For decades, US regulations for vodka It dictates that it be neutral: no smell, no taste, nothing. Literally, the rules state: “Vodkas are neutral spirits that are distilled or processed after distillation with charcoal or other substances, so that they do not have a distinctive character, odour, taste or color.” Neutrality has defined vodka to the point that Smirnov Advertisements from the ’60s claimed that “this leaves you breathless”—meaning that no one will be able to smell the alcohol on your breath after your lunch of three martinis. But the official US standards for vodka changed last year, as a quiet shift in the rules scrapped the neutrality requirement. The door is now open for brands that get a taste of something. Fresh apple fruit, perhaps, or the tender sweetness of honey. Maybe even an earthen potato or an oily glossy olive. The craft of vodka is having a moment.
We’re not talking about flavored vodkas—the sweet, fruity, or spicy concoctions you might have warmed up for in college. This is a serious vodka that rewards discerning palates, even those who drink whiskey. By featuring an array of basic ingredients, with no added flavors, this vodka expands the horizons of familiar cocktails like vodka soda and martini. You can even sip it in style as bourbon, tequila, or rum.
Can’t believe it? Pick up a bottle and taste for yourself.
The best non-neutral Kraft vodka
1. Unfiltered vistal
Much of the world’s vodka is made from potatoes, but most of the time it’s distilled to prove there’s no way to know. Poland-based Vestal takes a different approach. With the goal of highlighting the unique personality of each harvester, brand founder William Burrell selects and distills young potatoes from his family’s farm, packaging some of each year’s produce as vintage under the Unfiltered label. Wet soil and the scent of mushrooms waft from the glass and carry over to the palate that is earthy, round, and plump. Additionally, it has a natural flavor that makes it a potential substitute for rum in a variety of cocktails.
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