The best flavoured vodka taste tested 2023
With variations including salted caramel, fruit and chilli on the shelves, vodka is knocking it out of the park in the innovation stakes. Read on for our expert picks of the best flavoured vodka.
Flavoured vodka isn't necessarily always a term to bring joy to many people's hearts. Memories may exist of luminous jars of sweet-steeped booze lingering behind the bar to entrap unwary students, but this is seldom the case anymore. Possibly not as heralded as the craft gin and independent whisky revivals, but just as heartening, is the sight of vodka distillers experimenting with interesting ingredients and methods. Alongside the familiar big vodka brands such as Smirnoff, Absolut and Ciroc are smaller artisan producers getting creative with new bottles.
Flavoured vodka is perfect for cocktails: the comparatively neutral flavour of vodka makes it great for carrying bolder flavours, such as fruits, spices or aromatic infusions. For example, try vanilla vodka in a French martini or use fragrant vanilla vodka in a tropical Waterloo sunset cocktail. Fruit-flavoured vodkas are the most common flavoured vodkas: our list encompasses everything from zesty citrus vodkas to juicy berry or summery peach. The options don’t stop there, however. Flavoured vodka offers a chance for artisans to get creative – we’ve tried everything from spicy chilli vodka to smooth salted caramel or subtle elderflower.
Drinks expert Richard Davie is a writer, barman and brewer with roots in home-brewing. With Miriam Nice, he co-wrote The Art of Drinking Sober. When he's not making his own beer and cocktails, he works at award-winning micro pub The Beer Shop. Find him on Instagram @richarddaviebrews. BBC Good Food’s E-Commerce and Reviews Editor Lucy Roxburgh is WSET Level 2 qualified and writes a range of drinks reviews for BBC Good Food, including best cocktail subscriptions, best gins to give as gifts and best flavoured vodkas. Read on to discover all their picks for the best flavoured vodkas that take advantage of the drink's versatility and its ability to act as a canvas for flavours both bold and subtle.
For more, visit our reviews section to find more than 200 practical buyer's guides, including taste tests of gin, vodka, rum and brandy, plus round-ups of the best rhubarb, pink and citrus gins.
Best flavoured vodka at a glance
- Best unique flavoured vodka: Moorland Spirits Co fir flavoured vodka, £30.95
- Best flavoured vodka for beer drinkers: Mikkeller dry hop Simcoe vodka, £52.95
- Best elderflower vodka: Anno Elderflower Vodka, £33.69
- Best Scottish flavoured vodka: Dunnet Bay Distillery Holy Grass Scottish vodka, £27
- Best marmalade vodka: Chase Aged Marmalade vodka, £38.45
- Best chilli vodka: Arbikie Chilli vodka, £39.99
- Best salted caramel vodka: Two Birds salted caramel vodka, £30.23
- Best pomegranate vodka: Jelley’s pomegranate and raspberry vodka, £32.50
- Best strawberry vodka: Black Cow Vodka & English Strawberries, £24.90
- Best cherry vodka: Vestal black cherry vodka, £22.45
- Best apple vodka: Trøve green apple with ginger botanical spirit drink, £22.52
- Best rhubarb vodka: Brewdog Seven Day Rhubarb and Lemon Vodka, £20
- Best flavoured vodka for cocktails: Absolut Vanilla, £20.50
- Best passion fruit vodka: Smirnoff mango & passion fruit twist, £16.50
- Best ginger vodka: Virtuous vodka ginger, £30.94
Best flavoured vodkas to try in 2023
Moorland Spirits Co Douglas fir flavoured vodka
Best unique flavoured vodka
Moorland Spirit Co hails from a remote corner of Northumberland and counts noted foodie Valentine Warner among its founders. The distillery uses a copper pot still and the team draws upon vacuum distillation and supercritical CO² extraction in order to get the flavours they want, where they want them. Although Moorland Spirit Co is primarily a gin producer, this vodka flavoured by Douglas fir tips is a diamond in its own right.
