For the best potato vodka, look no further than Chopin.
Made in Poland with locally sourced potatoes, it’s distilled 4 times for smoothness. This vodka has earned a strong reputation for its subtle, earthy flavor profile and its outstanding mixability. Try it and you’ll agree with us: Chopin’s reputation for being one of the world’s best vodkas is well-deserved.
You say tomato, I say tomato; you say potato, I say vodka.
Today’s vodka market includes vodkas made from all kinds of products: wheat, rye, barley, corn, molasses, grapes, and of course potatoes. Most folks assume that vodka was first made using potatoes. Most folks, however, are wrong.
Vodka was first produced from wheat and other grains. Only much later — probably 500 years later — was vodka made using potatoes.
It’s also a common misconception that vodka is basically tasteless (or that it only tastes like paint thinner) and therefore, that all vodka is the same.
Actually, the base ingredient used to make any spirit will necessarily affect the final product. Vodkas made from potatoes tend to have a heavier mouth-feel and aromatic profile than vodkas made from wheat. But whether made from potatoes or wheat or anything else, they all deliver that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from throwing back a few drinks.
But if you are interested in drinking vodka for its taste — i.e., if you are not just interested in getting schnockered — then understanding the subtleties of potato vodka is a must. We’re here to help.
We undertook extensive internet research, received lots of feedback from industry experts and trusted vodka lovers, and then spent a great deal of time testing these vodkas ourselves. It’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make for you.
The Potato Vodkas We RAVE About
Best Top Shelf Potato Vodka: Chopin
The quadrupled-distilled, Polish-made Chopin is our top winner for the best potato vodka. With just a hint of the sweet earthiness that potato vodkas are known for, Chopin is a wonderfully subtle spirit that’s perfect for mixing.
Best Mid-Shelf Potato Vodka: Vikingfjord
Our mid-shelf winner, Vikingfjord, is made with water from the Jostedal Glacier in Arctic Norway. This vodka has a bit of a rougher edge than some, but that’s what we love about it — it’s the perfect counterbalance for sweet cocktail mixes.
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Best Budget Potato Vodka: Luksusowa
A lot of countries make good vodka, but Poland will give you the best bang for your buck. At just $13 a bottle, Luksusowa is proof that great vodka doesn’t have to come at a great price. (80 proof, to be exact.)
While vodka production and consumption is nowhere near as old as beer or wine, it’s still pretty old. Most people think that production began somewhere in the 8th or 9th century.
Vodka can be made from any plant matter that is starch- or sugar-rich. Unless the plant matter already has sugars in it, like fruit or molasses, the raw materials have to be broken down so that the starches can be accessed.
Usually, the raw material is heated to form a mash. Then enzymes are added to help break down the starch into sugars.
Next, heat is applied to the mixture, converting the sugars into ethanol. This process leads to what is usually called a “wash.” This is distilled multiple times to extract the spirit, and usually multiple distillations produces a higher proof spirit.
Once the spirit is distilled to specifications, the alcohol content of the ethanol is usually around 95%, which is much too high for consumption. So, after a purification process, water is added to dilute the alcohol on its way to bottling.
Softer water is generally better, since soft water doesn’t contain as many salts or ions which can affect the taste of the vodka. Obviously good water is a must, since almost 70% of a bottle of vodka is made up of water.
After adding an additional softener like honey to help the smoothness of the spirit, the filtering process begins. Before the modern age, filtration simply meant letting the spirit stand so that impurities and particulates could fall to the bottom of the pot and then removed.
Nowadays, charcoal filtering is the preferred method. The aim in the filtering process is to render the taste, feel, and smell of the vodka more and more to the liking of the distiller. All along the way, the master distiller is tasting the spirit to shepherd it to its final form.
Potatoes: An Origin Story
Potatoes were not the original ingredient used for making vodka. That privilege goes to wheat or rye. That’s because potatoes are not native to Europe — they originally came from Peru. The crop wasn’t introduced to the “vodka belt” nations until the 17th century.
