Vodka. We doubt you saw in the New Year with it, and it’s not everyone’s first choice of spirit for sipping straight, but it makes a cracking cocktail or mixer. Right now there are a million and one different types and flavours to choose from, so how do you find the best vodka?
We have brought together our top 10 picks for the best vodka brands you should be drinking right now. Whether you are simply buying a bottle for after-dinner drinks at home or want to find a unique gift for someone, we’ve found a fantastic range of local and international brands that are changing the way we view vodka.
For many, vodka is either tasteless or the ultimate taste of regret we’d rather forget, but these days you can get a wide variety of different vodkas to cater to your palate and even dietary requirements. With the rise of food intolerances and health trends, gluten-free vodkas and even vodkas made from milk are now available quite widely, so if you have any special requirements, keep your eyes peeled for these options.
Top 10 Best Vodka Brands in UK 2021
1. Potato Vodka – A Homegrown and Punchy Winner
We’d be remiss to leave out one of the UK’s most famous and tasty homegrown vodkas. Victorious in 2010’s best vodka in the world competition, this spirit is brewed by the same Hereford based company that gave us Tyrrells crisps. British potatoes are distilled four times in copper batch pot then distilled twice more before tempering the alcohol content with locally sourced water.
This premium vodka packs a little more punch than others like Grey Goose, so if you’re looking for conventional neutral flavours you might want to look elsewhere. However, we believe for price and quality, Chase Vodka stands out as the best of the bunch.
2. BLACK COW – Another British vodka, but this one’s made from milk
This is a unique vodka made from milk rather than the traditional potatoes, wheat or rye, and is made in the South of England. If you are a vodka lover who would like to try something a bit different, or if you have a gluten intolerance, then this is something a little quirky and different.
As you might expect from the inclusion of milk, this vodka has a smooth creamy taste which works brilliantly in long drinks and on its own. Served on the rocks, you might just find that this is a vodka you’ll enjoy drinking straight…who would have thought?!
3. BELVEDERE – Award-winning vodka from Poland
If you want a high quality vodka that you can either drink straight or mix up your favourite cocktail with, Belvedere is the one. A traditional Polish Vodka; Belvedere has won numerous blind tasting awards and is considered of fine quality but without such a hefty price tag.
It is quadruple distilled, making it taste incredibly smooth and therefore a definite winner for both vodka novices and aficionados alike. We’ve put Belvedere at our top spot due to its palatable creamy vanilla taste with a slight hint of white pepper which gives it just the right kick. If you want a middle range vodka that tastes good but won’t break the bank, this is the one.
4. Rogue wave – Best affordable vodka
If you didn’t already know, BrewDog crafts more than just beer. In fact, it has an entire spirits section filled with delicious offerings. We love the super-smooth and very affordable Rogue Wave vodka, which is distilled over seven days and filtered just once.
BrewDog proves that triple-filtration doesn’t always make for good vodka. In fact, this crystal clear spirit is incredibly easy to drink. It’s sweet on the nose with a smooth and subtle citrus taste. It finishes with a little kick of spice but is lovely both on its own and with a mixer.
5. Konik’s Tail – Best sipping vodka
Regularly rated by vodka lovers as the best sipping vodka around, Konik’s Tail is named after the wild ponies of Poland’s primeval forest. It was originally created by entrepreneur Pleurat Shabani in his kitchen, using three very different grains – spelt, rye and early winter wheat. It’s exceptionally smooth, slightly spicy and beautifully rich, with some bartenders calling it “martini in a bottle”.
For best results, freeze your martini glasses (never the vodka itself, which should be stored at room temperature), then stir it over cubed ice in a mixing glass for half a minute, before pouring into your martini glasses and garnishing with a lemon twist. Perfection.
6. Adnams Copper House Longshore vodka
If there’s one thing that Adnams know a thing or two about, it’s beer. With great brewing knowledge comes a keenness to experiment with different grains and the Adnams Copper House, a gleaming distillery which looks like the embodiment of a Jules Verne novel, has produced this vodka using barley, oats and wheat. This gives the resulting vodka a creamy but deliciously peppery note.
7. GREY GOOSE – Goes down incredibly smoothly
Grey Goose is a beautifully smooth vodka which you can drink on its own or whip up a classic Grey Goose Cosmo or Vodka Martini with. This vodka has very citrusy undertones which is generally why it is a bit easier to drink neat than many other vodkas out there.
It’s expensive, sure, but if you aren’t a fan of the harsher kick that many vodkas bring to the taste buds and you fancy a bit of a treat, then Grey Goose is one of the best easy-drinking vodkas you’ll find on the supermarket shelves.
8. Absolut Elyx – Best Absolut vodka
Absolut helped to define the vodka culture of the 80s and 90s with its modern look and distinctive taste – and we reckon this is the best of the range. Hand-made on a vintage copper still column from the 1920s, with winter wheat grown on a single estate in southern Sweden, it’s full-bodied, silky smooth and mellow.
It works superbly on the rocks, or makes a mean mixer for a cocktail, whether you’re adding a splash of ginger beer or mixing a full-blown Cosmopolitan. In a climate where people are making the move towards higher quality vodkas, this is a quality contender.
