Fris Vodka

Fris Vodka
Fris Vodka

In my quest to find the best vodkas of the world, I went to Denmark. Well, okay, I didn’t actually travel that far, but I did have to go 2/3rds of the way down the aisle of my local Sam’s Liquor store in Westminster, CO to discover Fris Vodka which is imported from Denmark. Fris is unique for two reasons:

  • Fris Vodka uses a freeze-distillation process
  • Fris Vodka is made from whole grain wheat as opposed to potato or other grains

These two differences in the making of their vodka give Fris Vodka a cleaner taste and just a hint of distinct grain flavor – so says, the Fris Company.
After reviewing and learning to love Svedka Vodka, I found it difficult to try something new. Normally, Fris Vodka is in the same price range as Svedka Vodka: $19.00 – $23.00. I made the mistake of paying $25.00 for it at Sam’s which normally has very competitive prices. Either the bottle was mismarked or they rang it up wrong at the counter, though my receipt did clearly say that I had purchased, Fris. Even at $25.00, it’s still quite a bit cheaper than Grey Goose, and comes highly ranked by Wine Enthusiast with a rating of 89. The Wine Enthusiast is the outfit that recommended and rated Svedka so highly. As I indicated in my review on Svedka , it had a ranking of 93 just below the much pricier Grey Goose at 94. With a rating of 89; the wine enthusiast obviously believes Fris belongs rated among the Best Vodkas along with Grey Goose, Ketel One and Svedka at 94 and 93. Does it really taste like an 89 compared to these other three Best Vodkas?
The Fris Company website has very little textual information. Instead, their information on the freeze distillation process is in the form of a clever, scientific video. The video essentially explains how the distillation through freezing solids does a better job of removing impurities, which in-turn, results in a cleaner, more refreshing taste. When I opened the unusual-looking, wide-mouth bottle, I decided to take the Fris Company to task on their recommendation for mixing a little vodka with warm water in order to get a better sense of the aroma and subtleties of its grain flavor. I did immediately note that the Fris has a stronger smell than the Svedka, which is not necessarily a good thing. One thing I’ve noticed about the cheaper Vodkas such as Taaka, is they have a pungent smell ever so slightly reminiscent of natural gas. The first sip of Taaka certainly has a bite when you first taste it that reflects its unpleasant aroma. The Fris Vodka had just a very small hint of this aroma, but still, a much, much cleaner taste than Taaka, overall. There is certainly no comparison between Taaka and Fris, but how does Fris compare to Svedla? Having had a couple of martinis with straight Fris these last couple of evenings, I am inclined to agree with the Wine Enthusiast. Fris is a few notches below Svedka. Some might prefer the grainier, somewhat heavier flavor of Fris, but my taste buds indicate that Svedka has a cleaner, lighter, crisper and fresher taste .The Freeze Distillation process sounds impressive, but in reality it doesn’t beat the $20 1.75 Liter bottle of non-freeze distilled Svedka. While I paid a little more for the Fris, my guess is that I can find either of these vodkas in the 1.75 bottles for $19-$24. For a $20 bottle of vodka, the company might have the edge in the marketing department, but not in the taste department. As far my ongoing ratings of the, ‘Best Vodkas’ are concerned, I do think Fris belongs on the list.

One other note: Many people do not digest whole wheat grains well. If you’re among those who prefer a gluten free or whole-wheat free diet, you will certainly want to avoid Fris. However, if you don’t mind wheat in your diet and want something a bit different that still has a clean, fresh flavor at a reasonable price, give Fris a try.

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Svedka Vodka

Svedka Vodka
a Review on a Popular Brand

Svedka Vodka vs the Best Vodkas
svedka-vodka-review

Vodka Review

Is Svedka among the Best?

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If you believe that the Wine Enthusiast knows anything about alcohol other than wine, then you would certainly have to consider Svedka vodka one of the best. You might be wondering why a cheap-martini-drinking guy who once tried to sell you on a $7.99, 1.75-liter of Taaka Vodka would even be asking a question about, best vodkas. After a few of the negative comments from readers and several headaches later, I’m now convinced that I had greatly over-rated Taaka.  Not that I ever said Taaka was necessarily a good Vodka, I just didn’t think it was bad enough to spoil My Top-10 Mixed Drinks List. I also felt that I could disguise any of it’s impure tastes by shaking it well with ice and mixing with olive juice.  I still think if you drink vodka and cranberry juice you’re crazy to buy anything else. However, if you’re a martini drinker like me, you will eventually come to dislike Taaka Vodka for it’s pungent aroma and rough bite.  So, a few weeks ago I went to the liquor store to find an upgraded Vodka that wouldn’t break the bank account. I found a really good vodka at a really good price.  Here’s how it all went down…Burnett’s Vodka is almost twice the price of Taaka, but for the price I thought it represented a cheap upgrade. So, I grabbed a 1.75 Liter bottle of Burnett’s Vodka and was about to head to the cash register with it, when the advertisement caught my eye: Svedka  (best value: $20.99) Actually, the Burnett’s Vodka was only$13.99, but the Svedka came with a little tag listing the Best Vodkas as rated by the Wine Enthusiast:

