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The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

RH-winner2013The Rum Howler had another great year sampling and tasting Vodka in 2013 as it seems like producers from all over the world have been sending me samples for review upon my website. My quirky style of vodka review appears to have struck a chord with these producers, especially those in Eastern Europe who have told me that my willingness to bring the gastronomic experience into my review process is much appreciated.

Vodka is not (as some would have you believe) a colourless, odourless, and tasteless spirit meant only for mixing cocktails. There are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot. When served with good food, vodka also has the ability cleanse the palate between bites allowing you to taste each morsel more completely which vastly improves the taste experience.

When I review this spirit on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of the subtle nuances of pleasure which Vodka can provide. I must be doing something right, because my Vodka reviews are amongst the most popular on my website.

As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. This year, with the very best spirits, I also compared each spirit with various food pairings in my efforts to determine the very best.

All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards. The competition was particularly fierce this year, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Vodka. These Awards are for the best Vodka Spirits I encountered in the year 2013:

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Magic Moment Remix Green AppleThe 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured Vodka

and the winner is:

Magic Moments Remix Green Apple

Runner-up award to: Magic Moment Remix Lemon

Honourable mention to: Magic Moments Remix Orange

For the second year in a row the clear winner this year in the Flavoured Vodka Category was the entire Magic Moments Remix line-up. These triple distilled long grain rice spirits from India ran a scythe through the competition sweeping the flavoured Vodka category. What separated the Magic Moments line-up from other flavoured vodkas is how I found the flavours tasted exactly the way they should. The amount of sweetness is just right, and I detected no hints of anything artificial in the flavour profiles.

It is a pity that my samples of these rice-based spirits have all but disappeared from my mixing shelf.

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HW VodkaThe 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka Value
and the winner is:

Highwood Premium Vodka

Runner-up award to: Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Honourable mention to: Souvenir Vodka

I considered two major factors in determining the Best Value Priced Vodka. The first was the Vodka’s mixability in a range of cocktail styles, (this year I mixed a Vodka Mojito and a Vodka Daiquiri). I scored this equally against the performance of the Vodka served neat at room temperature. Once I had determined the scores for each Vodka in the category I weighed these scores against the prices in my locale. A clear winner emerged as Highwood’s Triple Distilled Premium Vodka scored near the top of the category yet offered a price-point the other spirits could not match.

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DCThe 2013 Rum Howler Award for the Best Mixing Vodka

and the winner is:

Double Cross Vodka

Runner-up awards to: Ultimat Vodka 

Honorable Mention to: Beluga Transatlantic Racing and Beluga Gold Line

For this category, I was only concerned with what made the best cocktails. I did not consider price, and I did not consider the performance of any of the spirits as sippers. I began my tasting sessions with 15 Vodkas, separated into two flights. On the first day, I mixed my standard Vodka Mojito recipe for each vodka in each flight and chose the best to move on. Then I duplicated the process on the next day mixing Vodka Daiquiris with each spirit. Once I had established the best six spirits, I mixed a Vodka Martini with each to determine the best. It should be noted that in that final flight of six spirits, all four of the Beluga Vodkas (from Russia) which I have reviewed upon my website were still in the running; however the winning Vodka was the Double Cross from Slovakia winning by just a hair over the Polish Vodka from Patron, Ultimat.

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Gold lineThe 2013 Rum Howler Award for the year’s Best Overall Vodka

and the winner is:

Beluga Gold Line

Runner-up award to: Beluga Allure Russian Vodka, and Ultimat Vodka

Honorable Mention to: Double Cross Vodka, and Beluga Russian Noble Vodka

The Nominees for this category were judged in four specific areas. How the Vodka performed as a sipping spirit; how the vodka performed when served ‘shot style’ ; how well the Vodka paired with various foods; and how the vodka performed in a cocktail. I chose the Vodka Daiquiri as my base cocktail. In 3 out of the four categories the Beluga Gold Line Vodka won outright and its strong performance as a mixer guaranteed victory. This is (to this point anyway), the best Vodka I have tasted and reviewed!

This was the best line-up of Vodkas I have had the pleasure of tasting and the five Award Winners were all extremely good. These are all advertised as “Ultra Premium” spirits and I was happy that each lived up to their billing.

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RH-winner2013The Winners

The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured VodkaMagic Moments Remix Green Apple

The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Highwood Premium Vodka

The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Mixing Vodka: Double Cross Vodka

The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Vodka: Beluga Gold Line Vodka

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RH-Runner-Up-2013The Runner-Ups

The 2013 Rum Howler Runner – Up Award for Best Flavoured Vodka: Magic Moment Remix Lemon

The 2013 Rum Howler Runner – Up Award for Best Value Priced Vodka: Tito’s Handmade Vodka

The 2013 Rum Howler Runner – Up Award for Best Mixing Vodka: Ultimat Vodka

The 2013 Rum Howler Runner – Up Award for Best Overall Vodka: Beluga Allure Russian Vodka, and Ultimat Vodka

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RH-HM-2013The Honourable Mentions

The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Flavoured Vodka: Magic Moments Remix Orange

The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Value Priced Vodka: Souvenir Vodka

The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Mixing Vodka: Beluga Transatlantic Racing Vodka and Beluga Gold Line Vodka

The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Overall Vodka: Double Cross Vodka, and Beluga Russian Noble Vodka

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