9. Haku – Best Japanese Vodka
Japanese vodka is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and after tasting this, we know why. This is by far the most subtle vodka we tasted during our group test and though the subtleness wasn’t favoured by everyone, it was agreed that it made for a beautifully drinkable vodka.
Made with 100% white rice, Haku is filtered through charcoal bamboo, which supposedly adds to its soft mouthfeel. It definitely was the smoothest, creamiest vodka we tasted and had a subtle sweetness, much like you’d expect from sticky white rice. There’s the slightest hint of pepper at the end and it’s a bit like a strong sake. This is definitely one to drink on its own, any mixer would destroy its subtle taste.
10. Russian Standard Gold – Best affordable Russian vodka
No vodka roundup would be complete without one from Russia and this brand is the market leader in the Soviet Union, as well as being the third largest vodka brand in the world. Made from the soft glacial waters of St Petersburg’s Lake Lodoga, it’s a wheat vodka that’s distilled over 200 times and therefore 100 times purer than EU regulations.
There’s a perfectly acceptable basic version for around fifteen quid, although we think it’s worth splashing out a few extra quid for the gold edition, which is just that bit more elegant, with herbs and caramel on the nose and a vanilla and cinnamon creaminess in the mouth.
How to choose the best Vodka Brands in UK 2021
Before putting your good money into your next bottle of vodka, take a look at our advice to help ensure you make the best decision for you.
Ingredients Matter When It Comes to Vodka
For this Polish-born spirit, the two base ingredients pretty much make up the whole bottle, with everything added to enhance or improve on the raw materials. That’s why it’s important to find out, if you can, what goes into your bottle of vodka.
Think About the Base Ingredient: Grains, Potatoes, Fruit or… Milk
Most vodka is created by fermenting sugary substances, usually grains or potatoes and sometimes fruit, or even milk! The ingredient used influences the quality of the drink, but there’s more to it.
The two most popular raw materials are potatoes and grains, with the former offering a more neutral flavour, making it ideal for cocktails by enhancing the properties of your chosen mixer, while the latter is valued for its subtle sweetness and smooth taste, giving you the perfect on the rocks beverage. Other brands throw some curveballs with less traditional ingredients, and we’ve included some on our top list for your perusal.
Check the Source and Quality of the Water
Water plays a pivotal role in the production of vodka, most importantly during the distillation process which tempers the alcohol content from ethanol-like down to whichever level the brand chooses – usually 40%. As water has such a big hand in the final drink you’re supping down, the source and quality of the H20 must be tip-top.
Many brands pride themselves on where their water calls home, so look into the brand story to find out. For example, one brand sources water from a deep well 500 feet beneath its bottling plant, and another pulls crystal clear spring water from its distillery grounds in Poland.
Consider the Number of Distillations
The number of distillations is another important factor that can influence the final taste of the vodka. Once the base ingredients are fermented, alcohol levels are quite low, usually between 14 to 18% ABV. Higher alcohol content requires distillers to separate the alcohol from the water while leaving the undesirable compounds behind. More distillations, therefore, equal a more neutral and clean taste.
But, tons of distillations doesn’t mean you’re buying a superior product. The magical number sits at four distillations, with too many showing that the raw materials are substandard, needing the bad stuff filtered out.
Check the Alcohol Content
Alcohol strengths vary a great deal and you need to look out for the ABV percentage, which is the standard measurement for the alcoholic content.
In the UK, the most common percentage you’ll find is 40%. if you fancy a stronger taste or prefer your tipple with a more robust flavour, look for vodka containing a higher percentage, though they’re tough to find. Likewise, it might be worth looking for a lower percentage if you don’t want a bad headache the next day.
Fancy Something a Bit Different?
Vodka may live at the top of the spirit popularity list, and how the final product is created from field to bottle plays a big role in taste and quality, but sometimes you might want a little more. Perhaps you want to veer from standard vodka and chuck in a little flavour, or are craving something fun.
Add a Bit of Flavour for Something Unique
When it comes to taste, sometimes you need to kick it up a notch. There’s a wide range of flavoured vodkas available, starting from simple fruits like green apple and blood orange, to favourites like toffee.
Vodka carries flavour well, but you want it to match the named ingredient while avoiding unnatural and artificial tastes. Buying flavoured vodka offers a simple alternative to mixing your own cocktails and infusing your own spirit, so you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your drinks integral feature.
Special Designs and Features Can Be Perfect for Parties
Giant bottles of Grey Goose filled with sparklers are a fixture on Instagram party pictures, but there are other wonderful designs ready to spruce up your party.
Bottles on the market include those in the shape of crystal skulls, pink diamonds, luminous alien heads, and more. Keep cost in mind as these products can stretch the wallet more than the standard size.
Far more goes into choosing the best vodka brands than we could have imagined. Hopefully we’ve parachuted you to safety! Whether you’re sitting down after a hard days work, partying with your friends or sharing a moment with your partner, enjoy every sip and every moment. You deserve it!