Host a Vodka Tasting

15 Dec

I’m a big fan of blind tastings, so you can imagine my excitement when a vodka loving coworker of mine suggested a vodka tasting at his house.  We gathered one fateful November eve, made sure our stomachs were full of cheese balls and salted chocolate caramels (no vodka tastings on an empty stomach!) and proceeded try the five vodkas our fine host provided- Stoli, Grey Goose, Absolut, Smirnoff and the cheapest of the cheap, Kamchatka, a brand I’d never heard of before but was told cost $7 and came in a plastic bottle.  Classy.

the tasting scorecard

We each had a piece of paper with the labels of the five vodkas and our job was to try and determine which vodka we tasted was which.  We tasted them all, made our guesses, chose our favorites, revealed which vodka was which and tallied the number we got correct.  The winner was to receive a medal made by yours truly and a gift bag of goodies assembled by our host.


In the end, the winner correctly guessed three of the five vodkas, the runner up two, the third place one and the big loser guessed no vodka correctly.  The winner was our illustrious host, who also labeled and poured the vodkas into their tasting vessels (cleaned identical beer bottles).  Now I’m not accusing him of cheating, but theoretically it wouldn’t have been hard for him to put some secret identifiers on the bottles that only he would recognize.  Just a hypothetical.  The runner up was my sweetheart Shawn, who won the gift bag since our lovely host felt wrong taking the prize he assembled himself.

Pinning the medal to the winner

For me, there were two big surprises.  The first was that I thought Stoli tasted awful. It was the first one we tried and we were all sure it was the crappy cheap vodka.  Not so.  The second surprise is that my number one favorite vodka of the evening was the bottom shelf plastic bottled Kamchatka, which despite its scampy appearance was, in my opinion, tasty and smooth.  Smirnoff was my second favorite.  Stoli my least favorite.  Absolut and Grey Goose were tied for third place.  That’s right kids- when it comes to vodka preferences, I’m a bottom to middle shelf girl all the way.

Our gloating victor and his handmade medal

You, too, can hold your own vodka tasting easily and relative cheaply.  Invite a few friends over and ask each one to bring a vodka of their choice.  Assign each vodka a number. Pour each vodka into identical vessels (such as a ball jar or cleaned beer bottles of the same brand) and label the jar or bottle with the vodka’s assigned number in a place that can’t be seen (the underside of the bottle or on a piece of paper folded and taped to the side).  Have each guest taste the vodkas, guess which vodka is which brand, and which choose which vodka is the tastiest.  You can get wild with fun score cards if you’re feeling frisky and award prizes for folks who guess the most correctly or for the person who brought the vodka most people liked the best.  It’s a fun way to find what you really like and see how different something as seemingly indistinct as vodka can be.

photos by Shawn Poynter


One Response to “Host a Vodka Tasting”

  1. Virginia December 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    My spouse and I spent 27 months in Ukraine (Peace Corps) -> that’s where I learned about vodka. There are serious protocols about drinking vodka in countires of the former USSR! Vodka is part of the fabric of their lives. No one escapes without learning something about it. Well, I digress….just wanted to say I enjoyed your post and will seek out the Kamchatka brand!

    Sippin’ Coffee in Rural SC

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