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The Vodka Masters 2023 results

Despite ups and downs, vodka is still one of the world’s most popular spirits. As our judges discovered in The Vodka Masters 2023, the reason for this is quality liquid made with care and passion.

This year’s medal winners demonstrated care and passion for crafting top-quality vodka

Vodka remains to be the leading spirit in sales and volume in the US, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the US. The vodka category in the US generated US$7.2 billion in revenue in 2022, down by 0.3% year on year, while its volume fell by 1.5% to 76.9 million nine-litre cases.

While sales appear to be stagnant for the category in the US, producers continue to invest in new products, capitalising on trends such as sustainability, low-ABV and provenance. Even ready-to-drink brands, such as White Claw and Truly, have made moves into the vodka category as demand for hard seltzers falters.

The future is also bright for products at the higher end of the price bracket. The IWSR said the premium-and-above vodka segment has seen more positive growth, expanding in volume consumption by 6% in 2022, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 3% in volume from 2022 to 2027.

This year’s Vodka Masters headed to the Hippodrome in London, where three panels of judges were tasked with dishing out medals to worthy entrants.

The first panel was formed of: chair David T Smith, spirits consultant, writer and co‐founder of the Craft Distilling Expo; Claire Filer of The Filer Files; Anne Jones, drinks expert at Waitrose; and Marie Cheong-Thong of The Larder at 36.

The second panel was chaired by Bryan Rodriguez-Curtis, wine and spirits buyer at Harvey Nichols, who was joined by: Antony Moss MW; Evan Prousaefs, bar manager at Sexy Fish in London; and Tatti Sukamongkol, wine and spirits specialist, and contributor to Malt Review.

Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business, and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions (GMSC) led the third panel, which included: Matt Chambers, spirits writer and co-founder of the Whisky For Everyone blog; Joyce Chou, Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s translation project manager; Zaloren Gonzalez Fontes, assistant manager of Hometipple; and Herchelle Perez Terrado, founder of Drinks Partnership.

The first round, Standard (priced up to £10), saw Count Pushkin Premium Imperial Vodka win a Gold, praised for its “pleasant lemon, touch of tonka on the nose and dried vanilla”.

Moving up the price bracket to vodkas priced between £11 and £20 was where the first Master of the day was discovered. Stock Prestige Vodka took home the top award, enjoyed by Jones for its “lovely smooth texture, lightly floral, plenty of character and peppery spice but very soft and approachable – great value”.

Four Golds and a Silver were also awarded. Among the Gold medallists were Cruz Vodka Vintage Black, with its “bright nose and lovely viscosity”, and Absolut Original, with its “vanilla ice cream on the nose, good texture and a hint of liquorice”.

Filer said of the Premium flight: “A flight with impressive quality, considering the value of the products; some still have the distinctive ‘cheap vodka’ flavour and texture, but some present a balance and complexity that is impressive for the price point.”

Two Masters were found in the following flight, Super Premium, which gave medals to vodkas priced between £21 and £30. Master-winning Discarded Grape Skin Vodka was praised by Smith for its “floral bubblegum notes with tart tannic grape notes, lots of almond and cherry”.

Also taking home the top award was 8 Mile Vodka, which Perez Terrado said offered: “Clean, grapefruit aroma, great body and mouthfeel around the tongue, followed by delightful peppery heat balance with light bitter astringency.” Nine Golds were also discovered, including one for Pravda, which offered “floral grain notes, an absolutely superb texture, bit of pepperiness, but nice and full with crisp grain notes”.

Other Golds went to Koskenkorva Vodka Climate Action, enjoyed for its “delicate sweetness and hints of white chocolate and earthy spice”, the “sweet and earthy” Jean Marc XO Vodka, and the “clean and crisp” White Claw Spirits Triple Wave Filtered Premium Vodka.

Smith called the flight a “step up in interest and complexity from the previous category, with a more developed character from some of these products”.

Shaken, stirred or sipped neat, there are plenty of quality options to discover in this year’s results

The highest price bracket, Ultra Premium, was the most successful flight of the contest with five Master medals being awarded.

The first went to Desi Daru Mango Vodka, which Rodriguez-Curtis enjoyed for its “fleshy and vibrant” nose. He said: “The palate is smooth, pleasant, good level of mango flavour and good level of enjoyability. The mango has a brilliant freshness. Chilled out of the fridge or freezer, this vodka would be brilliant to enjoy.”

