The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 118 of 140

CATEGORY REPORT Ingredients TODAY'S VODKAS SHOWCASE A WIDE RANGE OF FLAVORS, TEXTURES AND FINISHES—AND IT'S ALL ABOUT THE RAW MATERIALS by Monique Farah E arthy, spicy, creamy, grainy, sweet— these are some of the fl avor profi les that top palates are now using to describe today's high-end vodka. In fact, the category has skyrocketed to become one of the most consumed spirits in America. Much to the purist's dismay, super-premium and luxury vodkas are still most commonly used for mixed drinks. That's not necessarily a bad thing—cocktails have never been better, after all. But to appreciate the distinct fl avors of these spirits to their fullest, they should be tried straight up at least once. After leading hundreds of vodka tastings over the years for both master distillers and consumers alike, I have found a plethora of rich fl avor notes and complex fi nishes that make each vodka unique and can be measured in character, bite and fl avor. What's striking in each instance is how much the vodka's raw materials—whether wheat, rye, potatoes or some other base—come through on the palate. Let's examine a few of today's hottest brands to fi nd out why ingredients, and their sources, really do matter. Matter 118 / the tasting panel / november 2012

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