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Flavored Vodkas That Are Actually Worth Drinking This Summer

Vodka is an interesting spirit. It’s not matured like whiskey and carries the undeserved perception that every bottle tastes exactly the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that some vodka features a clean, dry, almost ethanol flavor that’s best suited to use as a mixer and some are downright harsh, hot, and seemingly flavorless, high-level vodkas often feature bready, sweet, malty, or even subtly citrusy notes.

This clear, unaged distilled spirit is made by distilling corn, rye, wheat, potatoes, various fruits, or even honey. Most often enjoyed neat or in a mixed drink like a Moscow mule, martini, or vodka soda, vodka is also surprisingly versatile. If you’re looking to let secondary ingredients take the lead on a drink, it’s a cocktail maker’s dream. An it only gets more mixable when you flavor it.

Of course, as with all flavored spirits, there are quite a few cloyingly sweet duds on the market. Expressions that taste more like sugary, chemically-produced swill than actual vodka. But as the spirits business has boomed, so has the craft. These days, many brands actually do manage to produce nuanced, high-quality flavored vodkas. Check out some of our favorites below.

If you think you might like to try a few of these, make sure to click on the price links.

Breckenridge Pear

Breckenridge

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $21

The Vodka:

Breckenridge, Colorado is an outdoors fan’s dream. Skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, it has it all. The area is also home to a renowned brewery and Breckenridge Distillery. While the distillery is well known for its bourbon, you definitely shouldn’t sleep on its flavored vodka. Especially its pear vodka. This pear brandy-based vodka is sweet, fruity, and well-suited for mixing into your favorite vodka-based cocktails.

Tasting Notes:

Right away, you’ll be struck by the aromas of Palisade pears, slight ethanol, and overall pleasant fruitiness. The flavor is like biting into a juicy, ripe pear, thanks to real pears being used in the distilling process. There’s no chemical, fake pear flavoring in this stuff. The finish is sweet, warming, and lingers for just the right length.

Bottom Line:

Pear isn’t a flavor we usually associated with vodka, but maybe we should. The ripe, juicy notes work well as an alternative to usually citrus-fueled vodka tonics. – Christopher Osburn

Absolut Citron

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $19.99

The Vodka:

No flavored vodka list is complete without Absolut Citron. Launched way back in 1988, Absolut Citron quickly became the best-selling flavor from the iconic Swedish brand. All these years later, it still is. Known for its subtle, citrus zest flavor, this renowned vodka is a great base for vodka martinis and Moscow Mules.

Tasting Notes:

Taking a simple sniff of this vodka will reveal aromatic notes of Meyer lemons, lime zest, and just a hint of sweet, winter wheat. The flavor is more of the same, with lemon being at the forefront. But while this is a citrus-centric vodka, it’s not overwhelming and still has a clean, dry finish.

Bottom Line:

While we mentioned its prowess in the above cocktails, Absolut Citron is most often linked to lime juice, Cointreau, and cranberry juice for a vodka-based cosmopolitan. – Christopher Osburn

Hangar 1 Rosé

Proximo Spirits

ABV: 30%

Average Price: $30

The Vodka:

Hangar 1 has made a name for itself in the vodka world over the past decade. While you’ll be totally happy grabbing a bottle of its flagship vodka, if you really want to ramp up your spring drinking, you’ll purchase a bottle of its Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka. Since sometimes we can’t decide between a glass of rosé and a vodka cocktail, we like to keep a bottle of this mixture of Hangar 1 Vodka and California rosé wine on hand at all times.

Tasting Notes:

For a rosé vodka, it’s surprising floral in the aroma department. There are also notes of fresh fruits and berries. The palate is swirling with ripe berries, grape-like flavors, and a nice woody oak finish that will make you want to come back for a second sampling. A truly unique vodka, it bridges the gap between wine and vodka drinkers perfectly.

Bottom Line:

When you crack open a bottle of Hangar 1 Rosé, you might not immediately know how to use it. It works well in a classic vodka tonic or as the base for a very unique, flavorful martini. – Christopher Osburn

Effen Black Cherry

Sazerac Company

ABV: 37.5%

Average Price: $20

The Vodka:

If you know anything about Effen Vodka it’s that 50 Cent has served as the main brand ambassador for the Dutch brand for years. During that time, he’s beefed with P-Diddy about his rival vodka brand and bragged about making $60 million in his deal. But, even with all that fanfare, the vodka is… actually pretty good. This is especially true about Effen Black Cherry. While citrus is usually the go-to vodka flavor, this highly mixable vodka is made with natural black cherry and Madagascar vanilla beans.

Tasting Notes:

Like many fruit-centric vodkas, the nose is really fruity with strong dried cherry scents and just a hint of subtle vanilla beans. Taking a sip reveals more ripe cherries, light berries, vanilla cookies. The finish is mild, mellow, slightly warming, and ends with a lot of pleasing sweetness.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy cherry and vanilla, you’ll love this vodka. It will give your favorite vodka a fruity, cherry kick that you won’t soon forget. We suggest using it in a classic vodka gimlet, screwdriver, or sea breeze. Or just mix it with an Italian cherry soda. – Christopher Osburn

Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka

Polmos Białystok

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

The Vodka:

Poland’s Zubrowka is one of the most subtly flavored herbal vodkas on the market — so much so that you might not even know it’s flavored while you drink it. The vodka is based on bison grass that grows on the Białowieża Forest, which stretches from Eastern Poland into Belarus and is Europe’s last primeval forest. Bison and wolves still roam between its ancient, mossy trees.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a mix of honey, freshly shorn wheat fields, and a note of lemon citrus with a hint of almond. The taste very much keeps hold of those notes as the grass sweetens and a creamy texture leads towards a distinct pistachio essence. The end of the sip feels a bit like a lemon cake with a creamy, pistachio-filled frosting.

Bottom Line:

This is a bottle of vodka that’s always in my freezer. It’s a phenomenal flavored vodka. In fact, I’d call this the best-flavored vodka there is. It’s subtle. Delicious. And you still know you’re drinking vodka with every sip. – Zach Johnston

Stoli Lime

Stoli Group

ABV: 37.5%

Average Price: $20

The Vodka:

Stoli is an all-around classic Russian vodka. The mix of wheat and Latvian spring water makes for one of the most drinkable spirits in the biz. Their new-ish release, Stoli Lime, uses lime oils to imbue a bright and vivid lime essence to the vodka without adding any sugars or syrups. You’re getting pure vodka with the pure essence of lime.

Tasting Notes:

“Vivid” is the word that keeps coming to mind. You’re greeted with a rush of bright lime oils from the moment you open the bottle. The taste has the dry grassiness of Stoli with light creamy vanilla that’s brightened by the addition of vibrant citrus oils and tartness. The end isn’t long but it is very soft and illuminating while leaving you with the feeling of a real lime.

Bottom Line:

This is an essential bottle to have on hand for bright summer cocktails or highball, especially a cosmopolitan. – Zach Johnston

Deep Eddy Ruby Red

Heaven Hill

ABV: 35%

Average Price: $18

The Vodka:

Texas’ Deep Eddy is a much-lauded craft vodka. The ten-times distilled spirit is cut with Ruby Red grapefruit juice and a dose of sugar cane syrup. The mix edges very close to an RTD (ready to drink) spirit. You really don’t need to add much to this stuff to make it pop.

Tasting Notes:

The Ruby Red grapefruit comes in tart, sweet, and strong from the nose through the palate to the end. The sweetness is there but makes sense against the grapefruit juice. The vodka stays very neutral since, let’s face it, grapefruit juice is a lot to get through. Still, this ends up being bright and refreshing without being overly sweetened.

Bottom Line:

Add some fizzy water and ice to this and you have the perfect summer highball. You really don’t need to go beyond that recipe. It’ll be amazingly refreshing and really hard to get tired of. – Zach Johnston

Smirnoff Spicy Tamarind

Diageo

ABV: 35%

Average Price: $15

The Vodka:

Smirnoff is a vodka that really suits jazzing up with bold flavors. In this case, the addition of sweet and slightly funky tamarind paste and a bushel of hot chilis makes for a great base vodka.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a rush of that chili spiciness and an underbelly of sweetness. There’s almost a bitterness at play that lends a chili-choco vibe that’s very light and slightly boozy. The end will leave you with a slight burning from the chili but nothing overly hot.

Bottom Line:

Put this in a Bloody Mary immediately. – Zach Johnston

EDITOR’S PICK: Ketel One Botanical: Peace & Orange Blossom

Kettle One

ABV: 30%

Average Price: $25.99

The Vodka:

I actually like the whole “Botanicals” line from Ketel One. The language and marketing are basically that of high-end gin or La Croix. Lots of talk of “essence” — which basically means a reduction, distillation, or extracted oils, depending on the ingredient. In this case, it’s white peach and orange blossom. Pretty straightforward, with the devil being in the details.

And the details seem pretty solid here. Lots of craft, a solid dose of flavor, and not a lot of sugar. What more do you want from flavored vodka?

Tasting Notes:

The peach on the nose is so pungent and so un-chemical. It’s really dreamy, like opening a jar of peaches prepared last season by a friend. The palate is more mellow. You get white peach, fresher and less stewed than it was on the nose, plus delicate orange notes. There’s natural heat from the vodka and a nice dose of minerality. That minerality is really the dominant flavor on the finish — with the peach fading quickly and the orange dissipating next.

Bottom Line:

If you’re spiking a jug of iced tea this summer, this is the bottle to reach for. – Steve Bramucci


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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