It has a light, clean nose with lively pine notes and a softer citrus undercurrent. Drunk neat, it’s smooth and light-bodied with a big initial pine rush. Starting fresh and zingy, but without any harsh menthol edge, it then reveals a soft, sweet melon note as it finishes and has a final coolness when you exhale. Excellent simply as a sipping spirit, it has more than enough in it to lift a simple martini or sour and would happily present new aspects to most gin cocktails.
Mikkeller dry hop Simcoe vodka
Best unique flavoured vodka
Mikkeller is better known in the beer world as the nomadic brewer of an endless profusion of unpredictable and intriguing beers made to founder Mikkel Borg Bjergsø’s peripatetic vision, often using the facilities at Belgium’s respected De Proef brewery. This vodka, then, is a sideways step. It uses dry-hopping, a technique where the aromatic hops are steeped in the liquid after the brewing process, which gives aroma and flavour, but no bitterness.
The modern American hop variety Simcoe is used here. Associated with stone fruit, citrus and pine when used in beer, it gives the clean, smooth vodka base a delightful lifting accent. Somewhat surprisingly, the essential element here is of blueberries, namely blueberry muffins, with a slightly cake-y edge on the fruit. There’s a little pine at the end, but this is a less-is-more introduction to the hop, delicate enough to lend itself to a wide range of drinking.
Anno Elderflower & Vodka
Best elderflower vodka
Anno, based in Kent, is the labour of love of two scientists who decided to switch careers and set up Kent's first new gin distillery in 200 years. With a focus on ingredients from the garden of England, it’s perhaps no surprise that one of their selection is this elderflower infusion.
One of the less strong offerings in this list, at 29%, Anno's Elderflower & Vodka has an intense elderflower nose, with the attendant lychee, peach, honey and muscat grape notes you'd hope for. It is sweet, but the flavour comes through well, with a real intensity when drunk neat. It’s delightful and I’d look to add it to a glass of fizz or make use of that marvellous aroma in a cocktail to best enjoy it.
Dunnet Bay Distillery Holy Grass Scottish vodka
Best Scottish vodka
Dunnet Bay Distillery resides about as far north as you can get on the Scotland mainland, but this vodka is kin to the open plains of eastern Europe, using as it does Hierochloe borealis (better known as bison grass). The grass imparts a gentle character, which is accentuated by the addition of apple juice in the distillation.
The aromas are of creamy vanilla with light hints of cinnamon and jasmine, which carry through to the drinking on a lightly sweet base with murmurs of crisp apple and camomile. An obvious, and excellent, partner to a good apple juice, or simply enjoyed as a chilled shot straight from the freezer.
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Chase marmalade vodka
Best marmalade vodka
Herefordshire potato farmer William Chase set up Chase Distillery after enjoying the success of his earlier venture, Tyrrells crisps. A complex methodology, involving marmalade and Seville and Valencia oranges going through maceration, redistillation, further maceration and final filtering, leaves you with a spirit bursting with the flavour and intensity of good marmalade.
There's orange with undertone of lemon on the nose, all marmalade richness and zesty spritz, before a sip doubles down on all of that. Orange marmalade, orange zest, a bit of juice and more sweet marmalade assail you in the most glorious manner. The depth of flavour is hefty, but noticeably moreish when drunk cold and neat. It happily sits astride a good tonic, and does great things to a sour.
Arbikie chilli vodka
Best chilli vodka
Arbikie is the second Scottish appearance on this list and another producer aspiring to be a self-contained single-estate outfit. As with Dà Mhìle and Chase, everything that can be grown on the farm is – including the chillies in this vodka, which are also smoked by Arbikie in whisky casks.
A potato vodka base with a smooth, soft body, it has a smokey nose with a disarmingly light chilli prickle behind it. On the tongue again there’s smoke, a pause and then the heat, paired with a fruity sweetness. The finish is long, slow and hot, with a smoke warmth and ham sweetness. Not painfully spicy, but definitely warming – and an obvious contender for bloody marys or bull shots.
