Guide to American Vodka

Although famous for producing the much loved bourbon or Tennessee whiskeys, America has become one of the most prolific producers and consumers of vodka globally since the spirit became popular in the country from the 1950s onwards.

Up until then, vodka had been a hard sell to the American audience, who viewed the spirit as a tasteless and therefore unenjoyable drinking experience, especially when consumed on its own.

This all changed with the launch of the now wildly successful Smirnoff brand, which initially marketed itself as a “white whiskey” that could be drunk without leaving the consumer with a tell-tale alcoholic breath, something that the American corporate world jumped on.

For more on the rise of the Smirnoff brand, read this article, which details in depth the growth of the world renowned vodka.

Following Smirnoff’s rise, other Vodka brands, domestic and foreign, have entered the American market to great success and the spirit has now evolved to become one of the best craft spirit categories in the country.

Although American craft distilleries like to experiment with various interesting organic bases for their vodkas, including sugar beets, apples, or honey, American distillers are perhaps most well known for using corn as their grain of choice in producing their vodkas.

Their fondness for corn is best expressed through the success of the Texan vodka brand Titos, which has risen over the last few years to become one of the most consumed vodka products in the country.

Corn imparts an oily and sweet texture and taste to vodka and this is present in many of the American vodkas that use this as their preferred organic base.

American vodka is the ideal place to look for those who like their vodka a bit thicker in texture and sweeter in taste, without having to rely on artificial flavours to do so, although the craft distillery scene in the country is abound with opportunity to try many unique vodka products that have a wide breadth of flavours.

Map of American Vodka Distilleries & Brands

American Vodka Distilleries Map

One of the biggest vodka brands in America and the world, Smirnoff, owned by the global liquor company Diageo, has been produced in the American state of Illinois, among other locations, for decades and is made from corn.

Known for its slightly oily mouthfeel, medicinal quality, and subtly spicy finish, Smirnoff is ideally used alongside a mixer or as a cocktail base rather than consumed on its own as it is generally considered too harsh for consumption alone.

Whilst Smirnoff might represent the biggest brand of vodka to come out of America, it by no means represents the only, with other more recent brands, such as Titos, Skyy, Popov, UV, and Hangar One ranking near the top of the list in terms of famous American vodkas.

In addition to their unflavoured vodka products, the American brands mentioned previously, in particular UV and Smirnoff, are famous for offering a number of colour and flavour variations in their range of products.

With additional flavoured products including cake, cherry, and even sriracha, UV offers one of the broadest and most unique selection of flavours, making it almost impossible to not find a new vodka to experiment with.

Besides these big name brands, there are also a multitude of truly unique tasting experiences to be found within the craft American vodka scene.

Some of the best craft vodka brands include Charbay Vodka, which uses real fruit in flavouring their products and less filtrations in order to produce authentic and richly flavoured vodkas, Square One Organic Vodka, which uses American rye in order to create a slightly crisp and bitey vodka, and 44° North Vodka, famous for using potatoes and also using natural flavours from native American flora during their production process to craft some of the cleanest and easy-drinking vodka products available.

In short, American distilleries, big and small, offer vodka products across all quality and pricing levels and are highly experimental in their use of organic bases and flavourings, making it possible to always find a new vodka to experience.

To discover some of the top ranked bottles of American vodka available, this article offers some excellent choices.

Pairing Food with American Vodka

Possessing such a diverse range of types and flavourings, American vodkas offers consumers a variety of products that can fit into anyone's taste preferences and preferred method of consumption.

Big name brands, such as Smirnoff, UV, Skyy, and Popov, all offer vodkas that should ideally be consumed as a cocktail base or paired with a favourite mixer for a party or catering event.

If consuming these products straight or over ice, it is recommended that you go with Smirnoff or Skyy, as these typically have a reputation for being the “better” bottom shelf products.

For an easy method of softening any abhorrent flavours it is advised that you freeze it before serving as placing vodka, or any spirit for that matter, in the freezer before serving increases the viscosity, or texture, of the resulting spirit and also reduces the effect of any particular flavour attributes of the vodka.

When looking for an American vodka that can easily be consumed neat or over ice, be sure to look into the craft distillery scene as there are a number of picks, including Titos, 44° North Vodka, and Charbay Vodka, which offer vodka products ideal for this type of drinking.

Pairing Food with American Vodka

There are a number of typical food pairing choices to look into when deciding which foods or dishes pair well with American vodka.

For unflavoured varieties, be sure to consider the grain used, the number of distillations, the number of times the spirit has been filtered, and the price, as these factors all have a bearing on which foods are best to consume with the product.

Corn or potato vodkas tend to match well with pickled vegetables and smoked meats or fish, whilst those that use wheat, rye, or barley can be paired best with fatty meat dishes.

If unsure of how the vodka is produced, because of its typically subtle flavour profile, it is advisable to pair your bottle with any of the above or most kinds of seafood dishes, especially if the vodka is served chilled, as the often citric or soft spice flavours present in vodka match with many seafood-based dishes.

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