For decades, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia have dominated the vodka business. But stalwarts like Stoli, Absolut and Finlandia and even established upstarts like France’s Grey Goose are now facing competition from around the planet. The spirit has truly gone global, with distilleries in the farthest corners of the world producing it. Here are several exotic vodkas to look out for and sample.
Ao Vodka ($50):
Japan is, of course, famous for its rice-based sake, and this new vodka from Suntory is made from the traditional grain, too. It’s created in a pot still on the island of Kyushu and then filtered through bamboo, but we could swear it tastes a bit like sake.
Soyombo Vodka ($30):
We have to admit, we don’t know much about spirits from Mongolia. But Soyombo Vodka, which was just introduced to the US, is from Ulaanbaatar and is distilled five times from a mash of organic wheat. It’s a pretty smooth liquor that’s fairly light with a slight sweetness.
Milk Money Vodka ($20):
When we think of New Zealand, we generally think of sauvignon blanc wine, but the country is now home to a number of vodkas. The best-known is 42 Below, and there’s also Milk Money, which is rolling out across America this winter. What’s even more unique is that the base of the alcohol is milk sugars. Yes, you read that right; it’s made from milk (specifically cow’s milk).
Truuli Peak Vodka ($40):
While there are plenty of craft distilleries in the lower 48, there are actually a few in Alaska as well. Truuli Peak Vodka is located in Anchorage and uses a mash of local barley and wildflower honey to make its liquor. (For an even bigger dose of local flavor, look to Alaska Distillery in Wasilla, which sells several varieties, including a smoked salmon vodka.)
Snow Queen Vodka ($25):
Thanks to Borat, everybody knows about Kazakhstan (well, maybe a somewhat fictionalized Kazakhstan). But what’s less well-known about the central Asian republic is that it boasts the Snow Queen Vodka brand. The alcohol is distilled five times from an organic wheat mash.
Any others you’d suggest? Share your favorite exotic vodkas in the comments below! And if these aren’t unusual enough for you, check out our list of 10 New Crazy Flavored Vodkas.