Two Birds salted caramel English vodka
Best salted caramel vodka
- Available from Master of Malt (£30.23)
Since opening its doors in 2013, Leicestershire-based Two Birds has quickly built up a wide array of gins, vodkas, spiced rum and even an absinthe for its range. Its fruit-flavoured vodkas tend to be straightforward, joyful juice bombs, best exemplified by the passion fruit vodka.
Here, however, I want to draw attention to Two Birds' salted caramel offering. Leading with butterscotch on the nose and soft caramel underneath, it's all fairly restrained. A sip shows the caramel up well, still soft and creamy and, while sweet, avoiding the pitfalls of sickliness that's often associated with toffee- or caramel-flavoured spirits. The flavour stretches out gently, ending with a very subtle salt edging. At 37.5%, it carries the flavour of the caramel without turning it into a pouring sauce.
Master of Malt (£30.23)
Jelley's pomegranate and rosemary vodka
Best pomegranate vodka
- Available from Jelley's Distilleries (£32.50)
Hailing from the quiet county of Northamptonshire, Jelley's vodka launched in 2015 and is accredited as organic by the Soil Association. The nose is lightly fruity, with hints of the sharp-sweet juiciness of pomegranate, but the rosemary is more prevalent, with clean, aromatic, refreshing top notes. To drink, it's a similar story. With a very smooth, slightly creamy vodka base as a platform, it’s fully flavoured but not too sweet. Rather than lean towards the syrupy grenadine side of things, the pomegranate offers a light touch, restraining the rosemary and adding structure without dominating.
Black Cow Vodka & English Strawberries
Best strawberry vodka
Black Cow vodka stands out due to its sustainable ethos (it was chosen as one of our top best sustainable spirits), making the most of both milk and wonky strawberries. Borne out of the desire to make use of whey leftover from cheese production, yeast is added to the whey to turn lactose into a beer, which is then distilled into vodka.
This strawberry variety uses locally sourced, leftover or wonky berries rejected by supermarkets to prevent them going to waste. These are pressed and infused into the vodka for four days to impart their flavour (and gentle pink-orange hue) and the berry flavour bursts through the finished drink. The strawberries add enjoyable sweetness without any added sugar and it’s undeniably a great summer drink – fans of Pimm's are sure to enjoy, and it’s great for Wimbledon season. Add a splash to rosé or use in pitcher cocktails with plenty of ice.
Vestal black cherry vodka
Best cherry vodka
If you’re going to try a flavoured vodka, it makes sense to start with an award-winning bottle. A double gold winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this rich Polish potato vodka is made from a single distilling process, to keep the signature potato base flavour and characteristics intact.
Infused with ripe black cherries, it’s one that’s sure to appeal to Bakewell fans (marzipan notes also come through), but is a complex, long drink to experience. Unusual subtle mint notes appear right on the finish, balancing out any rich sweetness from fruit. This vodka has got enough character to be sipped neat, or try with cola for a cherry-cola cocktail.
Trøve green apple with ginger botanical spirit drink
Best apple flavoured vodka
- Available from Amazon (£15.60), Selfridges (£26.99)
Trøve claims to be ‘fanatical about flavour’, focusing on using whole fruits to infuse spirits. The resulting drinks are lower alcohol options (30% ABV) but can be used just like full-strength vodkas – take your pick of serving with tonic, soda or lemonade.
The crisp green apple flavours come through first, with their tart notes balanced by warming spice from ginger. It’s almost like an apple crumble in a glass, but the ginger balances out this slightly confusing flavour. Serve over ice with soda and a thin slice of apple to garnish.
BrewDog Seven Day Rhubarb and Lemon Vodka
Best rhubarb vodka
- Available from Ocado (£22), Brewdog (£20)
Did you know BrewDog does more than just great beers? Moving into the world of spirits, we’ve previously tried its tropical flavoured gin and can now recommend its flavoured vodka, too. This is no casual side hustle either – in its mission to create the purest vodka possible, Brewdog built its own copper still and even rebuilt its roof around the purification column needed. As a sustainability note, it is worth knowing that BrewDog operates Scotland’s first carbon-negative distillery.
