The November 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is out, and it includes (among other things) my review column on Cherry and Berry Flavored Vodkas. You can pick up a copy at the newsstand, or view it in digital format on Zinio (if it’s not there now, it will be soon). Here’s what I learned:
1. Flavored vodka gets no respect. Cocktail geek buddies groaned when I told them I was doing this category. They were mostly but not entirely right. Yes, there was lots of mediocrity in the cherry/berry category (unlike citrus-flavored vodkas, which overall were quite good), and on average, the scores were relatively low. But — as I suspected — there were gems worth finding.
2. A wide range of good berry/cherry vodkas exist; they’re not necessarily uniform. The best of the bunch included a full-bodied, deep red, nearly cordial-like vodka; a blush-pink, floral-berry vodka; and a clear-as-a-bell spirit with an engagingly juicy raspberry character.
3. There are more bad than good vodkas in this flavor category. A surplus of crummy vodkas surely arrived, such as the Windex-blue contender that arrived in a jug-sized plastic container and tasted like mouthwash. Another memorable specimen was a vodka whose main claim to fame was that it turns your tongue black.
4. It must be difficult to accurately replicate cherry and berry vodka flavors, since so few get it right.
5. The aroma is often the best part of flavored vodkas. Bartenders already know this.
If you have a favorite cherry/berry flavored vodka to share, I’d love to hear about it. Usually I’d rather showcase what’s awesome vs. bashing the not-so-good, but I’ll make an exception this time: vodka horror stories are welcome too!