One of the reasons vodka has dominated the drinking landscape for so long is because it can be distilled from pretty much anything. Though potato and grain have been the de-rigeur options for 100’s of years – mostly due to economics and availability – various cultures have long made use of unique local products to produce their own version of vodka.
Fast forward to today, where the vodka market is one of the most competitive in the spirits industry, and you’ll find countless boutique distillers offering truly interesting options across the vodka spectrum. What was once a simple vodka aisle at your local liquor store has become a daunting gauntlet of choice. But fear not, we’ve assembled a list of ten unique vodkas that we feel represents the best of what’s out there (when grain and potato need not apply).
St Augustine Florida Cane Vodka: The use of sugarcane in liquor production is most closely associated with the Caribbean production of rum, but the fact of the matter is that it makes a fantastic vodka. Not to be mistaken with the sweetness of refined sugar, the result here is an almost herbaceous, grassy flavor that makes for a truly unique tasting experience.
Indigenous Fresh Pressed Apple Vodka: Made from Hudson river valley apples, this vodka is almost like an unaged brandy, crystal clear and reminiscent of apples. The finish here is dry and crisp, and though the apple flavour is almost ethereal in its lightness, this is a great alternative in cocktails to the cloying artificial apple flavoring of other ‘apple’ vodkas.
FAIR Quinoa Vodka: The first in a long line of quinoa vodkas, this is still our favorite. Crisp, clean, with a slight minerality that makes for a great mouthfeel, this vodka might not have all the health benefits of the super-grain from which it’s distilled, but we wouldn’t fault you for telling yourself that when it comes down to pouring a little heavier than usual.
Snow Leopard Spelt Vodka: Spelt, an ancient grain upon which civilizations were built, is a perfect candidate for distillation. When it comes to this version, the result is a lightly sweet, crisp liquor that’s ideal for sipping straight or over good ice. And if you’re a person that wants some idealism with their drinking, 15% of profits from the sale of this vodka go to supporting the protection of endangered snow leopards.
Comb Honey Vodka: Another product from New York’s Hudson river valley, this honey vodka is a standout product for the sheer laboriousness of its production. For anyone that’s ever bought a jar of good honey, you’ll know that it can get pricey: and with good reason, it’s hard producing it in large volumes. So to turn it into a vodka is truly an act of dedication, and the results here are nothing short of excellent.
Vermont Gold Vodka: Much like the honey vodka listed above, the production of Maple Syrup is a labor-intensive process with incredibly low yields. So when this Vermont producer takes their hard-earned sap and turns it into vodka, you better believe the final product is worth it. Clear, herbal with a faint sweetness, this is a great vodka for drinking straight up.
Broken Shed Whey Vodka: Made in New Zealand, this vodka makes use of whey, the byproduct of cheese production. We’ll save you the nitty-gritty, since whey itself is a far from appetizing ingredient, but believe us when we say the vodka is as far removed from this ingredient as possible: clean, creamy, and exceptionally smooth.
Dillons Distillery Grape Vodka: Canada’s Niagara region is renowned for its boutique wines (most notably their ice wines), so it’s no surprise that a vodka produced from grapes grown in the region would be just as award-winning. This clean, slightly sweet vodka is unfiltered, resulting in a truly authentic tasting experience that is sure to intrigue even the most seasoned vodka enthusiast.
Tito’s Corn Vodka: Probably the most well-known vodka on this list, Tito’s, which is distilled in Texas, is crafted from the finest corn. Though the ingredient may seem humble compared to others on this list, the result is anything but. Known for its exceptional smoothness (the result of copper stills), Tito’s is always our go to in a simple vodka soda. Simply perfect.
Black Cow Milk Vodka: Hailing from West Dorset, England, this vodka is crafted from milk produced by free-ranging, grass grazing cows. It results in a vodka that has a subtle creaminess, and thanks to the natural diet of the cows, a subtle grassiness that we absolutely love.