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smiling man pouring grey goose vodka

21 Best Vodka Brands: Cheapest, Strongest, Most Expensive

This article includes advice and insights from spirits expert and masterclass host for Cocktail Porter & The Whiskey Mill, Malcolm Gandar.

The options are endless when it comes to Vodka brands. Whether you want something cheap, strong, or expensive, there is the perfect brand for every occasion. Vodka has a long and colourful history and can be enjoyed as a standalone drink or with a mixer. We took a deep dive into the world of vodka to discover vodka’s birthing process, the different types and even decided on the best vodka brands on the shelves right now.

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The Rise and Rise of Vodka

While the foundations are simple, vodka is a spirit that has continued to grow in popularity over many years. In the 21st century, the implementation of new brands the experimentation of batch brewers are pushing the industry in new and exciting ways, similar to how gin has taken off.

“With such a massive boom in craft Gin over the past five or so years, Vodka has definitely found itself rising in popularity. The fun thing about Vodka is its ability to be malleable and adapt to different flavours,” Malcolm Gandar, masterclass host and brand ambassador for Cocktail Porter & The Whiskey Mill tells Man of Many. “Due to this, there has been some new innovations in barrel aging and infusing vodkas which has really seen some amazing products being produced.”

chopin potato vodka and potatoes in the basket

What is Vodka Made From?

Many people think vodka is made from potatoes, and it can be, but more specifically, vodka is made from any source of starch or sugar, plus yeast. Because starch is just a long chain of sugars, it can be broken down into sugar with added enzymes. The primary sources of starch used to make vodka include wheat, rye, corn, rice, potatoes, barley and soy. Common sources of sugar include sugar cane, molasses, sugar beets, honey, maple syrup and fruits such as grapes and apples.

Whisky expert Gandar revealed that as a result, vodka can be made from any source of converted starch or any source of sugar. With access easier than ever, base spirits are improving, giving way for more premium releases.

“The quality of the base spirit is also better than ever, with many companies deciding to bring out some top quality vodkas as part of their ranges,

How is Vodka Made?

How on earth do these ingredients combine to make something that’s so delicious? The actual process is pretty simple. The starch, of which rye is the most common, is mixed with water and heated. Yeast is then added to this pulp, which allows fermentation and converts the sugars into alcohol. The next stage is distillation. To test whether the liquid has been distilled to the desired extent and has alcohol present, you put a light to it, and if it doesn’t light up, the substance is too weak and needs to be distilled again. The substance returns to its liquid form when cooled, then proceeds to be filtered. The final alcohol content of the liquid is 40 per cent.

vodka distillery

Types of Vodka?

Like all spirits, there are a number of different types of vodka. Each has its own pros and cons, but for the most part, are subject to taste. Here are four different types of vodka.

Plain

Plain vodka is the type of vodka with the highest alcohol content. Plain vodka is the perfect base drink for other cocktails, with little to no taste when enjoyed on its own. However, the taste of plain vodka varies based on what type of alcohol was used to make it. If the quality and smoothness of the vodka are up to par, plain vodka can be the perfect standalone drink without any mixers needed.

Infused

Some types of vodka come infused, usually with fruit or certain types of herbs. Producing an infused vodka takes a long time, but the infused flavours make the final product rich in flavour and extremely delicious. The fruit blend is infused with the alcohol for up to three weeks, and the rind then filtered. The longer the ageing process after the fruit has been fermented, the better the flavour, just like a fine wine.

Flavoured

Flavoured vodka has increased in popularity over recent years, as they are easy to drink and don’t require much effort as you don’t have to use mixers. Flavours are also highly varied, which means you can mix it up. You may think flavoured vodka sounds the same as infused vodka; however, they are very different. Flavoured vodka is made similar to plain vodka, with added sugar which increases to around 40% during the fermentation process. Any flavours can be fermented within the vodka.

Grain

Grain vodka starts from 96% concentrated alcohol of pure rye, which is mixed with water. The taste is therefore quite potent. Usually, grain vodkas are sold in countries with long winter seasons. You can flavour grain vodka without taking away from the rich alcohol content by adding lemon or lime skins, for example.

Best Vodka Brands

With your spirits knowledge now up to scratch, it’s time to delve into the wide world of vodka. Here is a list of the best vodka brands in the world.

grey goose vodka

1. Grey Goose

Grey Goose is one of the most classic vodka brands and one of the most popular. Grey Goose vodka is made with French winter wheat and water from the Cognac region. The classic finish is ripe with hints of spice and is perfect on its own or with a mixer of your choice. The French vodka was one of the first premium vodkas to hit the market.

Manufacturer: Bacardi
Country of origin: France
Alcohol by volume: 40%
Proof: 80 proof

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

absolut vodka

2. Absolut

Since 1879 and all the way from Sweden comes this leading producer in vodka brands from across the world. Winter wheat is used in the mash and distilled with a unique method evident in the vodkas. Absolut vodka is known for its various flavoured vodkas, like passionfruit and watermelon. This is the ideal choice if you want classic vodka quality but feel like a new and exciting flavour.

