It’s a pretty bold thing to send a journalist three unmarked bottles of a spirit and ask them to chose a winner among them. What happens if your spirit gets picked last? The folks over at Smirnoff Vodka clearly believe that their vodka can stand shoulder to shoulder with other premium vodkas on the market and not only do well in a head to head competition, but win it.
We decided to take the Smirnoff Vodka Challenge and see how three notable and secret vodkas compare.
Our first contender has a distinctly sweet and vanilla nose. It’s soft and pleasant and extremely inviting. The entry is very soft and sweet with distinct vanilla tones backed by very soft and subtle grain tones. There’s very little heat with this vodka and the finish is as smooth and easy as the entry. After drinking vodka “A” we had a distinctly sweet taste left in our mouth. It’s an affable vodka and one we’d absolutely consider drinking.
Next up we have a vodka with a more grainy nose, with a little bit of a floral, fruity undertone, but very subtle. The entry is much more grain forward, big taste with nice floral mid tones. There’s a little bite in the finish and the grain flavor really lingers as the heat fades and leads to a nice cool clean mouth. With this vodka you get less vanilla and more grain. There’s a nice complexity, and again it’s a vodka we’d definitely drink again.
Our final vodka has a very subtle nose with just a hint of grain. The entry of this vodka is soft with some nice vanilla notes that pair with an undertone of grain notes. This vodka has an inherently clean feeling in the mouth and the finish carries the flavor along with a nice cool and clean finish. This vodka captures some of the great sweet tones from vodka “A” and the complexity of “B”, and a little bolder on the finish.
Although it was a tough call between the three, we picked vodka “C” as our #1 pick, vodka “B” for our #2 and vodka “A” as our #3. All three of these vodkas were pleasant, well made, and ones we’d drink again.
Then came the time for the big reveal:
The winner of the Smirnoff Challenge is (drum roll please):
Smirnoff Vodka! It’s a little bit of a surprise to us given that Smirnoff sells for $13 a bottle, compared with Absolut Vodka at $17 and Grey Goose at $26. Smirnoff delivered a lot of what we love in a good vodka, combining nice sweet flavors with the base grain and a finish that both felt clean and had some good flavor.
Smirnoff is one of the top selling white spirits in the US and ranks high across the world. This is one of those unique intersections where one of the best selling is also one of the best. Smirnoff showed some real confidence with this challenge and after taking the challenge we can see why. At the price it’s hard to see how it can be beat.
The Smirnoff Vodka Challenge by Geoff Kleinman