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We Blind Taste Tested Top-Shelf Vodkas. Here Are the Results.

A craft cocktail bartender helped us find out which brand you should buy.


Jason O’Bryan, Robb Report‘s cocktail correspondent, has been bartending for more than a decade, tasting myriad spirits as he hones classic cocktails and invents his own drinks. That’s given him a deep knowledge of everything from amaro to zivania, so we deployed his palate to find out what bottle of vodka you should reach for the next time you’re at the liquor store.

As O’Bryan says in the video, vodka “is designed by very talented people with very expensive machines to taste as much like nothing as possible.” And it’s generally not a spirit that’s loved by craft cocktail bartenders because of its neutrality with some dismissing vodka as “all tasting the same.” However, there are plenty of differences between brands and those nuances are readily apparent when tasted side by side. So without any knowledge of what he’d be trying and what order in which he’d be trying it, O’Bryan tasted bottles from the popular premium vodka brands Belvedere, Grey Goose, Chopin, Ketel One, and St. George. Here are his results, from least favorite to his winner.


“I’m going to use a technical term here: not awesome,” O’Bryan mused about this 25th anniversary special edition from Chopin. On the nose it felt musty; on the palette he detected notes of nail polish remover on the finish. At the reveal he was surprised, as the last blind taste he did with Chopin he responded more favorably—albeit using a different version. “Chopin, I expected so much more from you,” he said.

Grade: C-

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Ketel One

He didn’t get a ton on the nose or on the palate this one, with a vodka that stayed pretty neutral. O’Bryan noticed that instead of any fruit or citrus notes, Ketel One’s flavor profile leaned more towards a biscuit and made him think it would be well suited for coffee drinks like a White Russian. However, the alcohol heat lingered a bit too much for his tastes which kept the grade down.

Grade: B

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Grey Goose

O’Bryan was impressed by the neutral aromas and detected a subtle sweetness and faint hint of vanilla. The heat wasn’t too intense, which made for a more pleasant sipping experience. If he’s mixing with this, he’d lean into the vanilla and sweetness and make a fruit-forward cocktail like a Raspberry Lemon Drop.

Grade: B+

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“Is there a wet newspaper thing?” was O’Bryan’s first impression upon smelling this vodka, but when he tasted it, he got pleasant citrus flavors and a mild burn. It made him want a Vodka Paloma with Belvedere. For him, this was the biggest reveal of the day; previously not a fan of the brand based on past experiences, his opinion changed as a result of this blind tasting—which is, of course, why you do blind tastings.

Grade: A-

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Winner: St. George All Purpose Vodka

When he first nosed this vodka, he found it to be both comforting and slightly unpleasant. Upon tasting it, however, he loved it. It’s smooth when you first sip and then the midpalate explodes with flavors of grapes, green apple and pear. And it’s not just the flavor, there’s a great texture to the vodka that keeps it interesting and complex. He’d make a Vodka Martini with this one.

Grade: A

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