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Best vodka 2023: Our favourite budget and luxury vodkas from around the world

Shake, stir and save with the best vodkas you can buy

Gin may be the spirit du jour, but vodka is hot on its heels. Today’s best vodka is made in a variety of different ways, with more flavours than ice cream – and better still, there’s something for every budget. Vodka has for a long time had a poor reputation as a cheap and somewhat unpalatable drink but that simply isn’t the case.

Sure, there are some pretty vile vodkas on the market, just like there are bad-tasting gins, whisky and tequila. However, we believe once you’ve tried some of the best vodka out there, you might just have a change of heart. Vodka can be incredibly complex, smooth and most importantly enjoyable.

So if you’re a newbie to the world of good vodka and aren’t sure which to go for, our roundup of the smoothest, tastiest vodkas around will help you make the best decision based of your personal preferences and budget. Whether you want creamy or peppery, milky or potato-based, you’re bound to find something that world for you and that goes for whether you want to sip it neat or mix it.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best flavoured gin 

Best vodka: At a glance

How to choose the best vodka for you

What makes a great vodka?

Vodka can be completely neutral, with some brands distilled and treated to the extent that they have no aroma, no colour and no taste – which makes them entirely forgettable. Don’t get sucked in by sexy bottles and marketing-driven names like “premium” or “super premium”; a good vodka should be smooth (no burning throat), with flavour, texture and body.

How should I drink vodka?

Some like their vodka straight up, Russian-style; others prefer it on the rocks. But it’s one of the most versatile spirits around, so why not mix things up a bit? Vodka is at the heart of many a classic cocktail, including the Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan, and vodka Martini to name a few.

How is vodka made?

Vodka can be distilled from any fermentable agricultural product, from potatoes to grapes, from quinoa to beets and from rye to onions.

It all kicks off with milling the product, then cooking it with fresh, filtered water, turning the starch into sugar. The “mash” is then fermented to turn it to alcohol. Now you’ve got the “wash”’ which is distilled at least three times to refine it, after which purified water is added to reach the preferred alcohol percentage, and the vodka is filtered through a natural substance such as charcoal to remove the impurities. It’s up to the brand whether they want to add extra steps or repeat parts of the process as they see fit.

What about flavoured vodkas?

Vodka is an excellent flavour carrier, with numerous styles on offer ranging from ginger to lemon and pineapple coconut sorbet to toffee. Some of these taste highly artificial, however; look for natural flavours and don’t compromise on quality or character.

How much do I need to spend?

Prices vary from around £15 to over £100. At the cheaper end, vodkas are better mixed than sipped, while pricier ones usually mean more smoothness – the kind you can serve on the rocks and be confident you won’t burn your throat off. You don’t always get what you pay for, though, so if you’re really splashing out, do your research – in particular, check for any awards and to see if we’ve reviewed it.

How we test vodka

We put every vodka we recommend through a series of taste tests to assess flavour, quality and value for money. First we try each vodka on its own – if you’ve bought a vodka, you want to be sure it’s good quality before going any further. We consider whether it lines up with the bottle description and the distiller’s tasting notes, as well as whether it has a crisp, smooth finish, as opposed to a sharp burn. Following the solo test, we pair each with its most popular mixers to see if it satisfies the taste buds as a long drink. Next, we shake it up with a few classic vodka cocktails to assess if any new and exciting flavours appear.

To finish, we compare the overall taste and quality of each vodka against similar products within that price range to ensure every recommendation is good value for money – whatever your budget.

READ NEXT: Perfect your margarita with the best tequila you can buy right now

The best vodkas you can buy in 2023

1. Rogue wave: Best affordable vodka

Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at Amazon

If you didn’t already know, BrewDog crafts more than just beer. In fact, it has an entire spirits section filled with delicious offerings. We love the super-smooth and very affordable Rogue Wave vodka, which is distilled over seven days and filtered just once.

BrewDog proves that triple-filtration doesn’t always make for good vodka. In fact, this crystal clear spirit is incredibly easy to drink. It’s sweet on the nose with a smooth and subtle citrus taste. It finishes with a little kick of spice but is lovely both on its own and with a mixer.

Key detailsAlcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: UK

2. Kavka: Best Polish vodka

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon

When a small distillery has been producing vodka for over 200 years, you know they mean business. This is definitely the case for Kavka, which prides itself on producing vodka ‘how it used to taste’.

The first thing you notice is that there is very little on the nose but once you taste it, there’s plenty of sweetness, with hints of fruit. We also found it to be a little flowery, though it was spicy and almost earthy on the finish. This is a wonderfully complex vodka that is best enjoyed on its own but would still do well with a mixer that isn’t too overpowering.

