Category: Vodka Reviews


Kettle One Vodka Smoothness

It had been several years since a customer of mine suggested I try Kettle One Vodka.  This was during the initial boom of the popularity of Vodka that resulted in this explosion of choices we now have in the marketplace.  I recall I liked it then.  However, I was relatively new to the Vodka scene, and many were good in my mind back then. So this was my first passage back to the Kettle in nearly a decade.

I was surprised by the initial impact of Kettle One.  I was expecting the bite to leap out upon first glance. To the contrary, it was as if there was not much of a taste at all. While you could certainly taste that you had a powerful vodka on the palate, it did not present that overriding chemical tastes that ends up biting the tongue in so many Vodka brands. As you the drinking experience continues, Kettle One transcends into almost a fruit taste as it finishes.  This is quite unusual for any Vodka brand. As Kettle One finishes, the aroma and the after taste introduce the more familiar chemical taste, one that is quite unpleasant. This finish just does not seem to fit with the initial smoothness of the start of the drinking experience. The second martini (for reviews, I always prepare them straight up, no fruit or twists, and shake them well and use a frozen goblet) the taste seem to jump out a bit more from the start.  Kettle One then started reminding me more of some of its brethren in the high end Vodka market.

Kettle One is a 100% wheat based product, distilled in copper tanks over charcoal. This is a bit different type of approach for Vodka distilleries. Kettle One is produced in Schiedan, Netherlands by Nobit Distilleries. It is considered in the high end Vodka marketplace, but priced a bit lower than the Grey Goose and Belvedere of the marketplace. It will run you between $45-55 for a 1.75 liter bottle, unless you live close to Mexico as I do, where I recently gave less than $20 for a 1.75 liter bottle in a border town while trying to avoid the bullets and kidnappings of the drug trade there.

Overall, Kettle One is a fine Vodka to begin your journey if you are not a normal Vodka drinker. Its smoothness is less harsh on the normal palate. I also consider this a good Vodka to mix into other Vodka related drinks.  Since it has less of an impacting taste by itself, it is a great marriage partner to mixes to make chocolate martini’s, cosmo’s, and the like

On a scale of ten, I give Kettle One a 7. Try it and let me know your thoughts


Ciroc Vodka has gained popularity in the marketplace lately with the teaming of P. Diddy, in 2007, as the pitch man for the product.  The result is a significant increase in the popularity, and stocking at your local watering hole or restaurant. This product sits in the high end market with others dominated by Grey Goose, Belvedere, and a host of other upcoming brands.


Ciroc Vodka...Interesting Taste

Ciroc is manufactured in France.  It differs from other vodkas in that it is made from grapes, more specifically, grapes from the Gaillic region of France.  This vodka is also not aged in any significant manner, which lends to a more efficient production method. Knowing this, I was interested to give this vodka a good shake down. What I found was a rather interesting taste.  If taste differentiation from other vodkas in this category is a goal, they succeeded.

The aroma is the same as other vodkas.  It does not come across quite as pungent as others. It has a clear, crisp color. Ciroc takes full advantage of this in the packaging.  I test all vodkas straight up, well shaken, and in a frosted martini glass. No fruit. The first touch of Ciroc to the palate yields a somewhat confusing taste. It starts very smooth. So smooth, in fact, that it basically lacks a taste.  It is as if your first sip is that you are drinking a slightly flavored water. This tasteless sensation lasts for a few seconds, then is followed by the more characteristic, stronger vodka taste.  Once into this taste, it is not appreciably different tasting from other vodkas in this price group that are made from grains or potatoes. The taste remains consistent until the finish. At the finish, you are overwhelmed by a more chemical taste…much like drinking gasoline. Understanding, vodka is a developed taste, and to the normal person, all vodkas have a chemical taste. But to vodka drinkers, there is a fine line of difference between this taste of the masses, and that of the subtle taste of ingredients that vodkas are made from. The finish of Ciroc fortunately does not last long before you are into the next sip where the initial taste (or lack thereof) takes over. This is a product of tasting extremes.  I am not suggesting that this product is a complete waste, but its inconsistency is a bit surprising given its placement in the marketplace.

