A password will be e-mailed to you.

Photos By Nicholas Karlin, Words By Brandon Wetherbee

Our new national spirit will be vodka. It’s time to familiarize yourself with the ethanol and potato based drink.

We had 6 patriotic individuals taste test vodka. They sampled 14 different vodkas, all readily available for purchase in and around the Shaw neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The following is their age, preferred cocktail and preferred beer. They all regularly drink vodka.

Elizabeth Norman: 23, Moscow Mule, Flying Dog SnakeDog IPA
Kaylee Dugan: 24, Gin and tonic, Atlas Rowdy Rye
Kelly Rodgers: 22, Margarita, sours and ciders
Kevin Tit: 27, Long Island Iced Tea, IPAs with strong and high ABV
Linsay Deming: 30, Makers on the rocks, hates beer
Norm Quarrinton: 29, Moscow Mule, Blue Moon

We asked all of the subjects to write their thoughts and feelings and musings and assign a ranking out of 5, 1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest. In addition to providing vodka, we served the most Russian food we could find at the local Giant: sardines, pate and Saltines. We also provided chips, salsa and mixers.

Our overall findings are at the end of this post. Поехали!

Vodka Blind Taste Test-19

A. Absolute

Linsay: Tastes like rubbing alcohol. Time to clean the windows. Gross.

Kaylee: Doesn’t smell too bad but there is a touch of gasoline. Not crazy harsh. Has a little vanilla at the end, which feels perverted, like vodka for 6-year-olds.

Norm: It was definitely vodka.

Kelly: That was uh, pungent. It tastes super cheap but I feel like vodka tastes similar from one to the next? Which might not be great for this test…

Elizabeth: Relatively smooth, I could probably do about 4 shots of this before my body started physically rejecting it, which is how I judge vodka.

Kevin: Reminded me of the college I didn’t go to.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-5

B. SKYY Honeycrisp Apple

Linsay: What is that flavor? Melon? I could drink it straight on ice but probably get a hangover. Better than the last but not the best because it tastes like Bath & Body Works.

Kelly: OK, not all vodka is created equal. This vodka proves it. Much smoother and pretty sweet, tangy even. I did reach for my cranberry juice right away, which is a good sign.

Elizabeth: Very sugary fruit scent, with an indiscernible tropical fruit taste followed quickly by a children’s liquid medicine flavor and not in a fun way.

Kevin: Citrus and delicious.

Norm: A pungent, fruity smell. Tastes like Skittles.

Kaylee: This smells fruity as shit. Gotta be flavored. Can’t tell if this is pineapple or mango or something else. I’d drink this in something frozen and blended. It would probably give me a headache.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-6

C. Ciroc Mango

Linsay: Is that juice? Definitely pineapple. It’s a mixed drink, but palatable alone.

Elizabeth: Definitely a flavored vodka, very sweet, not as bad as the last one, it could be fruit but it could also be something like marshmallow, would definitely be deadly in a punch.

Norm: Very mango-ey. Probably too mango-ey.

Kaylee: This is pineapple as FUCK. Perfect in a piña colada if you can’t get rum.

Kevin: Pretty good compared to A (ed. note: Absolut).

Kelly: Pretty good! I only got a little, I guess we’re rationing, morale is declining. Fairly easy going down. Maybe some kind of berry? I’m a fan.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-22

D. Smirnoff

Kaylee: I spilled something on my dress. Tastes a little more like rubbing alcohol. My lips are numb.

Norm: Easily my favourite so far. Still gross though.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-3

Kelly: Oh no, no, no, Not a fan. Not a fan at all. Strong and straight forward. This is fucking vodka. And it’s fairly gross.

Elizabeth: Also smelled sugary, went down alright but wasn’t fantastic, I didn’t shiver as much as I usually do but still…

Kevin: Great for straight vodka.

Linsay: Smoother. Wouldn’t drink straight because it’s vodka but not horrible. I’d mix it with something.

E. Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Kaylee: Smells good but not too fruity. Less burn. Very drinkable. Again I get the vanilla. It’s fine.

Linsay: Ditto previous comments but slightly worse.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-2

Norm: Kinda spicy. Like a taco, but not nice.

Kevin: Even better for a straight vodka.

Kelly: Half strong, half not, this one falls right in the middle. Doesn’t make me want to die but isn’t great either.

Elizabeth: Maybe the sugary smell is just the cup? I don’t even know for sure. This was good, went down really easy. I’ve stopped trying to finish each drink, which is definitely for the best.

F. Taaka

Kevin: Great for wounds. Decent for the mouth.

Norm: This was the most vodka-ass vodka so far. Great stuff!

Vodka Blind Taste Test-8

Kelly: By far the worst. If there’s a vodka that would make you vomit when you’re already a few shots deep, it’s this.

Kaylee: MORE VANILLA?! Are all vodkas made by the Hershey Company? Why does everyone want their vodka to taste like shitty baked goods?

Linsay: I can’t tell anymore. Same as D (ed. note: Smirnoff). What?

Elizabeth: A little more paint thinner but I didn’t gag so it could’ve been worse. Whooo buddy.

G. Grey Goose

Kaylee: It’s not terrible! I could drink this in a martini if I was dumb enough to like martinis. My lips are still numb.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-15

Elizabeth: I never finished reading the Bell Jar but at the beginning the main character goes to a bar with a glamorous rommmate and doesn’t know any cocktails, so she orders a glass of vodka and, “drinks it like it was water” and I have always feld that was BULLSHIT. This was one was like, fine? I did gag but it wasn’t crazy burny. Also at this point I have forgotten the alphabet apparently so…

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I saw all of this vodka. JEEZ. Very self indulgent. Sorry. Like WOW I started the Bell Jar, holy shit. Ugh.

Kevin: Evidently, I prefer citrus flavored vodka.

Norm: Slightly fruity. Tastes like something a frat bro would drink.

Kelly: Not great. Strong but absolutely not the worst. If mixed I’m sure it’d be fine but not my first choice.

Linsay: I ate pate from a can.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-1


Linsay: Oh, no. This is disgusting. If it’s Tito’s I’ll die.

Kaylee: Smells like death. Tastes like not death. This is not the worst. I’m not upset.

Kevin: Smoother than the criminal MJ sang about.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-21

Elizabeth: This is fine? Is it like water that doesn’t smell like water?

Norm: A delicate, metallic aftertaste. 10/10. Would buy.

Kelly: A lot of this vodka is starting to taste the same. Maybe I have low standards for vodka?

I. Stoli

Kevin: I’d hack an email or right an election on this.

Elizabeth: Captain’s Log: Yikes. I’m DUNKED. This vodka was good, I thing, but I don’t remember drinking it. Who’s to know?

Kaylee: FRRRRRRRRUIT. Is this the mango? I bet this is the mango. Ciroc again? Is it Diddy? That feels right.

Norm: That’s one crunchy plate! (ed. note: Norm might be referring to the liver pate. And he may have been too intoxicated to use the correct words.)

Vodka Blind Taste Test-14

Kelly: Also right in the middle.

Linsay: Not too shabby. But not the worst.

J. Stoli Salted Karamel

Elizabeth: Captain’s Log: Damn did gag but I liked the taste? I feel like the only way I would give a vodka a 5/5 would be if it was actually water. Was it caramel taste? Burnt sugar bruh.

Linsay: Why do I like these sweet ones? Marshmallowy popcorn. I’d eat it. Would I ever order it? Fuck no. But straight is more palatable than the unflavored.

Kaylee: This has to be that salty caramel. It doesn’t taste terrible tho.

Kelly: Soooooo sweet. What would you drink this casually with, besides maybe in a milkshake? That’s not very casual though. Regardless, not awful.

Norm: Very caramel-y. Reminds me of sticky toffee pudding and childhood in England.

Kevin: Caramel vodka is shit.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-25

K. Ketel One

Linsay: Same as I but a little bit more shitty.

Elizabeth: I think this was nice. I glanced around at other people’s papers and they are writing nowhere near as much. I feel like I didn’t understand the assignment.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-23

Norm: Worst so far. Like a used jock strap.

Kevin: Glad it wasn’t caramel.

Kaylee: There is enough sugar in these vodkas to make me want to die/give me diabetes. This is pretty smooth tho.

Kelly: Not quite as gross as the previous vodka. A little more mild.

L. Luksusowa

Norm: It’s time to play the game! I feel like Lemmy would drink this.

Kevin: STROOONG. No flavor. I might be drunk.

Elizabeth: Did gag. NOT NICE. No good but part of me always feels like there’s a lower circle of hell.

Kelly: I’m chasing with a zasty pickle.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-13

Linsay: Turns out I don’t like unflavored straight vodka.

Kaylee: At this point they all taste the same. Vodka is a sham.

M. Oak by Absolut

Norm: Vodka that tastes like whiskey. Too gimmicky for my tastes. I would prefer beer flavoured vodka.

Kaylee: I need to buy batteries for my smoke detector. Fuck.

Kevin: It’s weird but the best of the bunch as a straight vodka shot.

Linsay: That’s vodka trying to be whiskey. Tastes a bit industrial. Doesn’t work but better than most of these…straight.

Kelly: Wood flavored vodka. Who thought of this? Felt like I was licking a table that someone spilled vodka on. Not mah thing.

Vodka Blind Taste Test-24

Elizabeth: Why is it that color? It is flavored? I’m scared.


What it was bland and weird? Not that the others have been full of flavor but like bleh. 2

N. SKYY Pineapple

Kevin: Best cos prolly pineapple + Hawaii > everything

Vodka Blind Taste Test-4

Kelly: The final vodka!!! Wow. I’m excited for this one. I hope it’s good.

Tastes like pineapple flavored water with a hint of vodka which sounds really gross but this was one of the better ones. I did it. God bless you, vodka.

Linsay: Another pineapple one? Tastes like a candle or a cruise ship beverage. Into it.

Kaylee: This smells great. I would wear this. This is fucking delicious. The more I drink the worst feel.

Elizabeth: None are the best and none are the worst. Who am I to judge? “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a Bible verse some people try to use to get out of Jury Duty. Deng. Yikes. Dinkies, tbh. CRAZY. Yuck feel like I’m going to berf (underlined 3x) is this the cilantro vodka??? Good lord this is taking me over the EDGE. I want to support infused or flavored vodkas but I just don;t know my dude.

Norm: This is the Omega/Okada of vodka. Six stars*!

*Hi reader. I feel like this wasn’t descriptive enough. But like, it’s just vodka, y’know? It was cool. Thanks for reading. Much love.


Money matters, but only when it comes to the worst. The vodkas that were reviewed most positive cost more than the cheapest. The cheapest vodka, Taaka, received the lowest ratings. The stuff that cost $20 a bottle tested just as well as the stuff that cost $50+. The bargain basement brands, products $10 and under, lived up to their bad reputations.

All of the fruit flavored vodkas tested higher than expected. The caramel and oak flavored vodkas did not test well.

The highest ranked vodka was SKYY. A close second was Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

The lowest ranked vodka was Taaka.

At the end of the test, no one was blown away or put off by the taste of vodka. In other words, успех!

Vodka Blind Taste Test-18