When considering which vodka to choose from the thousands out there, particularly if you’re going to be drinking it neat, you should know what ingredients were used. As we’ve gone over before, vodka can be made from any agricultural product. Traditionally grains and potatoes are used. But there are vodkas on the market today made from grapes, whey and sugarcane, among other ingredients. Each ingredient will bring a different flavor to the party. And if you’re a fan of rye whiskey, you just might enjoy rye vodka as well.
Yes, you may have heard (perhaps from us?) that the standard definition for vodka describes the spirit “to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color”. But recently the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) removed this from the federal definition. It’s still defined as neutral, but it most definitely can have character, aroma, and taste.
So like rye whiskey, rye vodka is robust and has a dark, spicy bite to it. The mouthfeel is lean and dry. And although these characteristics are subtle, especially when compared to whiskey, you can still find the notes when drinking a dry Martini or if you’re enjoying on the rocks.
If you’re ready to do a taste test of your own, these are a few bottles you should add to your shopping list. Although many of these rye vodka selections are Polish vodkas, there are a couple of American picks on the list as well.
First introduced to the US in 1996 as a luxury vodka, Belvedere Vodka is distilled from 100% Polish Dankowski rye. It is distilled using a four-column still process. Belvedere uses water drawn from wells situated in the grounds of the distillery to bring it to proof and then charcoal filters the vodka prior to bottling. The brand’s name means “beautiful to see”.
Chopin is a family-owned distillery primarily known for its potato vodka. However, in 2011 the brand introduced Chopin Rye as the second extension in the portfolio. It is made from 100% golden rye grown in the Podlasie countryside in eastern Poland. Distilled in a copper column-still, this rye vodka is bottled at 40% ABV.
Potocki is made from 100% locally-sourced rye. Distilled via column distillation, the rye vodka is blended with distilled water to bring it to proof. No additives and no charcoal filtration are used in its production.
This vodka is made from 100% estate-grown Dankowski rye at the brand’s distillery near Kalisz, one of the oldest towns in Poland. After column-distillation it is twice charcoal-filtered—in fact, the charcoal is made with Polish birch. Bottled at 40% ABV, it’s a solid mixer and one of the best value vodkas on the market.
This vodka is made from Polish Dankowski rye using continuous column distillation. The rye vodka is named after the Polish King Jan III Sobieski who reigned from 1674 until his death in 1696. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.
Square One uses a four-column continuous distillation process with 100% certified organic American rye. Their water is sourced from the Snake River watershed of the Teton Mountain range. It is bottled at 40% ABV after filtration through a micron paper filter.
This rye-based vodka is made at KOVAL Distillery, a grain-to-bottle distillery located in Chicago. The brand sources the 100% organic rye from local farmers. In addition to being certified organic, it’s also certified Kosher as well.
Ready to grab a bottle of rye vodka?
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