Svedka Vodka Rated Highly by Wine Enthusiast

Best Vodkas Rating by Wine Enthusiast

This will give you an idea how Wine Enthusiast rates Svedka among some more popular, more expensive brands. I will warn you, however, that Wine Enthusiast doesn’t appear to have a real good grasp on premium vodka. Grey Goose is consistently ranked inferior among vodka drinkers. Maybe they only know wine or maybe they are subconsciously influenced by the high price of this French brand, Grey Goose vodka.

  • Grey Goose: 94
  • Svedka: 93
  • Ketel One: 93
  • Stolichnaya: 91
  • Absolut: 90
  • SKYY: 89

The price of the Svedka is considerably less than the number one, Grey Goose and the Ketel One which it tied for second. I figured $21.00 for a vodka that ranked right up their with the best was a bargain. I decided to give it a try, believing that it would probably not taste so good that it would replace Burnett’s Vodka or another less expensive brand for my everyday martin-making vodka. Boy, was I wrong. Maybe, it’s just the hard-core training I had with the Taaka, but I never appreciated a martini more than the first one made with Svedka Vodka. Since my first purchase, I’ve bought Svedka two more times and I don’t think I will ever bother to downgrade vodka again. I really look forward to martinis made with Svedka almost as much as I do a good quality gin. During my Taaka days, I was wondering why I was getting headaches the next day after drinking just two martinis. If it wasn’t for the fact the Svedka Vodka is so smooth and clean tasting that it tempts me to drink three martinis instead of two, I am pretty certain the headaches would be fewer with this vodka, too. I am not sure what other ‘experts’ have said about Svedka, but in my opinion, neither Grey Goose nor Ketel One Vodka is worth a penny more. Even better news is that I have found Svedka on sale for even less money than the $21.00 that I paid the first time. I’ve seen Svedka Vodka in the 1.75 liter for as low as $17.99. That is indeed a bargain which a vodka martini drinker cannot afford to pass up with his olives. Svedka Vodka deserves to be mentioned among the best vodkas.

Highly Recommended

 

Long Term Svedka Impression

Svedka has some very redeeming qualities which are evident by the fact I keep coming back to it after I’ve tried so many other vodkas. I think one of the characteristics that makes Svedka such an endearing vodka is its versatility. Svedka vodka tastes smooth and refreshing whether you choose to sip it; shoot or shake in a martini. It is good enough that you don’t have to add kool-aid or lime juice to enjoy drinking it on the rocks. Of course, my favorite way to drink Svedka Vodka is shaken vigorously with ice in a stainless-steel shaker and poured into a martini glass, straight-up with a couple of olives.

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Taaka Vodka

Taaka Vodka
vodka-brands

How does Taaka Vodka stack up against up a good Russian Vodka and other premium vodka brands like Grey Goose, Kettle One (ketel one) or Svedka Vodka? Let us take the Taaka Taste Test and see.  First off, let me make it clear that this review is for typical vodka drinkers. That is, the majority of vodka-drinking Americans who think it is either a cool-aid, orange-juice mixer or for martinis. Obviously, there are real connoisseurs out there who appreciate the subtleties and distinctive flavors of the very best Russian vodka which even goes beyond a dry vodka martini. The first premium brand of Vodka I ever tried was Ketel One (Kettle One) and I will admit I wasn’t experienced enough to appreciate the higher price tag. Thus, this testing is aimed at the typical vodka martini and mixed vodka drinkers. For those of you who enjoy Cranberry-Grey Goose, screwdrivers and other sweet and sour, mixed vodka drinks, the results of this review may be even more revealing than to your average martini drinker who uses few other ingredients to distort it’s pure flavor. The question is, have you been brainwashed into paying 4 to 5 times more for say, Stolichnaya, Belvedere, Grey Goose or other premium vodka brands, or is it really worth the perception of improved taste that advertisers continue to push on you? Understand, that a true vodka snob would not necessarily waste an expensive bottle of vodka on many of these drinks some of us are mixing with this expensive alcohol. So, is this something any of us really need to do? My impression from the opinions and comments of my own friends and acquaintances is that they believe it is necessary to avoid cheap vodka to enjoy their favorite cocktails. Is this really the case, and by whose taste buds shall we decide? Okay, I once tested dog-food, I think I can handle drinking a few vodka martinis. I should also mention that I’ve been making and drinking Taaka vodka Martinis for two years. In case you haven’t deduced this by now, Taaka is a very cheap brand of vodka. Can cheap be good? Let’s find out:

Vodka Brands Sampled

For this experiment, I choose two popular, more expensive brands, one popular medium-priced selection and compared all three of them to my standby favorite, Taaka.  Here is what I chose:

  1. Grey Goose: Popular, expensive, highly-advertised import Vodka from France.
  2. Absolut: Popular, mid-priced, highly-advertised import Vodka from Sweden.
  3. Taaka vodka: Dirt cheap vodka used in my martinis the last couple of years.

