10 New Flavored Vodkas to Try
Just two years ago, it seemed like the flood of flavored vodkas would never end. Every week another new flavor hit the shelves, often eye-catching variations like smoked salmon or pickle (yes, both are actual vodka flavors).
Today, the flood hasn’t quite stopped—but the rushing waters seem to be shifting. Judging by the latest crop of new flavored vodkas (and by “new,” we mean new to the U.S. market in the last couple of years), fewer confected cake- and candy-flavored vodkas are rolling out, while spicy and “spiced” flavors are enjoying a modest uptick. Fruity flavors remain stalwart contenders.
That said, vodka—including flavored vodka—remains a robust category. Vodka remained the number one-selling spirits category in 2013, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, with flavored vodkas driving a significant portion of sales.
But when the rush to novelty subsides, that leaves room to focus on craftsmanship. Some of the most pleasant surprises among this month’s offerings came from Seattle microdistiller Oola. Although Contributing Editor and Washington resident Paul Gregutt has sung Oola’s praises before, this was the first time their “grain-to-glass” spirits have come up for review—and their vodkas flavored with
rosemary, citrus and chili pepper lived up to the high billing.
Built on a base spirit distilled from organic Washington State wheat, the Oola line overall had slightly higher alcohol levels (42% abv, in a category where most range from 35–40%), but across the board these were the flavored vodkas that most closely resembled freshly-infused spirits made at the bar or at home. If this is an example of what flavored vodka can be, then it’s easy to support opening the floodgates for more flavored vodkas to come.