Vodka connoisseurs have surely tried many different types of vodkas from all around the world. And everyone probably thinks Russian vodka is amongst the best. They’ve perfected their way of making vodka since it’s been a major part of their culture since 1386.
In Russian, vodka, or Voda, is just another version of the word Water. So that pretty much says it all. If you read our previous articles, we explained how vodka is made. For the rest of you, here’s a quick recap:
How is Vodka made?
This high proof alcohol is crafted using certain grains and purified water. There are many vodka varieties, depending on the region and the types of grains used. But they basically all follow the same method, with small variations.
The liquid that comes from fermented cereal grains is distilled. Throughout history, if crops were low, potatoes became a substitute for crafting vodka.
The cereal or grain is heated, which forms a mash. That mash in turn is mixed with yeast, which produces ethanol, or the alcohol that is a amjor part of the spirirt. The process can vary from brand to brand, anywhere from one day to a couple of weeks. Then the resulting liquid is purified to remove the smells that may be present.
In order to acquire its desired purity, the liquid is distilled in pot or column stills. This is the purest form of alcohol with a concentration of about 95%, which then has to be diluted with spring water. It is then distilled again, in order to bring the alcohol content to about 50%. Then the infusions are added, to give it its final taste.
These steps are followed by most vodka brands, but the final result depends greatly on the type of cereals, grains, or potatoes used, as well as the purity of the filtered water.
What is so special about Russian vodka, you might wonder?
Surely the fact that they’ve been one of the first countries in the world to produce it makes a difference.
But there is also the quality of ingredients that is unique to their region, especially the Northern part of the country. That is something that cannot be replicated anywhere else, and it does impact the final product.
Now that you have a basic understanding on how vodka is produced, let’s see which are the 15 best Russian vodka brands you should familiarize yourself with.
One of the newest vodkas on this list, they were founded only in 2013. This completely organic brand uses ingredients that are grown on, you guessed it, organic farms.
While most brands let their spirit sit for only a couple of days before bottling, Drova lets their vodka rest for a whole month before being bottled. It does impact on the taste slightly, adding a natural sweetness to it overall flavor profile.
Founded back in 1872, Nemiroff has over a century of experience in the vodka making business. Reasonably priced, this vodka brand is pretty accessible all over the globe. Among its notable flavors you can taste grassy notes on the front, with hints of a peppery aftertaste.
Many like to use it in Bloody Marys or Vodka Tonics, but it can go down smoothly straight up as well. If you can get your hands on a bottle, depending where you are, you will surely enjoy it.
Baikal vodka takes its name after the massive Lake Baikal, where the brand draws the water they use for the filtration process. With a smooth and clean flavor profile, the vodka goes down easily, and without much of an aftertaste.
The first organic vodka brand to originate from Russia, Baikal uses a few flavoring agents in order to give it its great taste. Their classic vodka includes linden honey, pine nuts,a s well as pine nut fragrance for a unique profile.
They also have a few other flavored varieties, such as the cranberry or peppery honey vodkas.
This traditional company distills their spirit three times before the final step. Using authentic methods of production, Moskovskaya isn’t as well known throughout the world as other brands on this list.
Founded in 1894, they saturated iff with only Moskovskaya. It was during the early 1900s Osobaya was added to theri name, in order to showcase its special quality. If the Emperor at the time thought so, it must be deserving of its name.
It has an overall classic taste that has a little bite. Hints of black pepper can be noticed as well, and a clean mouthfeel overall.
From the frozen climate of Siberia comes Husky vodka, a spirit that thrives in the harshest temperatures. Just like the dog breed by the same name, the vodka brand shares the same traits that are defined by the coldest environments.
Using the region’s hearty ingredients and pure waters that use cold filtration technologies, the brand crafts one of the cleanest, most delicious and unique vodkas to come out of Russia. For every single bottle produced, the company distills it five times.
That way, they get rid of any impurity that might otherwise survive. A great alternative to your usual brand to get acquainted with, Husky vodka is available in more than 50 countries globally.
This brand can be considered the rebel of the pack, because it honors the original distilling methods the 1985 reigning Czar Alexander lll outlawed. During his reign, he decreed all pot stills in Russia, which enticed Boris Rodionov to move the entire operation to Poland.
Today, the brand uses the original 1745 vodka recipe that is held in the Russian National Museum. Because of its smell and taste which is reminiscent of rye bread, Russians call Polugar vodka “bread wine”. You must try it if you get a chance.
Another spirit that comes form the Siberain region, this vodka is easily recognizable by its unusual bottle design. The tusk-shaped vessel conjures a sense of exploration and brings out your adventurous spirit.
In order to create the clean, smooth sip you can expect, the brand uses Siberia’s finest ingredients available. It is such a great liquor that its recipe garnered much critical acclaim, winning six gold medals in its category.
It is crafted at one of the oldest distilleries to come form the country. Its bold, crisp, and smooth flavor profile makes it a favorite with the locals.
