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Potter’s Premium Vodka

Review: Potter’s Premium Vodka  (84/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published March 10, 2015

In November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries which had been founded founded by Ernie Potter in 1958. The corn-based brands which Potter’s had established (Century and Potter’s) were added to the Highwood portfolio. Today Potter’s Premium Vodka is produced at the Highwood Distillery in High River, Alberta. This distillery is situated near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 40 minutes south of downtown Calgary.

According to the company website:

The careful repeated distillation of quality grains creates the base of Highwood’s Vodka brands. The pure, clear spirits are filtered and blended with fresh Rocky Mountain spring water to create our clean, crisp Vodkas.

When I tasted the Potter’s Premium Vodka for the first time it was as part of a flight of four vodkas my friends (the Rum Chums) and I were sampling at my first Vodka Tasting of 2015. We chilled all of the Vodkas in my deep freeze such that there were all at about 2 degrees Celsius when we sampled them. Each vodka was served individually in a shot glass, and I kept track of what my friends were saying during the tasting. From their comments and my own personal notes, I constructed this review.

Potter’s Premium Vodka is a corn-based vodka bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Potters_Vodka_shadowThe First Impression 8/10

The Potter’s Premium Vodka arrives in the bottle shown to the left. This is a typical “bar room” style bottle designed to be easy to hold, easy to pour, and easy to store on the bar shelf. I like that the bottle has some textured surface above and below the label as this makes the bottle easier to grip when it is cold or wet.

The label is better than I typically have seen on other value priced Highwood products, the colour scheme is easy on the eyes, and everything is easy to see and read. As well, the back label of the bottle includes this comment with respect to vodka in general:

Clean and Smooth, straight or mixed, it’s the drink of famous spies, Kamikazes, Harvey Wallbangers, and Black Russians worldwide. Join the club with Potter’s Premium Vodka!

I appreciate the unpretentious nature of this comment which is intended to tickle the funny bone just a little. Highwood is not taking themselves or their vodka too seriously. They are however, subtly making the point that they feel this vodka is suitable for both sipping neat, or mixing fun cocktails which is quite a claim for a Vodka which does not carries a price tag that puts it closer to the economy class than the luxury class.

The First Sip 17/20

In the shot glass, the Potter’s Vodka displays light wispy bits of spice, a touch a citrus zest, and a mellow sweetness in the air which reminded me of corn. As I sipped upon the cold spirit, my impression was that this is a relatively smooth vodka especially considering its price point. I taste a light but firm flavour of lemon balsam and some hints of lime zest spice within the soft corn sweetness. There is also a whisper of briny salt and some fine white pepper spice which tastes quite nice.

After I swallowed, I felt that the vodka brought forward a light corn syrup sweetness through the finish with just a hint of spicy burn which was not unpleasant. In fact for a vodka that occupies the mid to low price tier, this is very good! The spirit appears to be fulfilling that claim of smoothness and sippability which I found upon the back label.

Taking a Shot  17/20

When I took a deeper mouthful and swallowed a Vodka shot, the spirit demonstrated more of that delicate corn sweetness in its finish which I had enjoyed while sipping. Everything was smooth with only a hint of burn, and this is definitely a vodka spirit which I can enjoy not only when I sip it cold, but also as shooting Vodka.

Several days after the tasting session with my friends, I sampled Potter’s again on my own; but this time at about 20 degrees Celsius. At room temperature the vodka displays a firm grassy lemon flavour in its aftertaste; however the corn-like sweetness remained to compliment this lemon-like flavour. Although there was some more burn creeping into the experience at the warmer temperature, and some metallic aftertaste, I was impressed because I was expecting the structure of the spirit to crumble completely at room temperature; it may have slumped, but to my delight, it retained most of its structure.

Out for Dinner 17/20

At the tasting, I served my lightly salty, lightly spicy pepper pot soup, and my friends brought a variety of snacks which included, pepperoni sticks, mozzarella and cheddar cheese chunks, an antipasto platter with olives and pickles, small slices of pepperoni pizza, and light rye bread. It was a good selection of food to sample while tasting vodka. The Potter’s spirit tasted just fine with all of the pairings, and especially good with my pepper pot soup and the rye bread. Nobody noticed any strange aftertaste associated with any of the foods nor with the Vodka as they sampled the two together. The bread tasted lightly sweeter, and the mild spicy saltiness of the soup seemed particularly enhanced. Potter’s Superior Vodka seems to be particularly well suited as a complement to good food.

Cocktails  25/30

When I mixed a cocktail for my guests, I made a Vodka Daiquiri with each spirit we sampled, and we all enjoyed the lightly sweet cocktail that resulted from the Potter’s Premium. Potter’s seems to bring that light corn sweetness we noticed in its flavour profile right into the cocktail experience. Afterwards I mixed a couple of the cocktails suggested on the back label of the bottle, a Kamikaze, and a Harvey Wallbanger and both were nice bar drinks. I felt that the Potter’s spirit could make a more refined mixed drink, and my attempt at such is shown below.

Potter’s Premium Vodka has fulfilled (and perhaps exceeded) all of my expectations. The spirit was very good in every format in which I sampled it, and one of my guests, Jeremiah, summed up our experience quite well. He mentioned that in his experience Highwood is one of Canada’s under appreciated distillers. They produce high quality spirits at very attractive prices for the consumer. Potter’s Premium Vodka is a good example of their craft.

I couldn’t agree more!


Final Score 84/100

(A very good overall Vodka, at a great price)

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Here is a rather elegant cocktail of mine which uses four fruit flavours and tastes absolutely yummy. I call it the Emissary.

Emmissary SAM_1460The Emissary

1 3/4 oz Potter’s Premium Vodka
3/8 oz fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
3/8 oz fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 oz fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice
3/8 oz sugar syrup
Orange peel (pith removed)

Add the Vodka, the fruit juice and sugar syrup, into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Tie a long strip of fresh orange peel into a bow and drop it in for garnish

Note: If  you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


The Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Vodka. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are still preferable.
85-89 Excellent! Shots or cocktails!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:

70 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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