Hand crafted, small batch vodkas dominated the 2023 Best Of Awards. While subtle nuances and flavours make vodka tasting challenging, the judges – a panel of top industry insiders – were up for the task. “The vodka category is often hard to judge, but I look for brilliance and mouthfeel,” explains judge Matthew Linklater, brand ambassador for Campari.
There was no shortage of flavour to be discovered in one of the categories though. Very much en vogue in 2023, flavoured vodka is the fastest growing vodka segment according to Global Data statistics – a trend attributed to drinkers seeking a more adventurous taste. Bold and surprising flavours are in, as is anything that hints at nostalgia, so be prepared for a little reminiscing as you read on to see what vodkas most impressed the judges and why.
Handcrafted and distilled with pure, crystal-clear water from Mount Wellington, Tasmania, Pure Origin is “a beautiful representation of all that is pure, smooth and velvety when it comes to the Australian vodka category,” says judge Holly Klintworth, director and distiller of Bass & Flinders. Enjoy the crisp taste and delicate notes of citrus peel and cracked peppercorn neat and paired with cheddar cheese and nuts. Or head into the garden and celebrate the arrival of spring with a jug of hard limeade.
Finalist: Tilde Australian Raw Vodka
Impressing judges with its depth of character and delicate aromas of sugar cane, pine and citrus, Tilde Australian Raw Vodka is a unique low-intervention vodka, minimally filtered to let the natural flavours shine. Sip with soda water and a squeeze of lemon.
Created by the prestigious House of Suntory – famed for Japanese craft whiskies – Haku Vodka is distilled from white rice and filtered through a unique bamboo filter system. “A slightly sweet but very clean vodka,” remarks judge David Irwin, founder and distiller of Patient Wolf Gin. “Smooth on the palate, with pleasant minerality on the finish,” adds judge Matt Linklater. Try serving neat with sushi or sashimi. Or top with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
Finalist: Stolichnaya Vodka
Triple distilled and filtered through birch charcoal and quartz sands, Stolichnaya is a truly classic vodka with a signature smoothness and creamy mouthfeel that made it a standout for judges. For a delicious Stoli Mule, fill a glass with ice and add 2 parts vodka, 4 parts ginger beer and ½ part fresh lime juice. The spice of the ginger beer and tang of fresh lime will pair perfectly with grilled fish and a citrus relish.
With a delicate sweetness and lingering chocolate finish, Lamington Vodka from Gold Coast distillery Wild Flower pays tribute to a great Australian culinary icon. “The Wildflower Lamington’s triple threat of strawberry, cocoa and coconut were incredibly well integrated, and the liquid’s fantastic mouthfeel ensured it stayed true to the vodka category,” says judge Matthew Linklater. Elevate your espresso martini game and mix with coffee liqueur, brewed coffee and honey.
Finalist – Billson’s Musk Vodka
Remember musk sticks? Limited edition Billson’s Musk Vodka is infused with over 20 kilos of them, imparting a sweet, floral flavour. Enjoy on ice with a splash of lemonade or get creative with cocktails.
Products featured are available from 06/09/23 to 10/10/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.