Louers Vodka walked away with the top award, described by Prousaefs as having: “Lemon peel and freshly cut grass on the nose. Excellent mouthfeel with very long aftertaste and a hint of bitterness at the end.”

Banks and Bloom Ice Vodka impressed Filer, who said: “Soft nose with some creamy vanilla, lemon and grain. A smooth and oily mouthfeel with a saline element, and a balanced profile of peppery grain with sweet citrus, and no disruptive heat.”

Absolut Elyx also took home a Master, impressing Rodriguez-Curtis with its “clean nose, lemon and ripe stone fruit. The palate has a pleasant mouthfeel, good texture and well balanced alcohol”.

Completing the Master line-up was Ewe Whey Vodka, with Filer calling its “rich, nutty, malty nose, like a sweet beer ferment. On the palate – similar notes, nutty malt, some caramel sweetness, hints of milk chocolate, some balancing citrus and pepper. Warming texture.”

Smooth palate

Eleven Golds were given out, including one to Neft Vodka, enjoyed for its “smooth palate with a nice body and texture”, and Sapling Climate Positive Vodka, with its nose of “fresh and toasted grain” and “nutty sweetness” on the palate.

Other Gold winners included: Into the Wild Vodka, with its “clean and neutral nose” and “spice and pepper”; “creamy and sippable” Tanzanite Vodka with its “touch of crushed pine needle freshness and lime zest”; “soft and floral” Riverland Rose Vodka; and Incognito Vodka, with its “creamy sweetness and tangy citrus” on the palate.

Moving on to vodkas with different bases, and a flight of Grain Blend bottlings were sampled next. Golds were given to Meili Vodka, with its “vanilla and white chocolate” aroma, and Short Story Grain Vodka, described as “tangy and vibrant” with “lots of lime zest and a hint of fresh basil”. Silver medal winner Pur Sang completed the flight.

A single entry in the potato-based vodka round saw Nine Tines take a Gold, enjoyed for its “sweetness on the nose and palate, and nice balance – would be great sipped neat, or in a Martini”. Pulse Vodka won a Silver in the following flight, Vodka Base – Corn. Meanwhile, Pod Pea Vodka was the worthy recipient of a Master medal in the Vodka Base – Pea round. Chou particularly enjoyed this expression: “Expressive green, grassy, leafy, lactic notes on the nose. Very complex, with sweet caramel on the palate.”

The Smooth flight saw Desi Daru Mango Vodka take home another Master, enjoyed for its “lovely juicy mango on the nose” and “warming and smooth texture without excessive heat”.

The “bright and elegant” Muff Vodka and Altumura Vodka with its “luxurious texture” took home Gold medals.

Desi Daru Mango Vodka secured its third Master medal, in the Microdistillery flight. Chambers said: “Tonnes of fresh mango on nose, fresh pulp with bitterness from skin, soft and sweet on the palate, with a very complex flavour profile, lots of fresh mango – this is great to experience, compared with something more confected. It’s juicy and delicious, with a delicate peppery note underneath.”

Two Silvers were also awarded in the flight.

Vodka Masters 2022
Master medallists were aplenty in The Vodka Masters 2023

Meanwhile, a trio of Master medals were found in the Organic flight. The first went to Pluto Vodka, described by Rodriguez-Curtis as being “smooth, very well done, rounded, creamy and enjoyable. It would work in a killer Martini”.

Prousaefs was particularly enamoured of Summum Single Estate Vodka: “Very smooth, crisp and light on the nose and palate. Super easy going and easy to drink, with an almost excellent mouthfeel and lasting finish.”

Nykur Super Premium Organic Vodka completed the Master streak. Rodriguez-Curtis said: “The palate is fantastic, the alcohol is perfectly integrated, balanced well and the texture rounded. The slightly higher alcohol adds to the texture. It feels grown-up and premium, like a vodka you want to enjoy in a Martini.”

A Gold was given to Grainger’s Deluxe Organic Vodka, and a Silver was awarded to Koskenkorva Vodka Organic.

