I hate to say it, but I don’t really get excited about vodka. Some of the Russian and Eastern European traditions surrounding vodka are pretty exciting to me. I like any tradition that involves little pickles and multiple glasses of ice cold booze. I like the idea of knocking that booze back quickly, in shot form, but always with friends and always under the auspices of a special occasion. (Hey, let’s all get together and celebrate National Tiny Pickle Day!) And I love the idea of finishing a bottle after you open it. It’s bad luck to leave any vodka in the bottle. All of these Russian traditions excite me, but the vodka itself? Meh.
I mean, it’s odorless, colorless and unless you’re buying the good stuff, it basically tastes like burning. And let’s be honest, most of the time, I’m not buying the good stuff. I certainly went through a martini phase where I would drown a few ounces of Ketel One in olive brine, but these days, if I’m drinking vodka, it’s whatever is in the well poured hastily into some tonic and doused with lime.
But I am self-aware enough to realize that this is my own personal hang up. There’s great vodka out there. Vodka that is not odorless or tasteless. Robust vodkas made from wheat or rye and sometimes potatoes. Woody Creek, out of Colorado, comes to mind. Reyka, out of Iceland is good. And you really can’t go wrong with Ketel One or Grey Goose. Still, how can you get excited about vodka when there’s bourbon in the world?
And yet, when Purity Vodka came across my desk, I was intrigued. It’s a Swedish brand that makes vodka from organic wheat and barley and distills it 34 times. That’s a lot. Grey Goose is distilled five times. Tito’s is distilled six times. Belvedere is distilled four times. Then you have Effen Vodka which is distilled 100 times.
A lot of producers put an emphasis on the number of times their vodka is distilled, the marketing hype equating a higher number of distillations to a better quality vodka. That’s not necessarily the case. If you’re making booze from crappy ingredients, then distilling the hell out of it will take some of the fire out of the water. But if you’re looking for a great tasting vodka, don’t worry about the number of times it’s been distilled; look at the grains that went into that still in the first place.
Take Purity Vodka. Yeah, it’s distilled 34 times, which is a lot, but I’d argue that what makes this a great vodka (and it is a great vodka) is that it’s made from organic wheat and barley. Superior ingredients make a superior booze, particularly if that booze isn’t aged.
As for how Purity tastes…um, awesome. Grab a bottle and do your own taste test. Drink it back to back with one of the best selling vodkas on the market, something like Tito’s, and you’ll notice the difference in quality on the first sip. Purity is warm without being hot, and has a a nutty, almost savory note that dominates the character. There’s also a trace of lime, like something you’d get from a great tequila. And that’s drinking Purity at room temperature, which I’d urge you to do. Add a chunk of ice and it develops a smooth, creamy texture. But be warned, some of that nuttiness disappears when you add ice, and I actually miss the warmth from drinking it neat. Is it possible that I’ve found a vodka that I’d rather have at room temperature?
Obviously, Purity would make a killer martini, but I just want to drink it straight. And don’t bother pairing it with any mixers—Purity would be completely lost and wasted in a cocktail. Save that for the crap in the well.
Distillery: Purity Vodka Distillery
Availability: Year round