Tadeusz Wejkszo | Dreamstime

If Your Favorite Vodka Tastes Better Than Another One, It's Breaking the Law

Brand X may brag about its flavor, but the government says it shouldn't have any
Tadeusz Wejkszo | Dreamstime

Do you prefer Grey Goose because you find that it has a pleasant citrusy flavor?Can you detect a hint of spice in Ketel One? Does the aftertaste of Tito's suggest mushrooms just a little — or maybe the corn from which it is distilled?

Why do people choose one vodka over another?

Snob appeal? Have your Smirnoff, if that's all you can afford; I'm plunking down $3,000 for a bottle of Stoli Elit Himalayan Edition.

Advertising? That Svedka cyborg is so sexy. If James Bond drinks Belvedere, it's good enough for me. That Absolut wherever campaign is just so damn clever.

Marketing gimmicks? Your vodka is only filtered with charcoal; mine seeps through three layers of crushed diamonds.

Maybe, but who's going to admit that they're swayed by any of those factors? No, people will tell you they like this brand or that because they like the way it tastes.

There's only one problem. Unless it's flavored vodka (Absolut Peppar, Burnett's Maple Syrup Vodka), vodka isn't supposed to taste like anything at all. The U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau defines vodka as "neutral spirits distilled or treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color."


In other words, you shouldn't be able to tell one vodka from another by any means other than its packaging or the messages with which it's sold. If you can, call the government! They're there to help.