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The Vodka Masters 2013 Results

For a category described by some as “dull,” our judges found a wealth of diversity, depth and quality in The Vodka Masters, writes Becky Paskin

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Nowhere is the marked improvement in the quality of vodka more obvious than in the increase in super-premium entries this year

If there’s one thing that’s clear from The Vodka Masters 2013, it’s that the quality of vodka has markedly improved. As we’ve been told a hundred times before, consumers are now more educated than ever, and it’s this education that’s driving a desire for quality.

Whether purchasing a vodka to mix at home with cola, to make a perfect Martini or to sip on the rocks, consumers are making more informed decisions and are not prepared to skimp on quality.

Nowhere was this more obvious than the remarkable increase in the number of super-premium entries this year, versus a drop for standard and premium.

“This demonstrates how the industry is leaning more towards producing quality vodka,” noted Daisy Jones, associate publisher of The Spirits Business and organiser of The Spirits Masters. “Consumers are obviously choosing vodkas for their taste rather than their price point and that shows through in The Vodka Masters this year.”

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France Despert and Herchelle Perez Terrado are old hats at judging The Vodka Masters

The same rang true for the flavoured vodkas entered this year, which regardless of whether you’re a fan, were all deemed to be of super-premium quality.

An overall record number of entries for The Vodka Masters 2013 meant our panel of judges were in for a long day. Split into two teams to tackle half the competition each were France Despert, head of ethanol at Cargill, Kris Olivier, bartender at One Canada Square, and sub-team chair Herchelle Perez Terrado, spirits buyer for Waitrose. Joining myself as the second chair was Imants Zusmanis, bar manager at Kensington Place.

We kicked off the day’s proceedings with the country of origin categories, which swayed obviously in vodka’s homeland’s favour. The awarding of two Masters, two Golds and a Silver medal to the Russian line-up is a reflection of exactly why vodka has become an iconic product. The variety afforded by the Russian vodkas was superb, with some being extremely smooth and creamy, and others offering spicy notes.

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Becky Paskin and Kris Olivier put their noses to the test

While there was nothing but praise for the Russian vodkas, Terrado expressed her disappointment at the quality and numbers of those from Eastern Europe. “Knowing Eastern Europe offers such diversity of base grains it was interesting not to experience this variance in the flight,” she professed. “There weren’t a lot of entries; I missed the typical character of the wodkas.

These entries are starting to look like Western European vodkas. However, the non-flavoured ones were neat, clear and crisp with a nicely balanced palate and agreeable finish.” When it came to the rest of Europe, our judges expressed mixed feelings. Imants and myself were confused by the overbearing sweetness of a couple of entries, while Terrado was “left looking” for any distinctive regional quality from the Scandinavian bag.

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The judges from left to right: Becky Paskin, The Spirits Business; Imants Zusmanis, Kensington Place, Frances Despert, Cargill, Kris Olivier, One Canada Square; Herchelle Perez Terrado, Waitrose

As for the Rest of World flight, the vodkas entered were an extremely varied bunch, with an enormous difference between each. One or two really impressed as good examples of what a vodka should be, especially from regions outside the established vodka-producing areas that have hundreds of years of distilling heritage. With that in mind, we were very impressed and awarded two Golds.

While there were only a small number of entries in the Standard category, the flight was described by Despert as “anything but dull, which is what you might expect from this category”. Two Silver medals and a Gold were awarded before judges moved onto the slightly larger Premium round.

Click through the following pages to see the results of The Vodka Masters 2013.

RUSSIA
Company Product Name Medal
Marussia Beverages UK Ltd Mamont Vodka Master
Tigoda USA ALIMOV Master
Tovaritch & Spirits Int Tovaritch! Premium Russian Vodka Gold
Soyuzprodexport Legend of Kremlin Gold
Ladoga Group ZVER Silver

 

EASTERN EUROPE
Company Product Name Medal
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Vodka Gold
Universal Brand Ltd Dannoff Vodka Gold
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Pink Grapefruit Silver

 

EUROPE
Company Product Name Medal
La Martiniquaise Poliakov Gold
Purity Vodka AB Purity Vodka Gold
Ladoga Group ZVER Silver
Studer & Co Ac St.Moritz Luxury Edition Studer Swiss Premium Vodka Silver