Manufacturer: The Absolut Company AB (Pernod Ricard)
Country of origin: Åhus, Sweden
Introduced: 1879
Proof: 80 – 100

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

stolichnaya vodka

3. Stolichnaya

A classic vodka with a twist, Stolichnaya is one of the more unique vodka brands. This brand is an alpha spirit distilled three times and then filtered through birch charcoal, quartz sands and blended with pure water. This intricate process makes the rich vodka flavours shine through, meaning this brand is a great standalone drink for you to enjoy.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Proof (US): 80
Manufacturer: FKP Soyuzplodoimport; SPI Group in Riga, Latvia;
Distributor: Soyuzplodoimport; SPI Group
Introduced: 1901

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

svedka vodka

4. Svedka

If you’re new to vodka, perhaps Svedka is an excellent place to start. The vodka brand produces a range of flavours that are colourful, fruity and fun. Think Cherry limeade, Mango Pineapple and Citron. The brand stocks a combination of flavoured and infused, but they sell classic unflavoured vodka too. Our favourite is the Svedka Rose, a delicious blend of wine and vodka.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Proof (US): 80
Owned by: Constellation Brands
Country of Origin: Sweden

Buy it here (AUS)

ketel one vodka

5. Ketel One

If you can taste the years of vodka distilling and knowledge of the craft, Ketel One is the vodka for you. The brand has developed over 300 years of Dutch family distilling of wheat vodka. So many years of experience give the vodka a crisp and sophisticated taste and flavour, with a hint of sweet citrus. We recommended this vodka as the perfect accompaniment to go with your martini.

Proof (US): 80
Manufacturer: Nolet Distillery
Introduced: 1983
Variants: Regular, Citron, Oranje

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

belvedere vodka

6. Belvedere

Belvedere is a premium Polish vodka that has long been a crowd favourite across the globe. The vodka is crafted from Dankowskie Gold rye and is distilled four times to create an extremely smooth finish. The traditional Polish methods of making vodka shine through in the premium ingredients and sophisticated finish of this iconic vodka brand.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Manufacturer: Polmos Żyrardów
Proof (US): 80
Introduced: 1993

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

stillhouse classic vodka

7. Stillhouse Classic Vodka

New kid on the block, Stillhouse Classic Vodka, is making its mark in the vodka world. Known for its whiskey, the brand has released a classic vodka. Just like its one-of-a-kind stainless steel can, the brand sets itself apart with an all-natural and gluten-free vodka distilled from 100% estate-grown corn and limestone water. If you’re in the mood for something fresh and a little bit different, Stillhouse won’t let you down.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Country of origin: USA
Proof (US): 80

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

beluga vodka

8. Beluga

If you have a soft spot for Russian vodka, Beluga is one of the world’s most famous premium Russian vodka brands. Beluga comes from a distillery in the heart of Siberia and utilises the region’s natural honey, vanilla and oatmeal to infuse in the vodka. The finished product is a unique, elegant blend with a deeply rich taste that transcends other vodkas.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Country of origin: Russia
Proof (US): 80

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

russian standard vodka

9. Russian Standard

Russian Standard uses the finest Russian wheat grains to produce one of the best vodka brands on the market. The vodka is distilled with pure glacial waters from Lake Lodga. The two components come together beautifully at the distillery in St Petersburg to create one of the purest-tasting spirits you can get your hands on.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Proof (US): 80
Introduced: 1998 by Roustam Tariko

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

hangar 1 vodka

10. Hangar 1

One of the few American brands you will find on the list, Hangar 1 gives the nation sublime representation. All the way from Alameda, California, the brand centres on small-batch production using pot-distilled viognier grapes and column distilled American wheat. The finished product exudes floral and honeysuckle notes, providing an exotic edge to the traditional vodka flavour.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Distributor: Proximo Spirits
Proof (US): 80
Manufacturer: Proximo Spirits

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

kastra elion vodka

11. Kástra Elión Vodka

A delectable addition from Greece, Kastra is the perfect sipping vodka. The brand is distilled from Greek olives and blended with grains and natural spring water to create a flavour that oozes sophistication. Our favourite way to enjoy this vodka is sipped neat over rocks or chilled for the perfect martini.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Country of origin: USA
Proof (US): 80

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

pinnacle vodka

12. Pinnacle

Pinnacle Vodka is a premium vodka from France. It has long been considered a classic vodka due to its simple, rich taste and simple approach to distilled alcohol. You can easily enjoy this drink on its own, mixed or as a delicious addition to a cocktail. We love this brand because it is affordable but doesn’t compromise on taste.

Manufacturer: Beam Suntory
Introduced: 2002
Country of origin: France

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

van gogh vodka

13. Van Gogh Vodka

Unsurprisingly, Van Gogh is one of the vodka brands to come out of the Netherlands. If smooth and pure vodka is what you favour, Van Gogh Vodka will do nothing but please. The European wheat is distilled multiple times to provide a smooth, refined and well-balanced taste. Their flavoured spirits are infused twice for a vibrant flavour that will have you hooked.