I give Ciroc an average rating overall. I rate it about a 5 out of 10, (10 being perfect). If it was in a lower price line, I would likely rate it higher, but I consider value as well.  This is a product that is place in the higher end market.  It runs between $55-65 for 1.75 liter bottle. Try this for yourself.  You may disagree with above. I also did not try this vodka mixed.  It may work decently in specialty vodka drinks.

Either way, they are now very popular due to their aggressive marketing campaign. This is a very popular vodka among the 20 somethings out there.  Me, I just cannot quite get there…..I guess I am not a Sean P. Diddy fan.

I live in Texas. Forgive me.  Everyone in Texas has an ego the size of the member every male wishes he had. So it is not surprise that when it comes to Texas products, Texans say it is beyond approach, the cats meow, the big cahuna. Yes, you can criticize me for the last post which was carried on sister site REDDGRANITE.  But please give me a chance. I am not a Texan.  I do not care.  The product last reviewed here and and REDD was, and is, kick ass. There will be more from this family of products to follow.  But tonight, we review Tito’s handmade vodka.

Titos...You Had Better Mix It

I have to say, I do not get it.  Texans love this product.  Listed as an Austin, Texas distillery, this is actually made in Dripping Springs, Texas, about 20 miles out from central Austin, but no less scenic. It claims to be Texas’ first distillery.  OK. Word of mouth drove this product. The local reviews were stunning at best. So I had to try this mother’s milk of Vodka. I am trying not to dishearten my haste for everything that is Texas ego, and more specifically Austin (do not get me wrong, I would live in Austin in a moment, but they are quite hung up on themselves). But bottom line, this vodka falls far below 1) the standards I am used to 2) true drinkablity (read….straight up) and 3) marginal mixology. I just do not get it.  This vodka starts with a chemical burn, and the one thing that is truly consistent throughout is that the chemical burn will remain with you as long as you drink it, at least straight up, that is.  Of course, we test all our vodkas straight up. There is nothing pleasant about this vodka.  If you mix it, well, perhaps the improvement will be marginal.

The taste just never improves.  It can be said it is consistent taste, but I rate it consistently bad. Packaged in a non-descript bottle and label, this vodka, in fairness to this harsh review, is not priced to be a higher end vodka like we are accustomed to reviewing. So you will only separate about $25-30 for a 1.75 liter bottle.  Well, for you college binge drinkers, you can get a lot of mixes out of that one.  But for you vodka fans with more refined tastes, you will be disappinted. Now, is it that much worse than similarly priced offerings?  Probably not. Your basic Smirnoff, and any other like vodka is about the same.  Tito’s may still even be a bit rougher. The nly vodka I have found in this price range that is worthy is 360, from Weston, Missouri.  But this is subject to another review…so tune in.

Meanwhile, please pass Tito’s and leave it on the shelf.  I am convinced you have a word of mouth Texas connection going here that has little to do with how good or bad a vodka truly is.  Sorry Tito

I Prefer the Non Flavored Vodkas

OK.  Admittedly, I am reaching out for the easy.  We have only just begun to really review vodkas, and two thirds of my initial posts are the uber popular brands.  No worries. We will get deep, very deep in our review selections. We also will continue to populate this site with, well, vodka facts….so as a consumer, you can understand a bit about this wonderful drink

Today we look at Grey Goose.  This is a French made vodka fashioned from grain. No doubt the French will state it is the water that makes the taste. Many vodkas are fashioned from grain, so this is no problem.  Easily one of the most recognizable brands out there, the Goose has flown all over the world. Virtually any bar in the world you can call the Goose, but you will pay.  All that marketing comes with a price.