When I say, ‘high-priced’ or ‘mid-priced’, I should note that it is in comparison to the reviewed subject vodka brand, Taaka vodka. For instance a .750 Liter bottle of Grey Goose costs around $30.00. A 1.75 Liter bottle of Taaka can be had for just $7.99! Yes, that’s right. Over twice the volume of vodka for less than 1/3rd the price. That’s enough extra martinis to make you wish they sold Taaka olives to go with them. Stoli and Absolut are around $20 for a .75 Liter Bottle.

Vodka Testing Criteria

Cranberry and Grey Goose sounds so much hipper, trendier and tastier than Taaka  vodka and Grey Goose, but let’s remember what cranberry tastes like. It’s flavor is strong, sour and bitter enough to disguise the taste of a  glass of Clorox. For that reason, cranberry and vodka is probably not the best way to evaluate brands of vodka, and I think the vast majority of vodka snobs who suck back shots at a time, singing and dancing Russian folks songs with precision and clarity, would agree with me. On the other hand, the majority of us aren’t drinking our vodka that way and probably can’t remember any Russian folk songs either – at least not until we’ve had a few too many drinks. For that reason, the best test of vodka quality means how it tastes in its very most popular, subtle, slightly-altered state: The vodka martini; shaken vigorously in a stainless steel shaker of ice cubes and served in one of those snob-like, stemmed glasses with olives. To be even more credible with my testing procedures, I poured each of the vodka brands into their own glass and observed their aromas before sipping and tasting them in their non-chilled, pure form. I then mixed each of them separately in their own stainless steel shaker of five ice cubes and poured into individual martini glasses, side by side. Before inserting olives, I sampled each of them twice. For the final test, I dropped a couple of olives into each of the martini glasses, took them to the table, sat down, relaxed and enjoyed each of them by alternating sips at a time. Occasionally, I had my wife try each of them in between sips of her scotch Rob-Roy. So, now you know the science and procedures, let’s get to the results.

Vodka Brands Taste Test Results

I thought all three of the vodkas shared similar aromas. Nothing from their individual aromas indicated to me which of them would have the best taste. Upon taking straight sips of them one at a time, the Absolute stood out as having the most distinct flavor; a crisp, almost plastic-like taste. The Grey Goose was least flavorful, but light and rather sweet. The Taaka vodka had a bit more edge or bite but not enough to tip off the price tag. I was encouraged by the first warm sip. After shaking them with ice and tasting each of them without olives, it became even more difficult to become convinced of any conclusions about price vs. quality. I was pretty sure the Taaka was a tad more bitter than the rest of them, but not enough to keep me from wanting to drink the rest of the martini. I dropped olives into each of them, and proceeded to the final stage. I sat at the dinner table and took my time with each of them, going back and forth,  trying to convince myself that the slightly sweeter, pure and cleaner taste of the Grey Goose was enough to justify the eight-fold increase in cost. Taaka vodka seems to sit on the middle of my tongue’s taste buds for a moment longer, where-as the Grey Goose seemed to touch the tip of my tongue with a bit of sweetness and nearly disappeared in flavor as I swallowed it. Grey Goose was the lightest. The Absolut fell somewhere in between, yet continued to have that plastic-like taste which wasn’t entirely unpleasant, but distinct from the rest. Using my wife as a blind-taste subject, I had her compare sips of the most expensive Grey Goose, to the very cheapest Taaka.  I asked her which one she thought was the Grey Goose. She chose Taaka! As I got to the bottom of the martini glasses, and made my way towards the salt and tanginess of the olives, it became even more difficult to be convinced I should pay more for any of the other three vodka brands. For dirty martini drinkers, I imagined that the four brands would be even more difficult to distinguish from each other. Having drank the better part of three martinis, my imagination buzzed in bewilderment over the millions of dollars that must have been poured into bitter  glasses of cranberry juice over the last few years years due to those persuasive Grey Goose ads and TV commercials. The power of suggestion is every bit as powerful as three martinis…but far more expensive.  My recommendation is this: Next time you think you need to buy an expensive vodka to go with that screw driver, cranberry or martini, Taaka yourself out of it.  The ratings results don’t justify the price. I realize that no review on Vodka taste testing can be complete without testing a real Russian Vodka. I will save that for a future review update. Meanwhile, here is the way I rank the three vodka martinis made with Grey Goose, Absolut and Taaka.

Taaka Vodka Comparisons

  1. Grey Goose: 88
  2. Absolut: 82
  3. Taaka: 81