Potatoes were originally a luxury of the wealthy and didn’t become a staple crop for the masses until the 18th century. How did that happen? It happened when the Swedish scientist and agronomist Countess Eva Ekeblad discovered that potatoes could be used to make flour and — wait for it — alcohol!
For her discovery, Ekeblad was admitted to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1746 at the young age of 24. You can bet that was quite an induction party!
The use of potatoes in the production of vodka picked up steam over the next 200 hundred years, only experiencing a brief decline during the great potato blight of the 19th century. Among the traditional materials used to produce vodka, potatoes tend to be the most labor intensive because preparing them for the mash stage requires additional steps, like peeling the skin.
Compared to wheat- or grain-based vodkas, a potato vodka is usually a bit heavier with a dense feel in the mouth, while the flavor profile tends to be more flavorless with a bit more natural sweetness.
These qualities make potato vodkas great for use in cocktails, since they don’t overpower with their own natural flavor.
Yes, there was in fact a vodka war. It was recent. No shots were fired. And one of the sides was a group of countries known as the “vodka belt.”
The conflict broke out in the European Union in 2007 around the definition of what kinds of spirits could be sold under the label “vodka.” This happened in the wake of the success of Cîroc, the French vodka made from grapes — you know, P. Diddy’s favorite drink.
Luckily no blood was shed — though I’m sure plenty of liquor was spilled — and a compromise was made in 2007 with the so-called Schnellhardt compromise.
This required labeling to clearly state if the vodka was produced using non-traditional ingredients. Polish producers are not happy with the settlement, but at least during this brief armistice we can still enjoy a refreshing vodka tonic!
Then we developed a scoring system and ranked each potato vodka based on the following criteria:
- Viscosity: Potato vodkas bring several signature aspects to the table, but none is more important than its unique texture.
So, before you journey into the world of potato vodkas, check out our list so you can make an informed and delicious choice!
Best Potato Vodkas
Our choice for the best potato vodka is the Polish-made Chopin. This vodka was introduced to the market in 1992, and has been widely hailed as an excellent top-shelf vodka. Named for the famous Polish composer, Chopin is produced using locally sourced Polish potatoes. It is distilled 4 times for an exceptionally smooth finish.
One of the claims to fame of Chopin is its mixability. This comes from the fact that this vodka has a very subtle flavor profile with some notes of vanilla and the traditional sweetness that comes with most vodkas. The aromas offer mild earthy notes and some hints of fruit.
Offering a viscous and creamy mouth-feel, this is a great vodka for martinis and Bloody Marys.
- Subtle flavors
Second on our list is this Pennsylvania product. Prentiss Orr and Barry Young founded their distillery with the ambition of making a classic old world vodka. And if you ask us, they’ve succeeded! Orr and Young set up their distillery in a glass factory where the bottles used for production are produced on site. They use locally grown potatoes and a specially designed 1200 liter copper pot still to create this small-batch vodka.
For 3 years straight, this vodka was ranked as one of the best in the world. That’s because it is packed with flavors for the nose and palate. There is a fruity scent and the expected smells of vegetation and earthiness that you find in most potato vodkas, while the palate is sweet with hints of vanilla and mineral water. The finish is smooth and the texture is creamy.
This is an ideal vodka for sipping or for cocktails. The packaging includes a handwritten signature on each bottle, which expresses the care and craft that has gone into creating this excellent vodka!
- Sweet, earthy palate
The Virginia-based Mularkey distillery burst onto the spirits scene in 2016, and they have taken the liquor world by storm. Among the accolades that have come their way is a gold medal for their Divine Clarity vodka, won at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Oh, and their gin and whiskey both received bronze medals too.
This is on top of winning the gold medal in 2017 at the American Distilling Institutes 11th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits. Suffice to say, these folks know what they are doing.
Named for the distillers’ Irish heritage, Murlarkey vodka is distilled 16 times before it is charcoal filtered. The flavor includes a traditional potato sweetness, and the distillation process has rendered an exceptionally smooth finish. This is a perfect potato vodka for sipping or mixing in your favorite cocktail!
