The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka
Vodka Reviews are amongst the most popular upon my website, both amongst producers who send me more vodka samples than I could ever hope to consume, and by my readers who seem to appreciate a review which incorporates not only my perception of taste and quality, but also my observations regarding cocktails and food pairings. My quirky style of vodka review appears to have struck a chord with producers as well, especially those in Eastern Europe who have told me that my willingness to bring the gastronomic experience into my review process is much appreciated.
Vodka is not (as some would have you believe) a colourless, odourless, and tasteless spirit meant only for mixing cocktails. There are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot. When served with good food, vodka also has the ability cleanse the palate between bites allowing you to taste each morsel more completely which can vastly improve the taste experience. When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of the subtle nuances of pleasure which the spirit can provide.
As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I may also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. 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. I also include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge, and I may receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.
Here are my 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Vodka:
The 2014 Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka Value
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Highwood Premium Vodka
Honourable mention to: Smirnoff No. 21
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 a Cosmopolitan and a Vodka Daiquiri). I scored my perception of the spirit as a mixer equally against the performance of the Vodka served neat at room temperature. Once I had determined the scores for each Vodka in the category I weighed these scores against the prices in my locale. Although it was very close, I determined that Sobieski Vodka was this year’s best Vodka Value .
The 2014 Rum Howler Award for the Best Mixing Vodka
and the winner is:
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 mixed three cocktails in all. On the first day, I mixed a standard Cosmopolitan recipe with each spirit and chose the best spirits to move on. Then I duplicated the process on the next day mixing a Vodka Daiquiri with each remaining spirit. Once I had established the best five spirits, I mixed a Vodka Martini with each to determine the very best. The five best spirits each received an award, however the top spirit was the incredibly silky Gold Line Vodka from Beluga.
The 2014 Rum Howler Award for the year’s Best Overall Vodka
and the winner is:
The Nominees for this category were judged in four specific areas. How the Vodka performed as a sipping spirit; how the vodka performed when served ‘shot style’ ; how well the Vodka paired with various foods; and how the vodka performed in a cocktail. I chose the Vodka Daiquiri as my base cocktail. In 3 out of the four categories the Beluga Gold Line Vodka won outright and its strong performance as a mixer guaranteed victory. This is (to this point anyway), the best Vodka I have tasted and reviewed!
This was the best line-up of Vodkas I have had the pleasure of tasting and the five Award Winners were all extremely good. These are all advertised as “Ultra Premium” spirits and I was happy that each lived up to their billing.
The 2014 Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Sobieski Vodka
The 2014 Rum Howler Award for Best Mixing Vodka: Beluga Noble Gold Line Vodka
The 2014 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Vodka: Beluga Gold Line Vodka
The 2014 Rum Howler Runner – Up Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Highwood Premium Vodka
The Honourable Mentions
The 2014 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Smirnoff No. 21