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  1. Martell VS Cognac

    Cognac — Cognac, France

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    I have a huge backlog of tastes that I try to trickle in occasionally. This one simply completes the VS/VSOP versions of what I call the "Big Four" Cognacs: Hennessy, Remy Martin, Courvoisier, and Martell. Each one has its own distinct character. Martell VS has a hot nose with sweet grape and raspberry jam, very similar to Hine actually, but less dry. There isn't much to say about the taste, except that it follows the nose, and does not have that slight lime note that crept into the VSOP (I should resample it at some point). In fact, this might actually be the sweetest of the "Big Four" Cognacs. If Courvoisier has an orange and rose character, then Martell is defined by sweet red fruits, whereas Remy is spiced apple, and Hennessy is stewed prunes (Hennessy Black is honey blossom). Each one is best suited for whichever mixed drink or sipping mood is compatible with those flavors, but all of them are likely much too overpriced to use for mixing. Martell VS is the cheapest of these, but for goodness' sake, just buy Eagle Rare for the same price...
    35.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Auchentoshan American Oak

    Single Malt — Lowlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.25
    3.25 out of 5 stars
    My first lowland! Since it was basically between this and Glenkinchie, where the difference is like $50... The nose on this is unlike anything I've smelled in a scotch whisky; fruity yet floral, with lychee and heavily perfumed rose petals. There is a distinct whiff of banana pudding that somehow blends naturally into the rest. This just may be the prettiest smelling whisky ever. It has the gentlest entry, like a breeze, very sweet, with coconut and vanilla cream, bananas foster topped with cinnamon, stopping just short of rum-like. It finishes with just the vaguest suggestion of grassy hay and lemony tea leaves. The novelty wears off after a while though (probably the unusual coconut note), and I ended up using the last part of the bottle to make a few "Bobby Burns" a.k.a. the "Scottish Manhattan". I can't wait to try other lowlands though, particularly Ailsa Bay, if it ever decides to release a dedicated single malt stateside - or maybe just the Three Wood of this because the pickin's are quite slim.
    35.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Absolut Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Sweden

    Tasted
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    #1 in the vodka lineup. Practically no nose, neither flavor nor alcohol. I can almost fully inhale deep in the glass with no effect. This makes the flavor nothing short of a magic trick: sweet vanilla custard, almost ice cream hits you immediately. Even a creamy vapor is present in the mouth as you taste it, but then disappears without leaving a trace of hardly anything. Complete stillness throughout. Quite remarkable the way so much flavor is delivered so stealthily. Conclusion: All vodka is fine for whatever purpose; just find a cheap one that doesn't smell like gasoline. This one happens to provide an actual good drinking experience neat though. It is also smooth enough to drink like water, can still mix with anything, and ~$5 cheaper than Jack Daniel's (just think about that for a second). As an added bonus, the distillery is also one the most eco-friendly. This is the only vodka I will ever need (perfect for White Russians!), and certainly the last one I care to go out of my way to try. Character: Vanilla custard and the stillest waters of Shangri-la Smoothness: 5, Overall: 4.25
    20.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Russian Standard Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Russia

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    #2 in the vodka lineup. The nose is both peppery and a little sweet, a little more "brooding" than a typical vodka, if that makes sense. The palate is surprisingly full, with a pleasantly oily mouthfeel, punctuated with vanilla and wheat flavors. After a moment, the initial flavor subsides and becomes more neutral. A creaminess comes through at the end with a sharp note (probably wheat related), and a little dryness and heat. This placed #2 on my list because it really is the "standard" of vodka: neutral enough to pair with anything, and interesting enough to taste, yet not eccentric. It is also under $20, and doesn't pretend to be something that only nobles should drink. You can clean a flask with this stuff without feeling guilty. Have I ever used it to sterilize a wound? Of course I have. Who hasn't? It is highly-distilled "nothing" juice, further matured in absolutely nothing. But it does its job well WHILE exemplifying what typical notes found in vodka should be, and that makes it a successful vodka in my opinion. It does help propagate that annoying (and completely false) anecdote about Dmitri Mendeleev "inventing" 80 proof liquor, but I'll let that one slide if it means that more vodka drinkers will Google "Dmitri Mendeleev". Character: Vanilla and pepper Smoothness: 2, Overall: 3.5
    19.0 USD per Bottle
  5. Stolichnaya Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Latvia