Lemon zest and fresh rhubarb are infused into the crisp classic vodka to create this rosy pink, subtly flavoured vodka. Despite the combination of two tart flavours, the resulting vodka isn’t overwhelmingly bitter or sour and the rhubarb comes through gently on the finish. The lemon notes mean it naturally lends well to a classic vodka lemonade and it would be a versatile bottle to have on hand for cocktails, too.
Best flavoured vodka for cocktails
A common complaint with flavoured vodkas is that they are too sweet, strong or overpowering. This may often come from fruit or heavily spiced spirits. If this sounds like you, Absolut Vanilia may be the best flavoured vodka for you. Just like in baking, the vanilla enhances the flavour of your finished drink and can be endlessly versatile. It does have clear fragrant vanilla sweetness (but there’s no added sugar), with almost butterscotch notes yet simple freshness. Its subtle versatility makes it perfect for cocktail: it is most classic in a passion fruit martini.
Smirnoff mango & passionfruit twist
Best passion fruit vodka
This latest launch from a vodka industry stalwart adds a splash of fun to the world of flavoured vodkas. From the bold packaging to the vivid orange hue of the vodka, this is unabashedly loud and proud. We were impressed by the extremely intense aromas on opening – juicy tropical fruit leaps out instantly. This follows up on tasting, too, with plenty of juicy sweet mango balanced by slight passion fruit tartness. The finished drink is like an alcoholic Rubicon, and extremely easy to drink. A great gift for cocktail lovers (this would add instant oomph to a passion fruit martini) or students.
Virtuous vodka ginger
Best ginger vodka
Made in Sweden with 100% organic ingredients, Virtuous vodka is made from a base of organic rye. The unique Virtuous ginger flavour is distilled once before being macerated, then gently filtered. A great option for those who don’t want a sweet flavoured vodka, the fresh ginger is dominant on the nose and continues onto the palate. Even after the macerating and filtering process, the ginger retains its signature spice and heat on the tongue for a unique final result. We also tried and enjoyed the intensely jammy Virtuous raspberry and bitter lemon, which balances sweet, aromatic lemon with a touch of bitterness for an essence of marmalade.
How we tested flavoured vodka
To find the best flavoured vodka, we tested each one neat, before mixing with soda and lemonade, to experience the different flavour profiles. We wanted the named ingredient to come through clearly – it’s disappointing when a flavoured vodka is too subtle, only evident in the aroma or instantly lost when combined with a mixer. We also looked for well-rounded drinks: flavoured vodkas can easily be too sweet, and we wanted the flavour to not be too artificial, plus the finished bottle should still be distinguishable as a vodka. Finally, the spirit shouldn’t overwhelm if used in cocktails.
Is gin flavoured vodka?
In some ways, you could describe gin as flavoured vodka. Gin is created by distilling a neutral spirit – most commonly vodka! – with juniper (crucial for defining it as a gin) and other botanicals. However, while gin is always made from grain-based spirit, vodka can be potato-based. The complex distilling process of creating gin also means the end result differs from vodka.
How to make flavoured vodka
Inspired to try some flavoured vodka, but can’t find a flavour you love? Have a go at making your own and creating the best flavoured vodka for you. Check out our guide on how to make flavoured vodka to get started with all the tips and tricks you need. There’s a flavoured vodka creation for every season: in summer, try elderflower and gooseberry vodka or strawberry and rhubarb vodka. At Christmas, go for festive Turkish delight vodka , while tangy marmalade vodka works all year round.
Flavoured vodka recipes
Spruce up your drinks cabinets with your own flavoured vodkas. In our toffee vodka, you can use store-bought hard toffees to make a deep caramel vodka to gift to friends and family. Seasonal rhubarb can be showcased in this strawberry and rhubarb vodka that lasts in the cupboard for up to a year. We also have a cranberry vodka recipe that makes a bittersweet fruity vodka that has a deep burgundy colour. If you have any Turkish delight leftover, you can make our Turkish delight vodka for a rose-water infused concoction and, for when autumn strikes, we have our three ingredient damson vodka.
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This review was last updated in April 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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