SpiritsHandpicked by IWSC

Award-winning vodka from around the world

Top producers of the world's best vodka are letting their core ingredient's flavour shine through. Here are 14 great examples of the spirit to try - all award winners at the IWSC

Words by IWSC judges

bartending making vodka cocktail at bar
Handpicked by IWSC

Vodka saw a surge in popularity thanks to the modern craze for cocktails that kicked in around the 1990s. Back then – and way ahead of the craft gin boom – it was all about purity. Vodka producers would go out of their way to cite the natural water sources used to dilute their spirit or would detail their (often-convoluted) filtration methods of choice. The goal was to have as neutral a spirit as possible, geared towards mixing those drinks at the bar.

These days, things have moved on. Now, the best vodkas are playing on the character of whatever lies at their base – be that potato, common cereal grains, rice, whey or beyond. The thing that defines this latest wave of producers around the world is that they’re finally letting the flavour of the core ingredient do the talking.

pair of vodka martini cocktails with lemon twist

The IWSC’s results confirm this trend. Cape Verde’s Gold-medal winning Prosperous Vodka stood out for its bready notes and spicy, textured palate. It sounds vastly different to those neutral spirits of the ‘90s. Virtuous Spirits AB, Rye Vodka also scored an impressive 99 points for its ‘distinct rye nuances of spice and baking bread, along with floral orange blossom and ripe cherries, plus some layers of candied sweets,’ according to judges. Gold medals went out to vodkas from around the world, awarding bottles from Austria, Finland, Ukraine, Australia, Uganda and even the Faroe Islands.

If you find the gin world’s ever-expanding list of botanicals mystifying but you’re into the craft side of things in top spirits, these vodkas – all awarded Gold medals at the 2023 International Wine & Spirit Competition – could make for a great place to start sipping.

vodka distillery copper column stills

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.

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