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Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Review: Tito’s Handmade Vodka   (88.5)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 23, 2012

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is produced at the oldest legal distillery in Texas in the City of Austin. It is a small batch Vodka produced in a pot still by Bert Butler ‘Tito’ Beveridge (yes, that is apparently his real name). According to the information on the back label of the bottle the spirit is distilled six times from grain, where only the heart of the distillation run is captured to be bottled. The product has enjoyed a remarkable growth in popularity after winning the Double Gold Medal for Vodka at the San Fransisco World Spirits Competition in 2001.

I was given a bottle of Tito’s Handmade vodka by the local distributor, Diamond Estate Wines & Spirits for the purpose of a review here on my website. When I sampled Tito’s for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 4 other Vodkas. Each of the spirits was chilled to 1 degree Celsius and we tasted them in a blind format one at a time putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology.

The First Impression 8/10

Tito’s Homemade Vodka arrives in a pretty standard bar room style bottle. These bottles are designed to be easy to store on the bar shelf; easy for the bartender to hold; and most importantly, easy to pour into the bar glass.  The labeling on the bottle is satisfactory, and I especially liked the back label which provides a lot of information about the Vodka and how it is made, as well as the neck ringer which provides a some additional advertising information complete with a recent comparative scoring from The Wine Enthusiast.

I should point out that I like the plastic screw cap closure which I believe provides a superior seal to the usual flimsy metallic screw caps I see on other products.

The First Sip  18/20

When I poured my shot glass full of Tito’s Handmade Vodka I noticed a little creaminess at the cold temperature, and the Vodka carried a rather obvious aroma of lemon citrus above the glass. Light touches of grain and perhaps a hint of rye spice drifted into the breezes above the glass. My friends and I all felt that the aroma was very pleasant, and seemed to indicate that the spirit was clean and lightly spicy.

When we each took our first sip, the consensus around the table was that the spirit was very smooth with a delicate, but very welcome lemon note. None of us noticed any metallic or detrimental aftertaste.  So far, the Tito’s is living up to its billing.

Taking a Shot  18/20

When I swallowed my first shot of the Tito’s Vodka, I was impressed that the spirit was extremely smooth and imparted no burn to my throat. There is a certain amount of spicy warmth which is imparted to the palate and to the back of the throat. That lemon flavour persists in the aftertaste, but it is pleasant, and you could even say that it was refreshing.

Several days after the tasting session, I sampled Tito’s again on my own; but this time at 16 degrees Celsius. At the warmer temperature the vodka displays a much stronger lemon flavour; but the spiciness and the smoothness remains very similar to what I had experienced before. Perhaps there is some light burn in the throat at the warmer temperature, but I must say that I am impressed that Tito’s holds up this well. Most Vodkas begin to crumble as we approach room temperature.

Out for Dinner  17.5/20

For our tasting, I had made a nice pot of Pepper Pot soup. My friends Lukasz and Connie brought miniature tomatoes, cheese, bread, and spinach dip; Dennis brought some smokie sausages; and Igor brought some pickles. The Vodka tasted just fine with all of the pairings, and especially good with the tomatoes. None of us noticed any strange aftertaste associated with any of the foods or with the Vodka. The clean citrus flavour and the gentle spiciness of Tito’s Handmade Vodka seems to be suited to a large variety of food pairings.

Cocktails 27/30

Of course, at the tasting, I made the standard Cosmopolitan. This is my reference cocktail for Vodka, and as I expected, Tito’s made a very nice Cosmo. It was a little sweeter than the other Cosmos we had that day, but everyone agreed that it was delicious. I made a few other cocktails for myself over the next few weeks, the Pink Pussy Cat, the Sloe Comfortable Screw, and a Moscow Mule.  In each cocktail I was more than happy with the result. The Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a stellar vodka for mixing. I have a few more suggestions down below, and my experience with this Vodka suggests that it mixes well with a large variety of bar drinks.

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Final Score 88.5/100

(Really Nice for Sipping and Shots and Great for Mixing Cocktails)

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.

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Suggested Recipes

Tito’s mixes really well and so I thought I would suggest more than one recipe.

Rustic Breeze

1 1/2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 Tsp Raspberry Syrup
ice

splash of Soda
a twist of lemon peel

Pour the Vodka the juice and the raspberry syrup into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain and pour into a chilled cocktail glass
Add a splash of Soda
Complete by expressing the oils from a slice lemon peel on top of the cocktail

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The Vodka Daiquiri

2 oz  Tito’s Handmade Vodka
1 oz  Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
Ice

Add the three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Strain into a nice cocktail glass

Garnish (if desired) with a slice of lime
And of course…enjoy!

Tito’s definitely works well here!

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The Vodka Tonic is a nice cocktail for hot lazy afternoons. The taste is very clean, with just a hint of lime. I will caution, that a mediocre vodka can ruin the drink as the metallic aftertaste and grainy finish will dominate. But with a really good Vodka like Tito’s the drink becomes sublime.

Vodka Tonic

1 3/4 oz  well chilled Tito’s Handmade Vodka
1 3/4 Oz Tonic Water
a slice of lime

ice

Add the well chilled Vodka and Tonic into your glass
(If you must use ice please use ice-cubes that have not clouded as impurities can ruin the cocktail.)
Twist the lime over the glass and stir
You may garnish with an extra slice of Lime.

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You may (loosely) interpret my score as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing Vodka.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are preferable.
85-89    Excellent!  Shots or cocktails!
90-94    You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 80    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89     Silver Medal (Recommended  for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95     Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+       Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

3 Responses to “Tito’s Handmade Vodka”

  1. ed oconnor said

    Very good vodka at an attractive price ($16 for 750mL where I live. You cant go wrong with it. Tito’s, Boomerang and Grey”s Peak are my favorites in terms of value.

  2. Paul said

    Caught (what I’m assuming is) a little typo there Chip, at least I would imagine you probably weren’t tasting it at 60 C as that would be rather warm…

    • Lol :)

      Thanks Paul. I guess I’m at that awkward age where I grew up on Fahrenheit and have to convert in my mind to Celsius. Sometimes the mind just doesn’t catch up. I’ll fix the typo!

 
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