The Best Vodkas For Big-Spenders
Aug 06, 2018
After its 80s heyday as drink of choice for film stars and celebrites, vodka took a fall from grace. Dismissed as bland and boring, even the U.S. Government’s legal definition of vodka is “without distinctive character.”
But this long-suffering spirit is making a comeback. The market has witnessed a revival of premium vodkas, often selling for eyebrow-raising prices: Russo-Baltique has made headlines at $1.3 million a piece.
Indeed, these top-shelf vodkas are more like luxury items: crystal bottles, gold caps, bullet-proof glass and the backing of the likes of P. Diddy, promotional partner for Cîroc.
So what vodkas are on offer if you want to indulge like real big-spender?
Absolut Elyx – $39
Setting the bar high in the luxury vodka world is Absolut Elyx. Hailing from southern Sweden and distilled from winter wheat, this is a rich and smooth creation with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. The team behind the vodka takes pride in the fact that the journey of every batch of Elyx can be traced from seed to bottle – this is a brand that puts integrity and authenticity first. While the vodka is distinguished by its notes of fresh bread, white chocolate and mellow spice, it is the distilling process that truly sets it apart. Absolut Elyx is distilled in a hand-operated vintage copper still – and it is this copper surface that gives it that exceptionally smooth mouthfeel. Its creators have described it as liquid-silk – and we’re not going to contradict them.
Crystal Head Aurora – $65
Crystal Head Vodka was the brain-child of actor Dan Aykroyd of Ghostbusters fame, and artist John Alexander. You may recognise it thanks to its enigmatic and eye-catching crystal skull bottle, inspired by the legend of the 13 crystal skulls, ancient skulls carved from solid quartz whose origins and purpose continues to baffle experts.
Indeed, the process of making Crystal Head Aurora vodka, although less of a puzzle, remains just as fascinating. Made from English wheat from North Yorkshire, it is distilled five times, reduced using glacial aquifer water from Newfoundland, before being filtered through Herkimer diamond crystals.
But most intriguingly, the bottle is electrically charged before being baked at high temperature, creating an iridescent metalized finish, inspired by the Northern Lights. This unique process also means no two Aurora bottles are alike.
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Woody Creek Reserve – $90
Located just outside Aspen, Colarado, Woody Creek vodka takes the humble potato to a whole new level.
These potatoes, grown from seeds imported from Poland, are harvested from the distillery’s own farm a couple of miles away, and mashed on the same day they come out of the ground.
The Woody Creek’s flagship product has already won double gold, but with its Reserve vodka, Woody Creek distillery has gone one step further. Using the Polish Stowbrowa potato, celebrated for its high starch content, and complex flavour, it has created a vodka that head distiller David Matthews describes as a “martini in a glass” – it can be enjoyed neat, nothing else required.
Carbonadi – $90
Carbonadi vodka hails from the Piemonte region of Northern Italy. With half a century of experience behind it, this family-owned distillery has created a vodka inspired by the luxurious world of fine wines – evident in the elegant, heavy bottle and white and gold trim.
Made from the pristine water and organic wheat from the surrounding Italian Alps, the vodka is distilled five times through active charcoal, before being re-filtered through microporous black diamonds known as carbonados.
With its clean silky taste, unique creation process, and luxurious design, this is a vodka that certainly deserves its self-appointed title: “ultra premium.”
Grey Goose Interpreted by Ducasse – $100
This new expression of the super-premium vodka was born from a collaboration between Grey Goose cellar master, François Thibault and legendary French chef Alain Ducasse.
An upgrade on the Grey Goose classic, this ‘vodka gastranomique’ is distilled from toasted French wheat, and has notes of both brioche and fresh bread, along with more intense hints of roasted almonds, coffee and chocolate.
With this rich and complex flavour, it can be served neat in place of post-dinner coffee, or even with the coffee itself: a Grey Goose Dans Le Noir cocktail combines the vodka with cold brew artisanal coffee poured over ice.
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Chopin Single Young Potato – $100
Chopin single ingredient vodkas are created at the family owned and operated distillery in Poland, using a method passed down through generations.
Especially noteworthy is the distillery’s Single Young Potato vodka, made from low starch Denar potatoes, scrupulously selected for taste and texture. Unlike most vodkas, it is distilled just once in order to preserve its delicate and distinct flavour.
A far cry from the heavily processed, tasteless vodkas that gave the spirit such bad name, Chopin is redefining the top-shelf spirit game for everyone.
Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series – $3,000
This limited edition series is made from specially sourced water from remote locations around the world. The Himalayan edition was created from Langtan National park waters and the New Zealand edition from New Zealand’s blue Spring. The third and final vodka comes from a natural spring at the foot of the Andes mountains, first discovered by the indigenous Mapuche people.
The bottle itself is hand-cut crystal with a gold cap, a silver collar, crowned by a ruby, and nestled in a box of Chilean Black Cherry wood. This might sound absurdly extravagant – until you realise the Himalayan edition came with a gold-plated decorative ice-pick.
Not always made simply to woo celebrity royalty and billionaire tycoons – or at least not entirely – these are vodkas created with flavour forefront in their makers’ mind. But do they deserve their bank-breaking price tags? You’ll have to try them to decide.