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10 Vodkas Worth Sipping

What’s new in the world of vodka? A new wave of producers are aiming to make unique spirits, using base ingredients that waver from the traditional barley or potato, in order to lend a distinct flavor and sense of terroir to the products. These are vodkas that are meant to be versatile in cocktails but are often soft enough for sipping. Here are a few brands to check out.

Absolut Elyx Yes, it’s made by a major producer, but Elyx has more elegance and nuance than many other large-scale vodkas on the market right now. It’s made from single estate wheat from Sweden and mixes splendidly in cocktails. Try it with vermouth for a silky classic Martini. $40, binnys.com

Aylesbury Duck Vodka A staple in quality-minded cocktail bars around the country, this vodka was formulated by the bar gang who run The 86 Co. as a clean spirit that would be versatile in a variety of cocktails. With a light and silky body (thanks to the base of white winter wheat), the vodka has an underlying earthiness, light citrus notes and a peppercorn flavor on the finish. $20, binnys.com

Corbin Sweet Potato Vodka from Sweet Potato Spirits While plenty of vodkas are made from potatoes, hardly any are distilled from the vegetable’s cousin—the sweet potato. To challenge the status quo, Sweet Potato Spirits founder and distiller David Souza harvests golden-hued yams from his family’s 100 year-old farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley to impart a big round mouthfeel to this special spirit. “The front to mid palate is where you’ll experience a buttery or caramel notes, and as it moves to the back of your mouth, you’ll get a more nutty, earthy flavor followed by a very subtle sweetness on the finish,” he says. $30, klwines.com

Frey Ranch Vodka Made at one of the only estate distilleries in the U.S. (meaning they grow the grains on the same farm where they’re distilled), Frey Ranch uses a blend of four grains, including wheat, corn, barley and rye. It’s one of the few vodkas that promises enough of a prominently soft and round texture that lends itself well to sipping neat. $25, totalwine.com

Hangar 1 Straight Vodka Founded in 2001 by St. George Spirits alum Jorg Rupf, Hangar 1’s Straight Vodka is one of the few American vodkas made with grapes as the base ingredient. These juicy fruits impart a subtle floral flavor and silky mouthfeel. Hangar 1 is making even more vodka than ever at the recently opened new distillery, and you’ll get a chance to visit when the brand new visitor’s center opens in early 2016. $25, binnys.com

Royal Dutch Distillers Rutte Vodka Recently introduced to the U.S. market, this Dutch vodka has rich, round body that’s pleasing to sip. Organic wheat makes up the base, creating an understated spirit that also works well in a traditional Moscow Mule. $42, hitimewine.net

St. Augustine Florida Cane Vodka Distilled from 100% Florida sugar cane, this crystal-clear vodka has a natural sweetness and slightly grassy quality from the sugar base (the same typically used to make rhum agricole). It has a unique flavor that stands out in cocktails, without the aggressive bite of some vodkas. $29, vintageliquor.com

Snow Leopard Vodka Made entirely of spelt—a hearty wheat grown primarily in Europe—Snow Leopard Vodka has a fresh quality and creamy mouthfeel. The folks at the Polish distillery attribute this character to the grain’s naturally tough shell, which protects it from external pollutants. Plus, 15% of all profits go to snow leopard conservation projects. $40, astorwines.com

Square One Organic Rye Vodka A single-grain vodka made entirely from organic American rye, Square One’s flagship vodka has a slightly nutty spice and full body thanks to the dense grain base. All of the rye used at the distillery is 100% organic, and they choose not to filter through charcoal at the end of the distillation process in order to preserve the rye’s natural character.  $40, bevmo.com

Volstead Vodka Wryly dedicated to the “father of Prohibition” Andrew Volstead, this neutral grain-based vodka is filtered for 96 hours through charred coconut husks before bottling. “We experimented with several filtration options and found that the charred husks created a viscous mouthfeel,”  says head distiller Andrew Tice. “Additionally, the husks helped us create a more sustainable method for filtering our vodka—and that’s something we’re proud of as well.” Try it in a Vesper Martini$26, bevmo.com

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