You’d be forgiven for thinking that flavoured vodka is a recent invention – a natural progression on the more neutral style that people know. But in fact, the history of flavoured vodka stretches back more than 500 years.
In the early days, a hotchpotch of flavours would have been added to mask the questionable quality of the vodka, but fast forward to the present day and there is a huge diversity of innovative flavours taking the base spirit in all manner of directions, whether it’s fruity and floral, rich and spicy or something else entirely.
But it’s only in the past 20 years that flavoured vodkas have really come of age. Back in the 1980s, plain vodkas were in vogue, for cocktails such as the Cosmopolitian, Bloody Mary or Moscow Mule. Flavoured vodkas then slowly began to take hold, firstly with the fruit-led versions from Swedish distiller Absolut, then via a host of newcomers offering all manner of weird and wonderful bottlings.
This year’s IWSC saw a strong array of flavoured vodkas covering a huge range of styles. Cirka Distilleries’ Chili Vodka was a hit with the judges, scoring 98 points, and delivering a fiery chilli intensity on the palate, with a depth of complexity and character from layers of smoke and spice.
Halewood Artisanal Spirits’ Vestal Black Cherry Vodka (98/100) offers a sweeter take, with the juicy flavour of cherries: confected, stewed, fresh and preserved; while Berliner Brandstifter’s Berlin Vodka (96/100) shows off flavoured vodka’s zesty side, with fresh melon, pear, apple and chamomile on display, from nose to palate.
Every flavoured vodka at this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by an expert panel, including distiller Ian Warborn-Jones, hospitality consultant Anna Sebastian, and spirits educator Rose Brookman.
Flavoured vodkas offer a new world of tastes and aromas, with a host of exciting flavour combinations, so we’re delighted to present the best flavoured vodkas as tasted in this year’s IWSC.
How do we judge these spirits?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
How do we score these spirits?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
More from Club Oenologique
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