A hat-trick of Golds was discovered in the Europe fight, including one to Ostoya Vodka, described as “clean, elegant, with green grass and a touch of spice”. Neft and Altamura Vodka also secured Golds.

The next flight, Scandinavia, saw Anora Group’s Koskenkorva Vodka Original win a Silver medal.

Eastern Europe saw Dima’s Vodka from Ukraine grab a Gold, praised for its “lemon and green apple on the nose” and “nutty and savoury mouthfeel”. A Silver went to Flirt Vodka from Bulgaria.

The Rest of the World round awarded two Golds and two Silver medals. Gold winner Meili Vodka was described as “comforting and rich”, with “lemon rind, cacao nibs and a hint of dried vanilla” on the nose. Fellow Gold medallist The Community Spirit Vodka offered a “crisp and clean nose” and a “long and lingering finish”.

The largest flight of the competition, Flavoured/Infused Vodka, saw Desi Daru Mango Vodka come out on top. Jones said that it offered: “Lovely natural mango aromas and more pulpy on the palate with a hint of tannic structure. Smooth and well-integrated alcohol.”

Six Golds and 13 Silvers were also awarded. Koskenkorva won three Golds for its 7 Botanicals, Lemon Lime Yarrow, and Sauna Barrel expressions.

Gold winner Maple Vodka was lauded for its “maple syrup and caramel on the nose” and “sweet and syrupy palate”. Other Gold medallists included Absolut Peppar, with its “fresh, savoury and pepper aroma”, and Sapling Zero Waste Raspberry + Hibiscus Vodka, with flavours of raspberry and a “hint of tropical, late peppery spice”.

Filer offered some insight into flavoured vodkas: “Some wild variation in quality in this round, with some very good examples of flavoured vodkas, and, sadly, some poorly balanced and artificial-tasting examples. More care could be taken in production in this category.”

Chou noted: “I can see some very expressive combinations of flavours, and some of them did very well in bringing different flavour profiles. The fruity ones were a little bit watered down, and too fake. But the more herbal, savoury ones did very well. There were expressive characters.”

Three Silvers were given out in the penultimate flight, Flavoured/Infused Vodka-Based Spirit Drink, including two for White Claw Spirits Co.

The final flight of the day, Vodka Liqueur, saw a Gold go to Edwards 1902 x Bottlegreen Elderflower Liqueur. It was praised for its “light elderflower notes” and “good acidity”.

But the tasting didn’t end there, as judges were tasked with choosing the best liquid of the day.

A retaste of the highest scorers saw Desi Daru Mango Vodka selected as this year’s Vodka Taste Master.

As evidenced by our Taste Master winner, perhaps a renewed focus on flavours from vodka producers will help to drive growth of the category.

Company Product Medal
Heineken Beverages Count Pushkin Premium Imperial Vodka Gold
Campari Group Skyy Vodka Silver
Anora Group Saaremaa Vodka Silver


Company Product Medal
Stock Polska Stock Prestige Vodka Master
Heineken Beverages Cruz Vodka Vintage Black Gold
Boutinot Spirits Copper Canvas Vodka Gold
Thirsty Group Southern Spirits Co Vodka Gold
The Absolut Company Absolut Original Gold
Wyborowa Wyborowa Vodka Silver


Super Premium 
Company Product Medal
Discarded Spirits Co Discarded Grape Skin Vodka Master
4 Detroiters Liquor 8 Mile Vodka Master
Pravda Spirits International Pravda Gold
Pravda Spirits International Pravda Bio Gold
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Original Gold
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Climate Action Gold
Stock Polska Amundsen Vodka Gold
Campari Group Jean Marc XO Vodka Gold
23rd Street Distillery Australian Vodka Gold
White Claw Spirits Co White Claw Spirits Triple Wave Filtered Premium Vodka Gold
Meili Holding Meili Vodka Gold
SJTPV Tasmanian Pure Vodka Silver
Pravda Spirits International Pravda Passover Silver
Altamura Distilleries Altamura Vodka Silver


