting and unique vodka. Moreover, it comes in a 1.75-liter bottle — meaning you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Jewel Of Russia Ultra Black
This vodka has often been called the best vodka in the world. That’s a lofty moniker to live up to. Let’s break it down. Jewel of Russia Ultra Black is a mash bill of Russian wheat and rye that’s blended with unique water from super deep artisan wells (they’re over 500 feet deep). The mash is distilled five times (most vodkas are distilled thrice). Then it’s filtered five times through paper, sand, and, lastly, a special charcoal made from peach and apricot pits.
It should come as no surprise that this is a devilishly complex and delicious vodka. There’s a white pepper spiciness on the surface that gives way to a fruity sweetness and a very pure minerality. This vodka stands out as a bold example of the greatness Russian vodka can and should possess. The best part, you can get a liter of this stuff for about 60 bucks. That’s a crazy amount of craft and care for that price.