A ubiquitous beverage all over the world, vodka is a top choice both for sipping or use in cocktails, offering excellent versatility. Things get even more interesting when a top shelf vodka is paired with something like caviar. But not all vodkas are created equal, and finding the best of the best top shelf vodka is no easy task.
Brands always love to boast about their products, and vodka makes no exception. But some of them don’t even need to do that, since they’re renowned already and well known around the world. You’ll find them pretty much on every bar’s shelf, and despite the general perception, they don’t necessarily come costly.
Top shelf quality vodka isn’t always the higher priced one, as you’ll find out, but it goes down to the distillation process, ingredients, and flavors. Some premium vodka brands out there keep their vodkas reasonably affordable.
Interested? Here are out favorite top shelf vodkas:
- 20. Arbikie Haar Vodka
- 19. Spirytus Rektyfikowany Vodka
- 18. Haku Vodka
- 17. Pinnacle Vodka
- 16. Nikka Coffey Vodka
- 15. Skyy Vodka
- 14. Van Gogh Vodka
- 13. Svedka Vodka
- 12. Russian Standard Platinum Vodka
- 11. Crystal Head Vodka
- 10. Chopin Vodka
- 9. Ketel One Vodka
- 8. Beluga Vodka
- 7. Absolut Vodka
- 6. Stolichnaya Elit Vodka
- 5. Cîroc Vodka
- 4. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- 3. Grey Goose Vodka
- 2. Hangar 1 Vodka
- 1. Belvedere Vodka
20. Arbikie Haar Vodka
Coming from the Arbikie Highland Estate distillery on the East Coast of Scotland, the Arbikie Haar Vodka is made from a Zulu wheat.
Overall a soft and delicate drink, it’s creamy and complex, and comes with aromas of pine, thyme, black wet moss, and a little bit of vanilla. Serving options include caviar or smoked salmon, and it also makes for a great cocktail base, especially a Martini.
19. Spirytus Rektyfikowany Vodka
The Spirytus Rektyfikowany is known as the strongest vodka in the world, and the strongest alcohol available commercially, with a whooping 96% ABV.
Made from agricultural cereal and premium ethyl alcohol, it’s a vodka you won’t want to sip straight, and the reason is obvious. It’s instead used as a base for cocktails, or added in homemade fruit and herbal liquors or desserts.
It’s made by the Polish Distillery Spirytus, and its name literally means “alcohol”.
18. Haku Vodka
An interesting option is this Japanese vodka from rice, the Haku Vodka. It comes with a very distinctive flavor, and might be a good choice for those looking beyond the conventional.
The taste is sweet and floral, with fresh notes of rice and various floral aromas. It doesn’t get that bitterness found in lower quality grain based drinks, and the overall well rounded flavor is perfect both for sipping straight or on the rocks.
Though it might be interesting as a base for cocktails, its special flavor would probably be enjoyed better without throwing it into a mix.
17. Pinnacle Vodka
Fresh and crisp, the Pinnacle Vodka is made from French grain and water, and comes with superb hints of citrus, vanilla, and wheat, making it a good choice for serving chilled.
There are numerous cocktails that would benefit from this vodka’s smoothness and light notes, but the hint of ripe tomato makes it a wonderful choice for a Bloody Mary.
Pinnacle is distilled four times, and comes with a neutral aftertaste. It’s a little peppery, and besides the tomato aroma, there’s also honeydew rind. This vodka is versatile enough to be served in many ways, and the price of around $18 also makes it quite affordable.
16. Nikka Coffey Vodka
Another Japanese option, the Nikka Coffey Vodka is a very smooth drink made from a base of corn and barley malt, individually distilled and blended together afterwards.
The brand’s distillation process shares the same still as their award winning Japanese whiskies, which makes this vodka a special one. When drinking it, you’ll feel faint notes of mint and peaches, which make it even more cherished.
At $40, this is among the more expensive names, but it’s worth it for its uniqueness.