Ultra Premium 
Company Product Medal
Desi Daru Desi Daru Mango Vodka Master & Taste Master
Louers Louers Vodka Master
Banks and Bloom Banks and Bloom Ice Vodka Master
The Absolut Company Absolut Elyx Master
Ewenique Spirits Ewe Whey Vodka Master
Collaboration Spirits Nine Tines Gold
Neft Brands Neft Gold
Alexandrion Saber Distilleries 1789 Antarktys Vodka Gold
La Société Libanaise des Boissons Spiritueuses Val Gold
Sapling Spirits Sapling Climate Positive Vodka Gold
Deerness Distillery Into the Wild Vodka Gold
23rd Street Distillery Riverland Rose Vodka Gold
Lanty Slee Liquor Co Fell Dew 19th Century Vodka Gold
Tanzanite Spirits Tanzanite Vodka Gold
Luchino International Luchino Vodka Gold
Incognito Spirit Company Incognito Vodka Gold
Pur Sang Vodka Pur Sang Silver
Royal Mash Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020 Silver
Griffiths Brothers Distillery GB Vodka Silver


Vodka Base – Grain Blend
Company Product Medal
Meili Holding Meili Vodka Gold
Third Eye Distillery Short Story Grain Vodka Gold
Pur Sang Vodka Pur Sang Silver


Vodka Base – Potato/Sweet Potato
Company Product Medal
Collaboration Spirits Nine Tines Gold


Vodka Base – Corn
Company Product Medal
Nocturne Brands Pulse Vodka Silver


Vodka Base – Pea
Company Product Medal
Ten Locks Drinks Pod Pea Vodka Master


Company Product Medal
Desi Daru Desi Daru Mango Vodka Master & Taste Master
The Muff Liquor Company Muff Vodka Gold
Altamura Distilleries Altamura Vodka Gold
Collaboration Spirits Nine Tines Silver


Company Product Medal
Desi Daru Desi Daru Mango Vodka Master & Taste Master
Vino Cellars Elysium Vodka Silver
Meili Holding Meili Vodka Silver


Company Product Medal
Pluto Spirits Pluto Vodka Master
A de Fussigny Summum Single Estate Vodka Master
Nykur Spirits Nykur Super Premium Organic Vodka Master
MS Walker Brands Grainger’s Deluxe Organic Vodka Gold
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Organic Silver


Company Product Medal
Neft Brands Neft Gold
Wyborowa Ostoya Vodka Gold
Altamura Distilleries Altamura Vodka Gold


Company Product Medal
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Original Silver


Eastern Europe
Company Product Medal
Dima’s Vodka Dima’s Vodka Gold
VP Brands International Flirt Vodka Silver


Rest of the World
Company Product Medal
Meili Holding Meili Vodka Gold
The Community Spirit The Community Spirit Vodka Gold
No8 Distillery No8 Bluestone Vodka Silver
Pur Sang Vodka Pur Sang Silver


Flavoured/Infused Vodka
Company Product Medal
Desi Daru Desi Daru Mango Vodka Master & Taste Master
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka 7 Botanicals Gold
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Lemon Lime Yarrow Gold
Anora Group Koskenkorva Sauna Barrel Gold
The Absolut Company Absolut Peppar Gold
Sapling Spirits Sapling Zero Waste Raspberry + Hibiscus Vodka Gold
Cherry River Distillery & Co Maple Vodka Gold
Karu Distillery Morita Chipotle Vodka Silver
Intercontinental Brands Rozél Vodka Silver
Anora Group Saaremaa Vodka Rabarber Silver
Anora Group Saaremaa Vodka Jöhvikas Silver
Anora Group Saaremaa Vodka Must Sôstar Silver
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Lingonberry Spruce Silver
Anora Group Saaremaa Vodka Apelsin Silver
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Raspberry Pine Silver
Anora Group Koskenkorva Vodka Lime Silver
The Absolut Company Absolut Wild Berri Silver
The Absolut Company Absolut Vanilia Silver
The Absolut Company Absolut Citron Silver
Wildjac Blackberry Vodka Silver


Flavoured/Infused Vodka-Based Spirit Drink
Company Product Medal
White Claw Spirits Co White Claw Spirits Triple Wave Flavored Vodka Pineapple Filtered Silver
White Claw Spirits Co White Claw Spirits Triple Wave Filtered Flavored Vodka Black Cherry Silver
Scream Retail Thunder Toffee Vodka Silver


Vodka Liqueur
Company Product Medal
The Edwards Potato Vodka Company Edwards 1902 x Bottlegreen Elderflower Lique Gold

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