Vodka has a reputation of being odorless and tasteless—qualities which can be good or bad, depending on who you ask. But the truth is, it’s neither. Though it may not vary quite as much in flavor and aroma as whiskey or rum, every bottle has a distinct smell and flavor, and some are better than others. The good news: Those superior bottlings are not always the most expensive. Here are nine super-affordable vodkas that are widely available and won’t leave your throat burning in their wake.
This Polish vodka just won the coveted double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and it clocks in at one-third of the cost of most of its competitors. Distilled from 100% rye, it has a neutral but slightly sweet flavor. Try it neat, over ice and in cocktails.
Available for just a hair more than a sawbuck, New Amsterdam vodka is good booze at an almost unbelievably low price. It’s distilled five times, which the U.S.-based brand claims gives it its smooth finish. Great for mixing into cocktails, its price tag also makes it a good option for boozy experiments, including infusions, Bloody Mary popsicles and liqueurs.
Sobieski is a great budget alternative to pricier options like Grey Goose and Belvedere. It’s made in Poland from rye grain and has a subtle spicy flavor.
Made from American grains in Weston, MO, 360 Vodka is fully eco-friendly: The grains are sourced locally and then distilled sustainably. The flavor is bright and the vodka is relatively dry on the palate, making it a great option for Dirty Martinis and Lemon Drops. The best part is, once you polish off the bottle, you can continue using it to house your boozy experiments, like homemade Irish cream or coconut rum, or you can return the swing top as part of the brand’s Close the Loop initiative, which recycles the closures and also donates to environmental organizations and other local charities.
A great pick for potato vodka enthusiasts, Luksusowa is fairly neutral, but finishes with a kick—perfect for those cocktails in which you want to taste the vodka. Hello, Moscow Mules and White Russians.
If the number of distillations is an important factor in choosing a bottle of vodka, Deep Eddy has you covered: It’s distilled from corn a grand total of 10 times. The Texan brand also comes in a variety of flavors, including Ruby Red, Lemon and Sweet Tea, which are all made with real juices, essential oils and honey, instead of the artificial flavorings found in other flavored vodkas.
Distilled from corn, Prairie Organic is both certified organic and kosher. And unlike other vodkas, there’s no set number of times Prairie Organic is distilled—the brand determines how many distillations each individual batch will get to ensure a consistent flavor and product. The result is a well-balanced spirit that’s not too spicy or too sweet.
This Texas-based vodka brand exploded onto the market in 1997 and has since earned cred with both pro and home bartenders alike. Hovering around $20, Tito’s is distilled from corn, and it has a mild, sweet aftertaste, which makes it good for both sipping on the rocks with a twist and mixing into vodka Gimlets and Vespers.
Though vodka can be made anywhere in the world, this is the only one crafted in Iceland. Made at a distillery in Borgarnes, Reyka relies heavily on the region’s volcanic activity. It’s distilled using geothermal heat and water from a lava field that’s a whopping 4,000 years old. During distillation, the vodka also runs through lava rocks that impart an interesting minerality to its flavor. While it’s delicious on the rocks, we recommend mixing it into a delightfully bitter and crisp Espresso Martini.
Known for being high-quality at a low price, Monopolowa is a Polish-Austrian vodka made from potatoes. Almost buttery on the palate with flavors of lemon peel, wet stone, fennel and mashed potatoes, this vodka is exceptional in a Vodka Martini. When stirred with a lemon twist, the classic cocktail gets a savory upgrade and a long-lasting, creamy finish with this spirit as the base.
Rich and full-bodied, this Swedish-made vodka is produced from 100-percent winter wheat. Although it was introduced to the United States in 1979, Absolut Vodka has been in production since 1879 and is one of the oldest distilleries in Sweden. Known for its exceptional smoothness, this vodka is one of the few on this list that is just as good straight (chilled, of course) as it is in a Highball.
If you want a classic, no-frills Russian vodka, this bottling is one of the best you can buy—at any price. Distilled from winter wheat, Russian Standard is filtered through charcoal and quartz from the Ural Mountains for clarity and smoothness. Before bottling, the spirit is brought to proof with water from Lake Ladoga, which is prized for its softness. Silky and smooth on the palate, this pristine vodka is an ideal companion to food—especially smoked meats, fish and pickles—and makes a great base in a crisp, icy Vesper.
Produced by The 86 & Co.—Simon Ford’s company, co-founded with the owners of Employees Only, that sources bar-friendly spirits from distilleries around the world—Aylesbury Duck vodka is made from winter wheat in the Canadian Rockies near Calgary. Dry and crisp, it has flavors of lemon zest and white pepper. Created specifically for its versatility behind the bar, Aylesbury Duck vodka is just as tasty in a Moscow Mule as it is in a Screwdriver.