A Journey Back To Vodka’s Roots
As we’ve discussed in past posts, one of the reasons vodka is so versatile is because you can distill it from pretty much anything. One of the oldest of these ingredients was the humble potato. For reasons of both abundance and economics, the potato is basically the Rosetta Stone of this spirit, giving us a glimpse into how early distillers perfected the production of vodka from what`s still considered a notoriously difficult ingredient to work with.
Though potato vodkas fell out of favor as less labor-intensive grain vodkas flooded the US market, many connoisseurs still consider it the ultimate vodka tasting experience; with a more robust mouthfeel and a wider range of flavor profiles from brand-to-brand than more homogeneous grain offerings.
So as you set off to explore the world of potato vodkas, here are a 10 of our favorite potato vodka brands or a unique vodka tasting experience.
1. Reyka: Distilled in Iceland, Reyka is unique as a vodka because it comes from a country where almost no distilling ingredients naturally grow. Crafted from imported European potatoes, this vodka is filtered through local volcanic rock for increased purity.
2. Chopin: One of the first ultra-luxury potato vodkas, Chopin is renowned as a so-called `straight sipper`: a vodka with a taste so pure and clean that it can be enjoyed right out of the bottle. Filtered four times, this vodka is a great entry point for those uninitiated with potato vodkas.
3. Grand Teton: Crafted in the United States, this vodka uses premium, locally grown, Idaho potatoes, combined with water sourced from the Rocky Mountains to create a truly exceptional tasting experience. This is a great option for those looking to explore the burgeoning American craft vodka movement, especially because those distilling with potatoes stateside is extremely uncommon.
4. Strom: Out of Finland, this vodka is produced with the old-school European methods in mind. Using only potatoes, local spring water, and left after a single filtration, this vodka is definitely for those who are familiar with the depth of unique flavors a potato vodka can present.
5. Boyd and Blair: Like Grand Teton, this vodka is an upstart in the American craft spirits movement. Distilling in a repurposed former glass factory, this vodka is master distilled using locally-grown Pennsylvania potatoes and spring water.
6. Karlsson`s: Distilled in Sweden, this vodka is crafted using `virgin new potatoes`, which are the much smaller result of an early summer harvest. This means that this craft vodka starts off with less impurities than many other potato vodkas. Once filtered three times, the result is exceptionally smooth.
7. Silver Tree: Crafted just outside Denver, Colorado, this vodka is made using a combination of grain and potatoes to create a vodka that is more accessible flavor-wise than a straight potato distillation. Since the company only has a few hand-hammered copper stills producing, this particular brand can be hard to find, but well worth the search.
8. Strawski: This is an old-school as it gets. Crafted in small batches at a 200 year-old distillery in Poland, this vodka is a perfect representation of vodkas very origins. Smooth, clean, with a creamy mouthfeel, this is potato vodka at its best.
9. Blue Ice: Another American upstart, it should come as no surprise that Blue Ice too hails from Idaho, where the countries best potatoes come from. Distilled from Russet Burbank potatoes, this vodka is painstakingly filtered after distillation to create an ultra premium vodka that rivals the smoothness and purity of the best grain based vodkas.
10. Permafrost Alaska: Distilled in Russia using premium Alaskan glacier water, this vodka is probably the best thing to emerge from the thawing of the Cold War. Some of the purest water in the world combined with Russian vodka know-how makes for an amazingly smooth, unctuous drinking experience.