Though U.S. distillers are most widely known and recognized for their many contributions to the whiskey family—bourbon and Tennessee whiskies, in particular—the past couple of decades have seen fantastic spirits of all stripes made by American distillers. And some of the most stunning examples of these fantastic spirits can be found in the vodka category. Despite its reputation as a flavorless and odorless spirit, vodka can vary dramatically depending on a few different factors: what it’s distilled from, the quality of the original ingredients, and the care put into its production. While there are plenty of harsh, beastly vodkas on the market, producers across the States, from California to New York, have mastered their own spin on the crystal clear spirit—and their vodkas are well worth your attention. Here are six of the best American vodkas out there.
If you’re accustomed to spending less than $15 on a handle of vodka, the price tag of this Alameda, California-based juice might cause you to recoil, but we promise it’s well worth the extra cash. Instead of a distillate made of pure grain, like many other vodka makers use, this spirit is made from a blend of neutral grain spirit and the distillate of the same Bartlett pears used to make the distillery’s pear brandy. The resulting spirit is mildly fruity and floral, making it a great candidate for sipping alone or in an ice-cold Martini.
The newly launched Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, distillery’s goal is to give its vodka an unexpected zing of flavor. Made from the same rye, wheat and malted barley distillate as the brand’s Dutch-style Ginever, this organic spirit channels flavors of fruit, herbs and only a hint of peppery spice. There’s no burn, and its mellow flavor is a lovely addition to everything from a Bloody Mary to a Vesper.
COMB Vodka ($35)
One of the most exciting things about vodka is that it can be made from just about anything, from fruit to grain to even honey, which is what StilltheOne Distillery in Port Chester, New York, uses to make its vodka. Distillers ferment the honey—made by bees who favor orange blossoms—into honey-wine, then distill it only once to retain the delicate floral and citrusy notes it gets from the honey.
Hangar One Vodka ($28)
Like its fellow Alameda-based distillery St. George, Hangar One’s classic vodka expression is made from not only a single type of grain, but also from fruit—grapes, in this case. The brand’s distiller takes care to use the best ingredients it can find: grapes from nearby wine country and grains from the Midwest. The spirit that eventually finds its way into the bottle is light, fresh-tasting and floral, with hints of sweet fruit. But if you’d like something with a little more flavor, Hangar One also makes a range of citrus-infused vodkas, including Makrut Lime and Mandarin Blossom.
OYO Vodka ($32)
If you’re committed to wheat-based vodkas, you’ll want to check out this Ohio-based distillery. Not only do they make a signature vodka from local red winter wheat, but the brand also produces Honey Vanilla Bean and Stone Fruit vodkas that have impressive color, depth and flavor. The distillery takes pride in its local ingredients and hometown of Columbus—its name comes from the original word for the Ohio River Valley (Oh-Why-Oh).