 

SCANDINAVIA
Company Product Name Medal
Purity Vodka AB Purity Vodka Gold
Meedco Services Cyprus CCCP Silver

 

REST OF WORLD
Company Product Name Medal
Calibre Brands Snow Queen Vodka Gold
Hanson Spirits, LLC Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka Original Gold

 

STANDARD
Company Product Name Medal
Blue Sky Brand Co Cruz Vintage Black Gold
Zwack Unicum Kalinka Vodka Silver

 

PREMIUM
Company Product Name Medal
La Martiniquaise Poliakov Master
SPI Group Stolichnaya Premium Vodka Gold
Tovaritch & Spirits Int Tovaritch! Premium Russian Vodka Gold
Bacardi Global Brands Eristoff Gold
Studer & Co Ac Studer Swiss Classic Vodka Gold
Universal Brand Ltd Dannoff Vodka Gold
Tigoda USA ALIMOV Gold
Fraternity Spirits Boker Vodka Gold
Spirit of The Lakes Ltd Standing Stones Vodka Silver
Meedco Services Cyprus CCCP Silver
Ladoga Group ZVER Silver

 

SUPER PREMIUM
Company Product Name Medal
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Unfiltered Master
Calibre Brands Snow Queen Vodka Master
Rok Drinks Ltd / Oval Global Sales Oval Vodka Master
Studer & Co Ac St.Moritz Luxury Edition Master
Purity Vodka AB Purity Vodka Master
Soyuzprodexport Legend of Kremlin Master
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Vodka Gold
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Citrus Gold
G & J Distillers Quintesentially Vodka Gold
The Rebel Spirits Group, LLC ZIM’S Eighty On Gold
Globefill Inc Crystal Head Vodka Gold
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Pink Grapefruit Silver
PUR Vodka PUR Ultra Premium Vodka Silver

 

ORGANIC
Company Product Name Medal
Tovaritch & Spirits Int Tovaritch! Premium Russian Vodka Gold
Purity Vodka AB Purity Vodka Gold
Hanson Spirits, LLC Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka Original Gold
Soyuzprodexport Legend of Kremlin Gold
Saimaa Beverages OY Saimaa Vodka Silver
Calibre Brands Snow Queen Vodka Silver

 

MICRO DISTILLERY
Company Product Name Medal
PUR Vodka PUR Ultra Premium Vodka Master
Purity Vodka AB WPurity Vodka Master
Hanson Spirits, LLC Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka Original Silver

 

FLAVOURED VODKA
Company Product Name Medal
Semper Idem Underberg Grasovka Premium Vodka Master
SPI Group Stolichnaya Salted Karamel Master
SPI Group Stolichnaya Choco Kokonut Master
Saimaa Beverages OY Saimaa Vodka Black Currant Gold
Saimaa Beverages OY Saimaa Vodka Nordic Berries Gold
SPI Group Stolichnaya Chocolate Razberi Gold
Virtuos Spirits AB Virtous Vodka Chili Gold
Zwack Unicum Kalinka Citrus Vodka Silver
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Lemon Tea Silver
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Pink Grapefruit Silver

 

SMOOTH
Company Product Name Medal
Purity Vodka AB Purity Vodka Master
The Rebel Spirits Group, LLC ZIM’S Eighty One Master
The Rebel Spirits Group, LLC ZIM’S Fifity Nine Master
SPI Group Stolichnaya Premium Vodka Gold
Tovaritch & Spirits Int Tovaritch! Premium Russian Vodka Gold
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Vodka Gold
Calibre Brands Snow Queen Vodka Gold
Luding Trade (Prevelon RUS) Kremlin Award Grand Premium Vodka Gold
Fraternity Spirits Boker Vodka Gold
Universal Brand Ltd Dannoff Vodka Gold
Tigoda USA ALIMOV Gold
Vine Distribution Services UK Ltd SMOOTH VODKA Gold
Soyuzprodexport Legend of Kremlin Silver
Moet Hennessy Belvedere Unfiltered Silver
Hanson Spirits, LLC Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka Original Silver

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