- Charcoal filtered
Karlsson’s Gold is the brainchild of Börje Karlsson, the so-called “Father of Absolut.” There are several details that set this vodka apart from others on our list. First, not only are the potatoes locally sourced, but 7 varieties are used. And what’s more, they are spring potatoes, and so are picked just as the skin is beginning to form.
Second, all of these different varieties of potato are distilled separately once, then combined without filtering. What results is a unique and flavorful potato vodka. The nose is sweet and creamy, with notes of cocoa. The flavor includes a chocolate and cocoa entry, with a finish that concludes with bittersweet chocolate and pepper.
This vodka can be enjoyed neat or in a cocktail, particularly a martini. This is certainly the most expensive vodka on our list, but it is worth the price!
- Unique production process
Luksusowa is another Polish vodka. In the recent disagreements in the EU over the proper definition of vodka, Polish producers were especially active. And that’s because they are committed to crafting excellent vodka using traditional materials and means. Luksusowa fits that description perfectly.
Unlike many other potato vodkas, Luksusowa is inexpensive, and yet still able to offer a good potato vodka profile. Triple distilled and charcoal filtered, Luksusowa is produced from strobrowa potatoes. The filtering process has produced a crystal clear appearance with no sediment. It offers a decent nose, with sweetness and some cocoa notes and the familiar robust smell that comes with most potato vodkas.
The taste has a bite to it, with a sweet and oily feel on the tongue, and some heat as it goes down. The mouth-feel is lush and viscous. Adding this to a martini will give your drink some serious heft, and it pairs well with the vermouth. This is a great potato vodka at a really, really great price.
- Outstanding price
Vikingfjord is produced in Norway, making it the second potato vodka from Scandinavia on our list. One of the unique elements that sets Vikingfjord apart is the water source used in making the vodka. It comes from the Jostedal Glacier in Arctic Norway. Glacial water is naturally purified as it makes its way through mountain rocks, and is thought to be better than mineral or spring water.
The nose on Vikingfjord doesn’t offer much, as it is neutral. The mouth-feel is good, but the finish is a bit rougher than other vodkas on our list, as some bitter flavors hang around after it goes down. This doesn’t have to be bad, but be prepared: You can also detect some of the bitterness in cocktails as well. This works well in fruity cocktails, however.
Vikingfjord offers a good potato vodka at a really good price. It comes in handsome packaging, and it’s made with water from a 5,000 year old glacier. What’s not to like?
- Excellent price
When I say Idaho, what comes to mind? Potatoes, naturally. So it should really be no surprise that we have 2 Idaho-based vodkas on our list. Zodiac is bottled in Rigby, ID and is produced using those famous russet potatoes that Idaho is known for. The water comes from the Snake River Aquifer, on which the distillery sits.
The nose on Zodiac is marked by notes of vanilla, lemon, and pepper. The palate is smooth with hints of vanilla and black pepper. The mouth-feel is full, as is typical of potato-based vodkas. The distillers use Canadian charcoal in the filtering process, leading to a smooth finish.
This is a good vodka for cocktails, and it comes in a really interesting bottle that will leave you contemplating the stars!
- Good price
Vesica is another Polish creation, which means it offers you great quality at a really good price. Vesica is triple distilled and comes packaged in a cool glass bottle featuring the vesica piscis design, after which the vodka is named. Supposedly the vesica piscis geometrical form also has associations with mystical knowledge — so there’s that.
The smell is initially of ethanol, which gives way to sweet scents of caramel and berry, as well as earthy potatoes. The mouth-feel is creamy with a warm finish that doesn’t linger for too long. The overall taste is sweet, with some bite.
This is a good vodka for mixing, as Vesica offers great viscosity and a plush feel that will round out your favorite martini. And who knows, maybe drinking Vesica will lead to a bit of mystical enlightenment.
- Short, warm finish
This is Magic Mike’s vodka. Born & Bred was developed by the Grand Teton distillery in Driggs, ID as part of a partnership with actor Channing Tatum. As the story goes, Tatum was looking for a vodka that would be versatile and American-based, and he found what he was looking for with the folks of Grand Teton.
Made with locally sourced Idaho potatoes, Born & Bred uses pure mountain water during production. The aroma offers fruit notes, including some banana, and the flavor includes a hint of pineapple. The finish is somewhat bitter and spicy.