Key detailsAlcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: Poland

3. Konik’s Tail: Best sipping vodka

Price when reviewed: £39 | Check price at The Whiskey Exchange

Regularly rated by vodka lovers as the best sipping vodka around, Konik’s Tail is named after the wild ponies of Poland’s primeval forest. It was originally created by entrepreneur Pleurat Shabani in his kitchen, using three very different grains – spelt, rye and early winter wheat. It’s exceptionally smooth, slightly spicy and beautifully rich, with some bartenders calling it “martini in a bottle”.

For best results, freeze your martini glasses (never the vodka itself, which should be stored at room temperature), then stir it over cubed ice in a mixing glass for half a minute, before pouring into your martini glasses and garnishing with a lemon twist. Perfection.

Key details – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: Poland

Check price at The Whiskey Exchange

4. Jaffa Cake Vodka: Best dessert vodka

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon

We’ve never had the impulse to dip Jaffa Cakes into our vodka, but thank goodness someone else did. We’re already big fans of Jaffa Cake Gin and this repeats the same trick with vodka. Blending the eponymous Jaffa Cakes with a judicious helping of fresh orange peel, cocoa powder and pure grain vodka, this is a veritable dessert in a shot glass.

Pour yourself a shot, close your eyes, and you’ll be forgiven for having a deliciously confused set of taste buds. There is a gentle orange tinge to the vodka, but it almost tastes like there should be a rich, chocolatey liqueur in your glass; lashings of orange peel and milk chocolate melting into a smooth vodka warmth. This makes it unusually easy to drink straight, but use it as a basis for some classic cocktails and the unique Jaffa Cake flavours punch through with great effect.

Key details – Alcohol content: 42%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: England

5. Dima’s Vodka: Best Ukrainian Vodka

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Master of Malt

Featuring organic barley, wheat and rye, Dima’s is a stand-out Ukrainian vodka that’s wonderfully smooth and complex. On the nose, there are hints of spice and lightly toasted bread, while on the tongue you get delicate cereal sweetness, followed by nut and biscuit. The mouthfeel is extremely buttery and soft, with almost no harshness at the end.

It’s wonderful on its own, but Dima’s suggest enjoying it alongside a pickle. In fact, they’ll even send you some snacking pickles along with your bottle. If you prefer your vodka in cocktail form, we found it worked best in drinks where the vodka’s distinctive flavour was allowed to shine through.

Key details – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: Ukraine

Check price at Master of Malt

6. Haku: Best Japanese Vodka

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon

Japanese vodka is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and after tasting this, we know why. This is by far the most subtle vodka we tasted during our group test and though the subtleness wasn’t favoured by everyone, it was agreed that it made for a beautifully drinkable vodka.

Made with 100% white rice, Haku is filtered through charcoal bamboo, which supposedly adds to its soft mouthfeel. It definitely was the smoothest, creamiest vodka we tasted and had a subtle sweetness, much like you’d expect from sticky white rice. There’s the slightest hint of pepper at the end and it’s a bit like a strong sake. This is definitely one to drink on its own, any mixer would destroy its subtle taste.

Key detailsAlcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: Japan

7. Chase English Potato Vodka: Best British single-estate vodka

Price when reviewed: £37 | Check price at Amazon

Made using top-notch, gluten-free potatoes from a family farm in Herefordshire, Chase is the only single-estate distillery in the UK. That means that the makers do absolutely everything: after the potatoes are grown, they’re mashed, fermented and distilled three times onsite through a copper still.

Chase has received a fair few awards over the years for this, their signature spirit, including World’s Best Vodka at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s crisp, yet with a buttery richness, and is best served straight from the fridge.

Key details – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: England

8. Black Cow Vodka: Best milk vodka

Price when reviewed: £27 | Check price at Amazon

Black Cow is the world’s first vodka made purely from cow’s milk – the brainchild of West Dorset dairy farmer Jason Barber. The milk comes from his 250-strong dairy herd, and with a true waste-not-want-not approach, he uses the whey to make his award-winning cheeses.

The vodka doesn’t taste milky as such, but it is rounded, slightly oily and very creamy, with a wonderfully clean finish. The brand has come up with its own cocktails too – we’ve tried a few and found them all delectable.

Key details – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: England

9. Chase Marmalade Vodka: Best flavoured vodka

Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at Amazon

Another corker from Herefordshire distiller Chase, this marmalade flavoured vodka is guaranteed to go down a treat at a garden party. While you may expect it to be overly sweet, it’s not. Instead, it beautifully balances sweet mandarin flavours with tangy, zesty notes of orange peel, leaving a welcome bittersweet finish.

This award-winning flavour is made with Chase’s original potato vodka (which also appears in this roundup) and fresh, Seville orange marmalade. Its dynamic flavour profile makes it one to savour on a warm day.

Key details – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 700ml; Country of origin: England

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