Owned by: Luctor International
Produced by: Distillery Cooymans International
Introduced: 200o
Country of origin: The Netherlands

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

ciroc vodka

14. Ciroc

Another contribution from the French, Ciroc, is an innovative vodka brand that we love. The vodka is distilled from French grapes and is distilled five times for an extra smooth flavour. Expect touches of fresh citrus from this brand, and try their other unique flavours like their limited edition white grape or summer watermelon.

Manufacturer: Diageo
Proof (US): 70-80
Introduced: 2003
Country of origin: France

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

skyy vodka

15. Skyy

Quadruple distillation and triple filtration, this American brand from the trendy city of San Francisco, is a pioneer in innovation. Skyy has an entire team helping craft the perfect blend, from a water sommelier to a chemist. They stock pure original vodka and a few infused options for days that you feel like a bit of extra flavour.

Manufacturer: Campari Group
Country of origin: United States
Introduced: 1992
Proof (US): 80

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

crystal head vodka

16. Crystal Head

Don’t let the skull-shaped packaging deter you; Crystal Head is an original, delicious vodka brand that has paved its way as one of the best new brands on the market. Their original vodka uses Canadian corn distilled four times and then filtered through crystals known as Herkimer diamonds. They have another variety called Aurora, which uses English wheat and has a dry, warming finish. Their final addition is called Onyx, made from a base of Mexican Blue Weber Agave.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Proof (US): 80
Manufacturer: Globefill Inc
Colour: Colorless

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

chopin potato vodka

17. Chopin Potato Vodka

One of the best potato vodka brands you can get your hands on, Chopin Potato Vodka has been the world’s most awarded over the years. The method used to distil and filter the potato starch gives a uniquely creamy and full-bodied flavour. The strong touches mean that it is the perfect standalone vodka, ideal for sipping neat.

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Manufacturer: Polmos Siedlce
Proof (US): 80
Introduced: 1992

Buy it here (AUS)

hunter distillery vodka

18. Hunter Distillery

What would a list of the best alcohol brands be without an entry from yours truly? Hunter Distillery is Australia’s only certified organic distillery in the Hunter Valley wine region, and the vodka they produce is some of the tastiest in the world. The vodka is inspired by European methods and has a signature sweet, vanilla finish. It only comes in 100 millilitre bottles- too strong to handle, the Aussie way!

Alcohol by volume: 40%
Manufacturer: Hunter Distillery
Proof (US): 80
Country of origin: Australia

Buy it here (AUS)

smirnoff 21 vodka

19. Smirnoff No. 21

Smirnoff No. 21 is probably the world’s most recognised vodka brand, and for a good reason. Always reliable, Smirnoff produces triple distilled vodka with an extra smooth finish everyone loves. It is filtered ten times using their unique method to create some of the world’s most pure vodka. They also have a variety of different flavours and infusions.

Manufacturer: Diageo
Country of origin: Russia
Introduced: ca. 1860s
Alcohol by volume: 35% – 50%
Proof (US): 70 – 100

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

haku vodka

20. Haku Vodka

Haku Vodka is a rice vodka and offers an exotic addition to the list. The uniquely Japanese vodka uses bamboo charcoal filtration to produce a clear, clean and luminous vodka. This vodka is a must-try as its unique flavour will open your palette in a brilliant way, perhaps inspiring new cocktail ideas as well!

Manufacturer: Beam Suntory
Country of origin: Japan

Buy it here (AUS) Buy it here (US)

spirytus rektyfikowany vodka

21. Spirytus Rektyfikowany

Last but not least, Spirytus Rektyfikowany is a classic Polich vodka that you can’t miss. If you like your alcohol strong, this brand has an extreme ABV of 95%, not for the faint-hearted! Because of it-s strong alcohol content, we recommend trying it in an infusion or as a base for liqueurs, as it definitely wouldn’t go down well drunk neat!

Country of origin: Poland
Alcohol by volume: 35% – 50%
Proof (US): 70 – 100

Buy it here (AUS)

You’ll also like:
21 Best Scotch Whisky Brands
18 Best Australian Whiskies You Need to Try
9 Lowest Calorie Alcohols: Least Fattening Explained

General FAQs

What is vodka made from?

Vodka is made from a source of starch, sugar and yeast.

What is the worlds strongest vodka?

Spirytus Vodka is the worlds strongest vodka, with a whopping 95% abv.

What is the best cheap vodka?

Skyy vodka is the best cheap vodka.

What is the average vodka alcohol percentage?

40% is the average vodka alcohol percentage.

About the author

About the author
CONTRIBUTOR

Aimee O'Keefe

Aimee O’Keefe is a Sydney-based freelance writer with a background in fashion, entertainment and technology coverage. She completed a Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and has previously worked with Universal Magazines and the Ministry of Style. She currently works as Content Writer for a leading digital marketing agency.