Vodka is the most popular liquor in the United States – and has been since 1970. According to Forbes, 78.1 million cases of vodka were sold in the U.S. in 2021 – edging out all categories of whiskey, which sold 76 million. (These are the best whiskeys under $50.)
In the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, state officials from New Hampshire, Virginia, and Ohio, among other regulators and bar and restaurant owners, called for a boycott of Russian vodka, and the removal of Russian-made spirits from liquor store shelves. The gesture may be mostly symbolic, however, as many Russian-branded vodkas are no longer produced in Russia. Smirnoff – the leading spirits brand in America – has been made in the U.S. since the 1930s; Stolichnaya may be owned by a Russian oligarch but it’s produced in Latvia. In fact, vodka actually made in Russia accounted for only 1.3% of vodka imports in 2021.
Vodka production in the United States, on the other hand, has been increasing as the craft distillers market has grown in recent years. Small batch and craft vodkas have gained popularity lately, epitomized by the rise of Tito’s Handmade out of Texas, which became the top-selling spirit in the U.S. in 2020. (Here are the world’s 15 most valuable alcohol companies.)
24/7 Tempo has compiled the 25 best vodkas for 2022 by reviewing the results of the 2021 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, a weeks-long multi-part event covering a wide range of spirits, judged by panels including spirits writers, bartenders, consultants, and other experts in the field.
Our list includes all the unflavored vodkas rated between 91 and 97 points (the highest score given in the 2021 tasting). Within each scoring group, vodkas were ranked according to price, with the less expensive ones placing higher. In two cases, there were two-way ties, noted as such. Prices were suggested retail prices for a 750 ml bottle as of mid-2021, and may have changed since the judging and may vary from state to state and in some cases from store to store.
Of the top 25 vodkas, only one is made in Russia, while two are made in Ukraine. Nine – including the top three choices – are made in the United States. The overall winner is Hanger 1, which is distilled in Alameda, California, from Viognier wine grapes and American wheat. The second choice is Boyd & Blair, a small batch vodka made completely from Pennsylvania-grown potatoes. The third best vodka is from Wheatley, which is distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery (famous for its high end bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle) from red winter wheat.
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