15. Skyy Vodka
Renowned as being the best vodka for a Martini, Skyy Vodka is made entirely from U.S. sourced grains and water and made through four column distillation. The result is a neutral taste, with almost no bitterness and a subtle combination of flavors and aromas.
It’s a smooth and very enjoyable vodka, accessible when it comes to price, and perfect for mixing into cocktails, especially, as we mentioned above, a Martini.
14. Van Gogh Vodka
With its clean, smooth, and refreshing taste, the Dutch made Van Gogh Vodka is distilled from a mix of Dutch, French and German wheat, and natural ingredients in a two stage infusion.
There’s plenty of flavors and tastes available, from citrus and vanilla to more exquisite flavors like pomegranate, mango, açai-blueberry, or peach. It also comes with chocolate, caramel, or espresso aromas, should you be interested.
The Citroen and Oranje flavors of Van Gogh are bottled 80, and the other flavors come in a t 70 proof.
13. Svedka Vodka
Accessible and easy to drink, the Svedka Vodka is a brand to always keep in your liquor cabinet. It’s a column distilled vodka made from Swedish winter wheat and distilled five times.
The taste is sweet initially and has a peppery bit afterwards. It can be served neat, but it makes for a wonderful cocktail base thanks to the neutral taste, both good reasons to please almost everybody.
12. Russian Standard Platinum Vodka
If you’re looking for that hardcore traditional Russian vodka, there’s nothing better than the Russian Standard. Their Platinum Vodka is smooth and unflavored, but has a distinctive fresh and grass-like aroma.
It’s got a light body, and comes with a warm and soothing finish. It’s not among those that will burn everything as it goes down your throat, so it makes for a wonderful sipping choice and a pleasant drinking experience.
Because it’s neutral in flavor, it makes for a great cocktail base as well, and since we mentioned tradition earlier, you could go for a Russian Mule.
11. Crystal Head Vodka
With a very artistic shaped bottle, Crystal Head Vodka will impress even before it’s poured into a glass. It’s an unflavored vodka with a little bit of sweetness to it, distilled from a “peaches and cream” corn variety, and then it goes through a filtration process which uses layers of quartz crystals, or Herkimer diamonds as they’re called.
This vodka comes from Canada, and it’s made with glacial water from Newfoundland. There are notes of lemon, peach, black pepper, and various other fruits. It’s smooth and almost creamy, and that subtle sweetness it comes with makes it a wonderful choice for a Cosmopolitan.
10. Chopin Vodka
Chopin Vodka is a remarkable Polish vodka, and it’s made from potatoes. It’s actually one of the few potato vodkas in the world. Named after the famous composer Frederic Chopin, this top shelf vodka is all about quality.
It’s a four time distilled drink, and is brilliant both straight and as an ingredient for cocktails as well. Chopin is a brand that produces unflavored vodkas, and besides the potato variety, they also produce it from wheat and rye.
It’s a good choice for those martinis with olives. For an even more premium experience, go for the Chopin Family Reserve, which is made from young potatoes and then aged for two years in Polish oak barrels.
9. Ketel One Vodka
One of the clearest tasting vodkas around, Ketel One Vodka is a Dutch vodka with a super smooth taste, which makes it a perfect choice for serving chilled. Simple cocktail recipes with this vodka are also recommended.
It’s made from European wheat in small batches at a 300 year old distillery owned by the Nolet family, which are well known for their gin. Their vodka comes in a limited number of varieties, two to be more precise, with Citroen (made from four lemon and two lime types), and Oranje (from two types of oranges).
Sometimes they release some special editions as well, but you’d have to be lucky to get your hands on those.
8. Beluga Vodka
Beluga Vodka is a premium vodka from western Siberia, Russia, and if id doesn’t crossed your mind, it’s named after the most expensive caviar in the world, which makes sense given the vodka’s quality.
