The 2012 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka
Vodka is probably the most maligned of the popular mainstream spirits. It is considered by many people to be a colourless, odourless, and tasteless spirit. In fact, these people believe the only utility Vodka possesses is that of a mixer. Up until about four years ago, my thoughts were quite similar. It was not until my friend Lukasz (who is from Poland) introduced me to the ritual of an authentic Polish Vodka tasting that I understood that Vodka is more than a mixer. There are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot. As well, when served with good food, vodka has the ability to enhance the gastronomic experience by cleansing the palate between bites allowing you to taste each morsel more completely. When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of these subtle nuances of pleasure which Vodka can provoke. I think I am doing something right, because my Vodka reviews are amongst the most popular on my website.
This Year I have separated the Vodka Awards from the Tequila and Gin Awards to give them more prominence. All of these awards are based upon side by side tastings. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. This year, for the first time ever, I also received additional industry samples specifically for these awards.
The competition is bigger and better than it ever has been, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2012 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Vodka. These Awards are for the best Vodka Spirits I encountered in the year 2012:
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured Vodka
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Magic Moment Remix Green Apple
The clear winner this year in the Flavoured Vodka Category was the entire Magic Moments Remix line-up. Of the spirits in this category, over half of those considered were Magic Moments Remix Flavours from Radico Khaitan Ltd.. including the winning spirit, Magic Moments Remix Lemon, and the first Runner up, the Magic Moments Green Apple. The Magic Moments Remix flavours are naturally flavoured triple distilled flavoured vodkas made from a long grain rice distillate. What separates them from other flavoured vodkas I have tried is how the flavours taste exactly the way they should. The amount of sweetness seems is perfect, and I detect no hints of anything artificial in the flavour profiles.
I should make it clear that the Nemiroff Rye Honey is a great flavoured Vodka as well. The quality I encountered this year in the flavoured vodka category was very refreshing.
(Considered for this award were: Magic Moment Remix Chocolate Flavoured Vodka, Magic Moment Remix Green Apple, Magic Moment Remix Lemon Flavoured Vodka, Magic Moment Remix Lemon Grass and Ginger, Magic Moment Remix Orange, Magic Moment Remix Raspberry, Nemiroff Birch Special Vodka, Nemiroff Honey Pepper Vodka, Nemiroff Rye Honey Vodka, and Zubrowka (Bison Grass) Vodka)
- The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka Value
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Tito’s Handmade Vodka
I considered two major factors in determining the Best Value Priced Vodka. The first was the Vodka’s mixability in a range of cocktail styles, (this year I mixed the Cosmopolitan and the Vodka Daiquiri), and I weighed this equally against the performance of the Vodka served neat at room temperature. I considered 8 different Vodkas in this category and during my tastings everything was close until I began my tastings of each Vodka neat. The four finalists separated themselves from the field by displaying superior characteristics when served neat at room temperature. In the final analysis, it was the Zirkova Vodka which won the day.
(Considered for this award were, Highwood Premium Vodka, Luksusowa Vodka, Marushka Vodka, Nemiroff Original Vodka, Nemiroff Ukrainian Wheat Vodka, Russian Standard Original Vodka, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Zirkova Vodka)
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for the Best Mixing Vodka
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Nemiroff Premium Vodka
For this category, I was only concerned with what made the best cocktails. I did not consider price, and I did not consider the performance of any of the spirits as sippers. I began my tasting sessions with Eleven Vodkas, separated into two flights. On the first day, I mixed my standard Cosmopolitan recipe for each vodka and chose the best to move on. Then I duplicated the process on the next day mixing Vodka Daiquiris with each spirit.
To be honest, it was very close between the Signature Herbal Infused Vodka and the Nemiroff Premium Vodka. But by the slimmest of margins, I chose the Signature Vodka as the 2012 Rum Howler Best Mixing Vodka!
(Considered for this award were Beluga Russian Noble Vodka, Citadelle 6C Vodka, Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka, Nemiroff Lex Vodka, Nemiroff Premium Vodka, Nemiroff Ukrainian Wheat Vodka, Patriot Excellence Vodka, Pristina Vodka, Russian Standard Original Vodka, Signature Vodka (MASV), Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Zirkova Vodka)
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for the year’s Best Overall Vodka
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Pristina Vodka
Honorable Mention to: Beluga Russian Noble Vodka, and Signature Herbal Infused Vodka (MASV)
The Nominees for this category were judged in three specific areas. How the Vodka performed as a sipping spirit. How the vodka performed when served ‘shot style’ and how the vodka performed in a cocktail. This year I chose the Vodka Daiquiri as my base cocktail. The surprise for me was how well the Signature Vodka performed. I may have to revisit my original review of this spirit because in this competition, it out-performed its review score substantially. What did not surprise me were the other contenders.
The winner, Patriot Excellence Vodka, was both best sipping Vodka and the best shooting Vodka during judging. Winning two of the three categories outright made its selection as the 2012 Rum Howler Best Overall Vodka a mere formality!
(Considered for this award were: Beluga Russian Noble Vodka, Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka, Nemiroff Premium Vodka, Nemiroff Ukrainian Wheat Vodka, Nemiroff Lex Vodka, Patriot Excellence Vodka, Pristina Vodka, Russian Standard Original Vodka, Signature Vodka (MASV), Slava Ultra Premium Vodka, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Zirkova Vodka)
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured Vodka: Magic Moment Remix Lemon
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Zirkova Vodka
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Mixing Vodka: Signature Herbal Infused Vodka (MASV)
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Vodka: Patriot Excellence Vodka
The 2012 Rum Howler Runner- Up Award for Best Flavoured Vodka: Magic Moment Remix Green Apple
The 2012 Rum Howler Runner- Up Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Tito’s Handmade Vodka
The 2012 Rum Howler Runner- Up Award for Best Mixing Vodka: Nemiroff Premium Vodka
The 2012 Rum Howler Runner- Up Award for Best Overall Vodka: Pristina Vodka
The Honourable Mentions
The 2012 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Overall Vodka: Beluga Russian Noble Vodka and Signature Herbal Infused Vodka (MASV)