The packaging keeps close to the iconography of Idaho, with the Grand Teton Mountains in the background and the mythical jackalope in the foreground. With its spicy and bitter flavors, this vodka is perfect in a dirty martini — which I think Magic Mike would appreciate.
- Good price
The folks at Woody Creek Distillers own their own farm. They are the only distiller in the United States to control every aspect of the process of production for their vodka. The farm was actually purchased so that Woody Creek could develop a strain of the stobrawa potato, which is grown primarily in Poland.
Control of the farm means that as soon as the potatoes come out of ground, they go into production. This guarantees that all the unique flavors and smells will be preserved in the production process. Woody Creek has been producing their vodkas for public consumption since 2014 using water from the Aspen area and a remarkable copper still built by Christian Carl Stills in Germany.
The nose is sweet, and the taste offers hints of sweet cream and vanilla. As with other potato vodkas, the mouth-feel is full-bodied, and the finish is quite smooth with only a bit of heat. This is a great vodka for sipping straight and would even stand up well in a vodka tonic!
- Hints of sweet cream
What does potato vodka taste like?
Even though one definition of vodka is that it should be “tasteless, odorless, and colorless,” vodka lovers know that different vodkas can have different aromas and complex flavor profiles. So what does a potato vodka taste like? Well, that depends.
Distilling and filtering methods can affect the overall quality and taste of any vodka. There are additives that can alter the taste as well. With that in mind, potato vodkas are often described as “old world” style vodkas, because they have a heavier feel in the mouth.
The viscosity, texture, and creamy feel that these vodkas are known for is often accompanied with a slightly earthier and more savory flavor, increasing the feeling that you are enjoying your drink at the Russian Tea House. Chilling almost any vodka will further bring out its flavor.
These vodkas can also have a harsher feel, which is one of the characteristics that those who prefer wheat or other grain-based vodkas will point to in their criticisms.
Because these vodkas do tend to be a bit more savory, they are a great candidate for a Bloody Mary, a dirty martini, or any other savory mixed drink.
Is potato vodka good?
This breadth of disagreement leaves the average consumer having to decide for themselves. For what it is worth, expert opinion in the English-speaking world tends to have a high regard for potato-based vodkas.
This is because these vodkas feel more substantial in terms of texture and viscosity, providing flavor and aromatic notes that are earthier and more savory. It obviously doesn’t hurt that, in the US at least, we have seen a huge upsurge in interest in the Bloody Mary.
There are numerous posh bars and restaurants that have taken to offering Bloody Mary brunches, and it is hard to beat a good savory, full-bodied potato vodka in a drink that features spice and salt. Some of the higher-end potato vodkas even offer flavors that accentuate and highlight the vegetal and earthy flavor of the Bloody Mary.
So, if you like savory cocktails, you are probably going to agree that the potato vodka is where it’s at!
What makes a potato vodka different?
Well, it’s the potatoes, silly.
Seriously though, there are some subtle and important differences between potato-based vodkas and vodkas produced using other ingredients. These differences can be broken down into the following:
- Production: Potato-based vodkas generally take longer to make and are more expensive. The higher expense has not only to do with the longer production process, but also with the fact that potatoes yield a lower amount of alcohol, and are more expensive to grow than grains.
What is the best potato vodka?
Picking the best potato vodka can involve a number of important factors, not the least your own personal tastes and needs. To help in the process, we have created this list of the best potato vodkas.
Our list is based on extensive research and includes consideration of the following factors:
- Mixability: Many savory cocktails gain that added umpf from a great potato vodka!
These and other factors led us to Polish-made Chopin as the best potato vodka.
So, before you plan your next Bloody Mary brunch with family and friends, be sure to consult our list to help you pick out the perfect potato vodka.
The best potato vodkas are meant to be enjoyed with good friends, good food, and great accessories. Here are some highly recommended products to enjoy alongside your vodka:
The best potato vodkas are meant to be enjoyed with good friends, good food, and great accessories. Here are some highly recommended products to enjoy alongside your vodka: