There are probably more vodka brands available today than ever before and when you are faced with such a dizzying array of options to choose from it can be difficult to choose which one to try and buy.
If you are looking for the best top shelf vodka for that ultimate taste experience you need to experience the flavor for yourself and find one that you have a preference for.
However, it is not as simple as that if you truly want to become a vodka connoisseur and there are some proven ways to sort out the diamonds from the rough and identify the brands that really deserve their exalted status as one of the most highly-rated vodkas around.
Here are some tips and strategies that you can use to emulate what aficionados of vodka tend to do when they are tasting to find which brands manage to hit the high notes.
It starts with the water
It is worth reminding yourself what the word vodka actually means as it provides a decent clue with regard to how good the vodka is going to be before it even passes your lips.
The word vodka is derived from the Russian name for water, which is voda, and a literal translation would mean little water.
The reason why this is a good pointer to the quality of the vodka you are about to taste is that the purer the water is that has been used to make the vodka, the more likely it is that the taste will be enhanced.
Of course, vodkas can be distilled in all sorts of different ways which will impact on the taste but using the purest water in the process is the sort of start that most top brands enjoy.
Not just any glass to taste with
A classic rookie error, if you are not a vodka connoisseur, would be to grab a glass from the cabinet and start to pour your vodka ready for tasting.
It is essential that you use a chilled glass if you are going to experience the vodka at its finest.
Using a chilled glass helps to bring out the natural flavors and aroma, giving you the best opportunity to savor the complexity of its taste.
Take your time
If you have done traditional shots of vodka, you may well have thrown your drink down the back of your throat in one go, but this is not the way to taste-test a decent vodka.
Small sips are advisable and swallow the vodka in small amounts too.
You should discover that a very smooth vodka will be noticeably easier to swallow than lesser quality brands and that distinguishable lack of a hard edge will provide you with a very strong pointer that you are tasting a decent vodka.
When you have finished tasting your vodka it should be stored in the fridge to keep it cold.
Don’t be tempted to put it in the freezer as the extreme temperature could easily spoil the taste of your vodka when the cold hets into it.
Use your nose
In just the same way that a wine connoisseur would use their nose to identify the subtle aromas and influences that identify a particular bouquet, the same rules of engagement apply when sampling your vodka.
Before you take a drink of the vodka from your chilled glass take a moment to raise the glass to your nose and breathe in.
Your nostrils should be able to detect a distinctly subtle aroma of grain, fruit, or spice, whatever it is that is a specific signature of this brand of vodka.
The fundamental point about this nose test is that only a pure high-grade vodka will achieve that sensory awakening in your nose.
A lesser vodka will most likely fail under the scrutiny of being offered up to your nose.
Learn how to taste the difference
The good news is that it takes time to develop your skills in identifying top-quality vodkas, which means plenty of regular practice!
What you are trying to do when you taste the vodka is to pick out any subtle nuances and specific taste influences.
This is also the same sort of skill that wine tasters develop, the only difference being is that vodka will reveal flavors influenced by the ingredients used to create the drink, which is primarily, corn, rye, potatoes, and wheat.
Learning how to identify different subtleties in each vodka you are tasting is a skill that you have to develop over a period of time and the only way you are going to able to get to connoisseur level is with plenty of regular practice.
Once you get the hang of trusting your taste buds to reveal the characteristics of each different brand of vodka you will almost certainly hone your skills and be able to decide which ones you like and dislike with a few sniffs and sips.
Leave the mixers to the amateurs
Without wishing to appear rude or superior about the rules of vodka tasting you can’t really expect to aspire to have professional vodka tasting skills if you drown the flavors out with a mixer.
The one and the only way you can identify whether you are drinking a top vodka is to enjoy it in its naked state, without anything added like a mixer or ice, which shouldn’t be needed anyway if you have properly chilled the glass.
The art of becoming a vodka connoisseur is to take your time savoring every sip and enjoying the drink for what it is in its purest form, rather than viewing it as a shot or a base for a cocktail or mixed drink.
If you already enjoy and appreciate a drink of vodka you have the skills within you to take that level of appreciation to a new level and always remember that the reason that someone becomes an expert in their field is that they devote time and energy to pursuing their passion.
Drink sensibly, of course, but you could definitely have a lot of fun and enjoyment in the pursuit of your desire to become a vodka connoisseur.