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    #3 in the vodka lineup. More alcohol on the nose than the last few, with some notes of grain. The flavor is quite different though, and surprisingly eccentric for such a classic vodka. Alongside the typical vanilla cream is banana pudding and a grassy note, almost tropical in nature. Average smoothness throughout, right up until the end where some burn contributes to the finish. This is a good fruit-leaning neutral vodka, which would be at home anywhere there is rum and/or pineapple. Character: Grassy banana pudding Smoothness: 3, Overall: 3.5
    18.0 USD per Bottle
  6. Cîroc Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — France

    Tasted
    3.25
    3.25 out of 5 stars
    #4 in the vodka lineup. Not much nose, but you can definitely tell this came from grapes. The unusual aroma is almost gin-like, with a peppery juniper nature. One sip confirms it: this vodka tastes like gin. Sweet, lemon-lime, practically a citrus soda, with some sweet herbal botanicals and ever-so-slight licorice. This is definitely a high-end martini vodka. However, the unique fruity character sacrifices a lot of its potential versatility, which is an unfortunate thing for what should be a primarily neutral spirit. It is also $30, a ridiculous price for any vodka to have. Character: Gin Smoothness: 3.25, Overall: 3.25
    30.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Ketel One Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Netherlands

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    #5 in the vodka lineup. A very simple and muted nose, just a hint of vanilla. Flat, grainy palate, the vanilla is there, but more savory. This is not a sweet vodka, if you're into that sort of thing. The wheat component is still there as well, but becomes what I would call "wheat thins" more than anything else. Good for when you want vodka that is a little flavorful, but not sweet. Dry martini? Character: Wheat thins Smoothness: 3, Overall: 3
    27.0 USD per Bottle
  8. Tito's Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Texas, USA

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    #6 vodka in the 7 or so that I compared. Very neutral nose. You have to dig deep to get some dusty grain. Still waters part to reveal a slightly sweet, mostly savory cream. Think vanilla yogurt. The slight salinity picks up a little at the end, but is well-integrated into the underlying neutrality. This vodka is over-hyped in my opinion, and there are much better for a few dollars less. It works in any place you would need a neutral spirit, and want people to think that you have good taste in vodka or something. It's not quite the "Patron" of vodka, but it's getting there (not a compliment). Character: Vanilla Greek yogurt Smoothness: 4.5, Overall: 3.0
    22.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — USA

    Tasted
    2.5
    2.5 out of 5 stars
    Some time late last year (Happy New Year, everyone!), between drinking other things, I decided to compare some popular vodkas to see which one I preferred to keep around, and if they were even distinct enough to bother caring about. I noted the overall character (which turns out to have a surprising variety among vodkas), and a separate "smoothness" (because this the only type of drink where you should probably care about that). Let's start with the least interesting vodka, the staple at every party that has ever existed: Smirnoff No. "those who drink this are typically not quite" 21. Cheap grain and vanilla, some alcohol, but not oppressive. Sweeter than I remember, not a lot of flavor. A strange muted taste sensation almost like your nose is being held, but the vanilla is still there. Just a tinge of salt at the end. There is nothing special here. This is vodka. Mix it with whatever, and drink it to get inebriated. This is meant to be a starting point to compare with what I found to be much more interesting ones. Character: salty vanilla Smoothness: 3.25, Overall: 2.5
    15.0 USD per Bottle
  10. Talisker 10 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    The nose is perfectly balanced between a modest but respectable peat level, and honey-drizzled Summer fruits, mainly citrus. The nose is like what would happen if more peat was added to Glenmorangie. I don't normally notice mouthfeel, but Talisker has a great one, gentle but full, delivering an impressive amount of flavor. The ABV is picture-perfect for what it manages to do. The base is golden malt cereal with just a drop of orange juice, and this combination is somehow flavorful enough to make you forget about the enormous cloud of smoke that has been developing around it from the start. By the time you notice, it has already overtaken your taste buds, but very gently so. This is like a carefully-prepared gourmet seaside dinner, smoked and heavily-peppered, honey-glazed and with absolute perfect char...except that the protein has been replaced with a nectarine. If Old Pulteney and Glenmorangie ever had a wedding in the Iron Islands (thus uniting Pyke with Highgarden), during a siege poetically set in slow motion in the distance with "Wish I had an Angel" by Nightwish playing in the background, then Talisker might have been what you just drank.
    60.0 USD per Bottle
Results 1-10 of 84 Tastes