The word Vodka comes from voda, the Russian word for water. But as our top ten vodka list shows, the spirit is now made and enjoyed around the world. We feature vodka from France, New Zealand, and even Switzerland, known for its neutrality, is making this neutral spirit. Find your favorite on our Top 10 Vodka list, and suggest changes to it in our forum. We're always happy to taste new vodkas!
10. Reyka Vodka
Origin: Iceland; $25Reyka comes from Iceland; so does Björk. We dig Björk, so of course we figured we'd best try Reyka. It's great vodka. Not The Sugarcubes' "Life's Too Good" great, but a damn sight better than Björk's soundtrack for "Dancer in the Dark." Clean and markedly smooth, Reyka is produced with glacial water that scientist types have declared "impurity free." That kind of clarity is most mixable, the key attribute of any vodka in this cocktail-crazy world in which we live.
9. U'luvka Vodka
Origin: Poland; $60
"U'luvka" is Polish for "legless," referring to a style of crystal vodka glasses favored by the seventeenth century King Sigismund III of Poland and his court. That august body reportedly enjoyed a premium vodka that allowed them to make merry all evening long, yet were still able to attend to state business the next day. We like this smooth sipping vodka in the unique twisted bottle for similar reasons. Will you love U'luvka? We think so!
8. Jean-Marc XO
Origin: France; $50
Vodka from Cognac? Why not? Jean-Marc XO comes in a stylish flask-shaped above average quality, and it delivers. Four varieties of French wheat comprise the source material, and this vodka undergoes distillation a whopping nine times before it is micro-oxygenated and charcoal filtered.
7. Chopin Vodka
Origin: Poland; $30
Any vodka named after a revered classical composer can't be bad, right? Chopin, the tunesmith, pushed the accepted procedures of classical dissonance and key into previously unexplored territory (as did our vodka imbibing while researching this report). Behold, a potato vodka of the highest order. A little oily, with a hint of lemon-lime when you swish it around in your mouth, Chopin delivers just enough burn on the way down the gullet to reinforce the notion that you are, in fact, a grown-up drinking a big-people drink.
6. Xellent Vodka
Origin: Switzerland; $37
The Swiss are known for their neutrality and they’ve excelled in producing the neutral spirit Xellent. Switzerland’s first and only vodka lives up to its name. Made from water from a glacier and rye, it is triple distilled until it is as pure as the Alpine snow.
5. 42 Below Vodka
Origin: New Zealand; $30
Call 42 Below "the vodka from Down Under." This New Zealand product tastes remarkably clean and smooth because it uses water from a top-rated deep spring. The name refers to both the location of the distillery — 42 degrees below the equator — and its alcoholic strength: 42 per cent (also called "degrees" in other countries) rather than the usual 40.
4. Grey Goose Vodka
Origin: France; $30
The French have never had much use for such prosaic qualities as humility, so it's no wonder they have anointed their biggest-selling vodka as the world's "best tasting." It's that very cocksureness that makes us love them so. And the truth is that any serious conversation about the finest vodkas available should include Grey Goose, if for no other reason than it is one of two brands (the other is Absolut) that propelled the worldwide premium vodka craze. But there is another reason: pure vodka deliciousness.
3. Crystal Head Vodka
Origin: Canada; $48There's the skull-shaped bottle, mysterious archaeological back story and unique diamond filtration process. Ah, but what sets Crystal Head vodka apart from other brands is this wonderfully wacko promotional video featuring the brand's founder, comedian and New Age proselyte Dan Aykroyd. Watch it now. It's priceless! The vodka itself has character, too. Smooth, with a little bit of burn. Some licorice on the finish that tends to linger. And who doesn't love lingering licorice?
2. elit by Stolichnaya
Origin: Russia; $60
Don't confuse Stolichnaya elit with its popular older brother "Stoli." This grain-based beverage is triple-distilled and undergoes a unique freeze filtration process which brings its temperature down to -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit). As the liquid's density increases, it becomes easier to identify and remove impurities. The result: great body and texture, and a distinctly clean aftertaste.
1. Kauffman Luxury Vintage Vodka
Origin: Russia; $225
"Awesome," Christian Navarro, sommelier to the stars, says of Kauffman Luxury Vintage Vodka. "Great texture and flavor." The pricy stuff is stocked at Wally's, his West Los Angeles fine wine and spirits store. While vintage designations usually appear only on wine, Champagne and the occasional Armagnac, the Russian company behind Kauffman believes there’s enough variation in each year’s wheat crop to justify its use as they will only produce their vodka in superior years.