2017 Rum Howler Awards for Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2017
Last year, I pointed out that there seems to be a divide among vodka producers between those who value purity of spirit above all else, and those producers who allow their vodka spirit to express a certain level of flavour. I am firmly in the camp of those who enjoy the subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed in a cocktail. However, this past year I began to notice that some vodka makers are taking this philosophy too far.
This new phenomena appears to be part of the craft spirit movement. Using their small micro-stills the micro-producers are embracing a great deal of more flavour within their vodka spirit than I would ever have suspected. As one micro-distiller explained to me,
“Vodka doesn’t have to be a colourless odourless spirit meant only to be hid in a cocktail or tall soda drink.It can and should be enjoyed on its own, for its own sake.”
That sentiment sounds right to a point; however after tasting this particular producer’s vodka I wondered if perhaps he was merely justifying the outcome of a distilling process that (for economic reasons) did not fully rectify the spirit. The heavy congeners within the spirit certainly gave it flavour; however the flavour achieved was fusel with strong vegetal components the combination of which did not fit my paradigm of excellent vodka.
To that end, my call to all producers (new distillers and old) is that when they distill this spirit which we call vodka, the aim should be to eliminate fusel flavours and heavy congeners. That is not to say that vodka should be refined to the point of being a tasteless spirit. But the flavours that are left within should be light subtle flavours which enhance rather than dominate the vodka experience (and the cocktail experience). This may be a more expensive road to tread; but it is a road that will lead to repeat sales (and perhaps even a Rum Howler Award).
You can find out who won this years Rum Howler Awards for Vodka by following this link: