Your first venture into a liquor store can feel somewhat overwhelming. For those who are new to choosing spirits, the many rows full of bottles may leave you confused about what you should buy. For example, if you are purchasing vodka for the first time, how can you tell which one you should buy? There are a few things to consider to help you make that choice.
Avoid Buzz Word Confusion
Like many consumer food and drink products, the buzzwords surrounding vodka products may leave you trying to decide what they mean or if they really make a difference. For example, you might see some vodkas specify how many times the product was distilled or filtered. The truth is that — excluding those with a trained palate — you will rarely tell the difference beyond the filtration and distillation of mid-shelf vodka compared to bottom-shelf products.
Avoid the gluten-free tax when choosing your vodka product as well. With gluten-free dietary needs increasing, more brands are opting for a "gluten-free" label and, sometimes, a price tag to match. Pure vodka products without any flavorings or additives are all inherently gluten-free. This is not a special feature of the brands that boast it and charge more, so avoid paying more for a bottle that says it is gluten-free when you could get a vodka that is just as good and also gluten-free for a fraction of the cost.
Remember That You Get What You Pay For, To A Limit
The philosophy that you get what you pay for does apply to vodka to a certain degree. That being said, there are limits. For example, when you compare the price of a bottom-shelf bottle of vodka with a mid-shelf or top-shelf product, there will be a marked difference. The bottom-shelf products are often sharper and carry a bit more of a burn. If you want something smooth for sipping, opt for a mid-shelf or higher product.
However, remember that mid-shelf products can be essentially equal in quality to many of the upper-shelf products, so avoid feeling as though you have to buy the most expensive bottle to get a good product. Try a few brands until you find the one that you enjoy the most. Personal preferences vary and some vodka products are creamer or brighter than others.
These are just a few of the things to think about when you're at a liquor store buying your first bottle of vodka. Whether you're shopping for something for mixed drinks or looking for a base for vanilla extract, the right vodka makes all the difference.