Grey Goose (click on the name for the website) starts really smooth. So smooth, the temptation is to dive in too deep at first. The smoothness rides through the palate for most of the experience, then finishes a little more roughly. The ending of the Grey Goose experience to me introduces a bit of pure chemical taste.  An unpleasant one. The hint of wheat in the initial taste run is subtle and enjoyable. Initially, you are quite unaware that you are drinking a 80 proof drink.  But when the chemical tastes kicks, you feel like it is falsely flavored ever clear, and the proof is 150.  Not what I look for in a vodka. This finish singularly has me shying away from consistently ordering it. And further, the finish begins to lob it in with the tastes of many nasty, less expensive vodkas.

The Goose took a little while, but it jumped on the band wagon of flavored vodkas as well. The flavoring somewhat seals the bad chemical finish, leaving a decent drinking experience, whether straight or mixed with your energy drink so you can amp up for a rave. But in my opinion, this merely masks the taste. I am not certain why you would want to pay the Grey Goose prices to go this route.  Get flavored Stoli or some other rot gut instead… costs so much less, and lets face it, if you are drinking flavored vodka and/or mixing them with Red Bull or the like, face it, you are there to get hammered and quantity becomes much more important than quality.

And in this case, quantity comes at much less a cost. Speaking of cost, be prepared to separate $55-65 of a 1.75 litre bottle.  This is the same pricing as my beloved Belvedere.  Problem is, I just do not think it is worth the cost. And when a eatery has only Grey Goose and no Belvedere, I am pissed…..but there you go, marketing and branding is everything.  I give Grey Goose 5 out of 10 bottles

Normally we include our reviews under our Low Budget Review category, but today’s review of Belvedere Vodka just will not fit into that category. We continue on our road to inebriation with yet another vodka review.  Recall you will also fine many reviews of Rums on this site as well.  You cannot accuse us of not providing you with all the tools to tie on a great buzz.

It is correct that Belvedere does not come cheap.  This is a vodka that is in the premium corner of the marketplace.  A 1.75 litre bottle will set you back anywhere from $55-70, depending upon your region and competition in your specific market for alcohol sales. Despite its high cost, this has been my personal favorite vodka for years.

As many of you know, the popularity of vodka skyrocketed several years back leading to a wealth of new product offerings.  It became cool to consume martini’s. The market was driven by Grey Goose.  Belvedere stepped into the mix and quickly became a popular number two in the premium space. Pushed along also by wacky celebrity endorsement Chelsea Handler, the trash talking comedian who includes constant vodka consumption as part of her branding. Handler would always state she liked Grey Goose. Enter her thirst for more money, when she approached Grey Goose to sponsor due to all of the free aire time she was giving, Grey Goose refused opening the door for Belvedere who was only too happy to kick in sponsorship dollars.

Belvedere is Polish, potato based vodka. The packaging is slick and does well to promote the product. The pop of the cork of the bottle when opening is the first stage in a pleasant drinking experience. The initial taste on the lips comes across just a bit on the chemical side. This is true with most vodka, and frankly, one of the things that overall I do not like about drinking vodka.  The goal here is that first blast will have a slight smoothness to it. Belvedere has this. As you roll the vodka back into the mouth, the slight edge give way to crisp, clean taste. The smoothness extends into the finish. Belvedere has one of the best finishes in the vodka market.  The smooth and clean taste is very consistent throughout the experience, allowing for a second before you think to slow down.

The vodka, as is all vodkas are quite potent. So the buzz factor kicks in quickly.  I like to have Belvedere in a martini, straight up with a twist, no olives or dirt, well shaken served in a goblet that has been marinating in the freezer.  Further, I like to drink my Belvedere in stainless steel goblets.  These keep the goblet cold longer and seem to help the vodka breath more. When shaking, I expect to have ice slivers in the martini. Belvedere is good over ice as well.

I do not waste good vodka on mixes, such as that for flavored offerings.  I use the cheaper vodkas for this, so those of you who wish for you pink cosmos, I cannot comment here.