8. Green Mark
Earning the Russian government’s official seal of approval, Green Mark wears its quality proudly. Produced to the highest standards, Green Mark is one of the few vodka brands that received the honor. It uses the purest well water available, as well as the best Russian wheat.
Their distillation methods are traditional, which give their end product a clean finish every single time. The spirit drinks smoothly and it tastes slightly of pepper and bread. Offering great value for the money, the vodka has hints of star anise and fennel leaves, with a malty overall flavor.
7. Hammer & Sickle
Formed during the Russian revolution, Hammer & Sickle symbolizes the industrial workforce while paying homage to its peasant farmers. It is made from winter wheat that is grown in the Southern region of Russia where black earth and pure waters are plentiful.
The liquid is distilled and filtered at least six times, which results in a delighful aroma. With sweet notes of vanilla and wheat, grape and spice hints are noticeable. The finish is toasty on your palate, making it among one of the best tasting vodkas you can find.
Originally from Russia, Stolichnaya moved its operations to Latvia and recently changed its named to Stoli. It did so without abandoning its commitment to excellence nor its roots. Although filled with international debate and litigation, the brand’s recipe remains simple and pure.
Using only high-quality, clean ingredients the company, which is now simply Stoli, produces fourteen varieties of vodka. There are a few flavored options in their repertoire, and the pure vodkas are all excellent options.
Whether you prefer to sip it as is or use it as a base in a cocktail, their spirits are a great option. They even cater to those who have a gluten intolerance by using buckwheat and corn during the distillation process.
Smirnoff is one of those vodka brands that is very recognizable worldwide. No matter where you’re from, chance are you are acquainted with this globe-trotting company. It was founded by Pyotr Arsenyevitch Smirnov in 1864, in Moscow.
But it moved home base quite a few times since the Russian revolution. Ranging from classic vodka to flavored vodka, the company has experimented with different flavors throughout the years.
They even ventured out to produce malt beverages, but their vodka is their best selling product throughout the world.
This award-winning vodka uses the finest ingredients for its production. In order to achieve perfection in every single bottle, the brand has been using the 9-5-3 distillation process. That entails filtering water that comes from the Northern region of the country nine times.
The next step is to distill a blend of rye and wheat five times, then the company proceeds to three tastings before the final product ends on the shelves.
With an end result that is always creamy and mild and with a hint of sweetness thanks to the winter wheat, the vodka goes down nicely. The smooth finish has a pure and bright texture, and it is great chilled or room temperature as well.
3. The Jewel of Russia
In order to create a vodka that can be considered the country’s jewel spirit, this brand honors the local traditions with its delicious and smooth flavor. The Jewel of Russia vodka is a spirit that is crafted meticulously from the finest ingredients available.
Purified five times then filtered another five, the company uses sand methods and traditional Russian paper. For the final step, the process involves a modified charcoal that is produced from apricot and peach stones. If you like to mix your vodka in cocktails, its mild flavor is perfect for that. But it can also be sipped straight, or over ice.
Winning multiple awards, the brand produces these four vodkas: The Classic, Berry Infusion, Ultra, and Wild Bilberry Infusion.
2. Russian Standard
Based in St. Petersburg, Russian Standard uses solely Russian ingredients for the production of their exquisite vodka. The founder of Russian Standard is Roustam Tariko, and his company exports to more than 80 countries worldwide.
In order to ensure they offer customers the best product possible, the brand employs real chemists for the blending of their ingredients. They follow a strict three step rule every single time.
The distillation, filtration, then the relaxation processes are never rushed, which always creates a clean, smooth taste.The brand makes these four types of vodkas: Classic, Gold, Imperia, and Platinum.
Imperia can be considered a brand in its own right, with its pure spirit that is crafted from the soft Northern waters of Russia. The brand distills its spirit eight times, which has an impressive end product. The result is a sublime vodka that is crisp, pure, and great to sip on the rocks.
By crafting a few meticulous spirits, this prestigious vodka brand has gained worldwide domination. Part of the Russian alcohol conglomerate Beluga Group, Beluga actually makes eight popular varieties of vodka, all different form one another.
If you see any of the following you’ll know they are made by Beluga: Allure, Celebration, Epicure, Gold Line, Noble, Noble Night, Transatlantic Racing, and Transatlantic Racing Navy Blue.
By distilling their vodkas with precision, they are popular in more than 100 countries, with more than 250 airports worldwide selling their products. It originates from an environmentally friendly region in the midst of Siberia.
Founded in 1900, it has a distcinctive processing method. Blending ancient culture and modern inventions, the vodka uses filtered and purified ingredients that result in an excellent product.
This sums up the list of the best 15 Russian vodkas you should know. For a country who’s main spirit is vodka, you can rest assured you get some of the best quality on the market.
Which ones of these are you familiar with? Or did we introduced you to some new to you brands? Let us know in the comments below if there are other notable brands we might have missed.