Made from artesian water, with honey, milk thistle, and oat, the Beluga gets a very premium and authentic taste, with a pure and smooth taste and notes of sage, cream, vanilla, and white pepper.
The filtration process gets it through quartz sand and a silver filter, giving it a crisp and vanilla finish. It’s a premium vodka, great for sipping at important events.
7. Absolut Vodka
Widespread around the world, Absolut is a name that pops to everyone’s minds when thinking of vodka in general. The widely recognizable Absolut Vodka is a Swedish vodka made from winter wheat, bottled at 80 proof.
It’s got a clean taste, and comes with several taste profiles, with some batches having Citron and Vanilla, while others coming with pear, peach, and mango flavors.
It’s an overall quality vodka, reliable and accessible, and you’ll probably find it in most liquor stores and bars.
6. Stolichnaya Elit Vodka
Stolichnaya Elit Vodka is a very clean vodka with a spicy taste and a smoky finish, best served on the rocks, with lime.
The making process for this one is an interesting one. It starts with the grains from the black soil in the Tambov region in Russia. After distillation, the drink travels to Latvia to be blended with artesian well water. Filtration comes next, and it’s done through ultra fine quartz sand and Russian birch wood charcoal.
The final step before getting to the top shelves of bars around the world is the signature freeze filtration at -64 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Cîroc Vodka
Another fine top shelf option, the Cîroc Vodka is French in nature, five times distilled, and made from mauzac blanc and ugni blanc grapes. The fifth distillation process is made in a custom copper pot in the French countryside at Distillerie de Maison Villevert-Chevancaux.
It’s bottled 80 proof, and makes for a fantastic base for cocktails. Aromas include coconut, mango, apple, peach, red berries, pineapple, and French vanilla.
4. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
A top choice for drinking straight or mixing into any kind of cocktails, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a smooth, clean, and pure kind of vodka, and comes without any flavors.
It’s made from corn, in small batches only, bottled 80 proof, and gluten free. The handmade reference in the title reminds of the initial times, when the company was a one man show, Bert “Tito” Beveridge, who started everything back in 1997.
In a few years, the brand grew so much that it became a top seller.
3. Grey Goose Vodka
Grey Goose Vodka is renowned all over the world and a top choice of many drinkers. It’s widely available, and makes for one of the most mixable vodkas on the market right now, which is why it’s the go-to choice for many bars worldwide.
It’s French made through a five column distillation process, from only French wheat, and comes with a subtle sweet taste. When it comes to flavors, they offer quite a few, with their most impressive being La Poire, made from pear fruits.
They also offer Le Citron and L’Orange, which you’ll find in most bars, and other more special varieties, such as the Essences, which features botanical infusions of fruits and herbs.
2. Hangar 1 Vodka
A unique kind of spirit that breaks out from the mainstream, the Hangar 1 Vodka will impress anyone. Made in an abandoned Navy aircraft hangar in California, from Viognier grapes and Midwestern grains, it’s a special one.
It comes in several varieties, both straight and flavored, all bottled 80 proof. Their straight brings some nice floral and pear notes, and their flavored varieties are Buddha’s Hand Citron, made from ancient lemon, Makrut Lime, and Mandarin Blossom.
They also have some special kinds on offer, among which a blend of vodka and rose wine, and another honeycomb infusion. The brand experiments a lot with all kinds of interesting flavors.
1. Belvedere Vodka
The Polish made Belvedere Vodka is an excellent spirit made from rye, ideal for some of the most exquisite cocktails, offering a unique taste and flavor in the brand’s flagship variety, the “Pure”.
Recently, the brand replaced their classic flavors with more unique varieties, with Organic Infusions like Lemon & Basil, Blackberry & Lemongrass, or Pear & Ginger.They all come 80 proof.
For those not in the know, vodka is just vodka. But if you dive deeper into this world, you’ll undoubtedly find a very interesting world of impressive flavors, unique aromas, and surprising subtleties.