The vodka, in my book, is worth the price. I do not consider it an everyday vodka because of this. I reserve it for special times and events.  This makes the appeal of the drink and the cost balance out a bit more.  Out of ten stars as the best, I give Belvedere a 9.  And when I give this rating, I am not sure what would be a 10.  All I know, it is the best vodka that I have tasted to date, in my ever expanding drive to taste my way through the entire marketplace

Well, I cannot continue to let The Rum Guy get plowed on a nightly basis in the spirit of bringing us the best rums, so I decided to jump on the Low Budget Review band wagon and review my drink of choice:  Vodka. The market for vodka has exploded as anyone knows who has been in a bar in the last decade.  Maybe the market prime has come and gone in main stream popularity.  Regardless, it is time to review some vodkas and pass on our observations.

Here we review Frozen Ghost Vodka.  In fact, The Rum Guy gave me this bottle as a gift on one of our live performances, so that I may have a bottle to go on stage with. Nice of him. With Frozen Ghost, the branding becomes of utmost importance. This vodka produced in Western Canada, presumably from the millions of miles of grain they have in central Western Canada (think Saskatchewan) is apparently all about branding. You really cannot find much about it on the Frozen Ghost Website. The PR, developed by Dallas firm Levinson and Hill, (and if you look at the states they distribute in, all southwest, you understand a bit better) has gone to great lengths to further the mystic of the brand aligning well within the supernatural theme. There is no mention of corporate on the website.  There is this silly story or legend of how the vodka came to be… is all brilliantly distant in shades of grey and black. Good going.  But it does nothing to tell me of the product.

The Mystic Is Played Up
Well let me do this for you. The packaging is consistent with the theme, and affective.  At approximately $45 for the larger 1.75 liter bottle, it is not the cheapest, nor most expensive in this crowded market. Rum Guy parted a few dollars for this gift, and I appreciate it. The aroma is standard for a vodka.  For most vodkas, if form your opinion based upon aroma, you will never drink it.  Frozen Ghost is no different. As with a lot of grain based vodkas, the goal is to produce a robust tasting vodka packed with good punch, yet with a smooth finish. Upon first taste of Frozen Ghost, the impression it leaves is a bit on the chemical side. A little rough on the front end. As you swirl in your mouth, it does create a smooth texture which leads to a quite pleasant finish. In the end, you are not aware you are drinking a potent alcohol. As you continue to sip, like most vodkas, the initial harshness wears a bit to settle into a nice relaxing  drink.  I prefer it over ice rather than martini style. However, when mixed with a slight of olive juice or vermouth, it makes a stellar martini. It does need to be well shaken, rather, violently shaken to form those thin ice slivers in your martini.  This is the optimuum set up. Let the martini air a bit in the glass after you have done the shakes.  You will be rewarded with a nice drink that goes well best prior to any meal or appetizer. Yes, this is best as its own appetizer or merely the party drink of choice when entertaining. Overall, I rate this a very pleasant vodka with a decent price point.  OK.  It is not exactly Low Budget Review friendly, but it is a good treat if you feel like parting with a few bucks.

Now  if you wish to play into the marketeer’s hands, you can go to the website at the link above and get the story of Tobias.  They try to sell this on the bottle as well. I must hand it to them, they are very stable in their approach to branding.  They will try to tell you that this vodka is from a srping on a farm in Western Canada.  Again, good stroy, but one anyone of us with half of a brain can come up with.  Don’t buy it, just judge Frozen Ghost Vodka for yourself based upon its drinkablelity, and maybe its potnetial for you to get lucky on St. Valentine’s Day.

After much deliberating, and finally finding the bottom of the bottle (a must for us reviewers), I give Frozen Ghost Vodka a 7 on a scale of 10 overall. It scores about a 6 on being drinkable, but the price point enters into the formula to raise its rating slightly.  Go out and try for yourself, and check back here often for more vodka reviews.