The 20 Best Vodka Brands of 2020
words: Tim McKirdy illustration: Gerry Selian
Once upon a time, the quality of a vodka was largely determined by what it didn’t have, rather than what it did. In other words: the more neutral the profile, the better. In fact, up until very recently, the TTB officially defined vodka as “neutral spirits distilled or treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.”
That definition was finally updated in May 2020, with the part about no “distinctive character, aroma, taste or color” dropped. This is a good thing, because all the bottles featured in this list might otherwise technically be deemed illegal — or at least not legally vodka.
Following a tasting of dozens of brands, VinePair found that the vodka landscape is rich in options, with each showing its own subtle character. None of the bottles that made this year’s list burned when sipped — at room temperature, no less — and combined, they highlight the diversity of the category.
From unusual base ingredients (natural whey protein, anyone?) to bottles that double as bespoke decanters, here are the best vodkas for every budget.
Another New Zealand offering, this vodka is also distilled from whey. Its aromas are clean and mineral-rich, with just a hint of citrus. The whey protein emerges on the palate, serving well-rounded sips and a slightly spicy finish but no hint of alcoholic burn. Average price: $30.