In the 1990s and early 2000s, long before the craft gin movement started gathering momentum, vodka was a bartender's go-to – and the UK's top-selling clear spirit
. Producers sought absolute purity, citing the natural water sources used to dilute their spirit and the multiple times it had been filtered, all in a quest to produce a neutral spirit that was ideal for mixing.
Fast forward to 2020 and a new wave of international vodka makers are shaking things up by focusing on the character of the base material (wheat, barley, rye, corn, potato) and allowing its flavour profile to shine through in the final drink.
And just as the gin craze has spawned a host of new UK distillers, so British vodka producers have been busy too. It wasn't so long ago that the vodka in your glass would have been made by the same Herefordshire company whose crisps were in your packet. These days, there is an increasingly diverse range to choose from – and an increasingly broad range of flavour profiles too. Witness The Edwards Potato vodka 1902
with its pear tart and creamy custard notes; and Adnams Copper House Distillery Longshore Vodka
for interesting umami flavours. Then, just as contemporary gins see experimentation with more and more adventurous botanicals, so we have flavoured vodkas, spanning vanilla and citrus notes to tamarind and coffee tones.
Scroll down to discover 20 of the best British vodkas from this year's judging and click here to read David T. Smith on the vodka renaissance
on our consumer title, Club Oenologique.
Neutral VodkaTayport Distillery Malt Barley Vodka
Comforting cacao nibs enveloped in rich chocolate loaf and laced with malted spiced vanilla. Smooth and luxurious; a gorgeously unctuous textured sweet nectar. Highly accomplished.Adnams Copper House Distillery East Coast Vodka
Exciting funky mix of sublime comfort and sensual pleasures; chocolate dusted malted cacao nibs, nuts and smooth creamy caramel palate, laced with ripe and ready fruits. A lifting pinch of lemon zest and a spicy chilli chocolate butter to finish.
Pure Milk Vodka Black Cow Vodka
Rich, luxurious and majestically creamy, this sublimely indulgent essence envelops your palate in concupiscent curds and smooth notes of unctuous apricot lifted by a subtle lemony zip. Easy to enjoy yet profoundly magnificent.Linden Leaf Singularity Organic Molecular Vodka
Pristine limpid untainted essence, very refined and faultlessly pure. The texture is rich and there is the merest hint of delicate vanilla essence; sublimely clean.Glen's Platinum Vodka
Superbly integrated and compact, this vodka delivers a fresh, silky texture and a fabulously creamy mouthfeel. The balance is unparalleled and the finish is impeccably clean. Sleek and elegant, this is an excellent example of the style.Heroes Drinks Company Premium Wheat Vodka
Although subtle and understated this refined spirit is a beautifully balanced example of its kind. Almond notes are enhanced by a touch of vanilla essence, the body is sleek and effortlessly smooth. The finish dry and crisp. Masterful.The Borders Distillery Puffing Billy Steam Vodka
Entertaining, flavoursome Willy Wonka blend; an exciting sweetshop stock of foam bananas, bubblegum and pear drops, succulent ripe fruits and dried fruity malt loaf. The palate is dry.
The Edwards Potato Vodka 1902 Vodka
Pear tart and creamy custard, refreshed with a mineral note and earthy depth. This sweet, clean and cooling spirit offers pear drops and bubblegum lifted by ripe succulent fruits.
Victory London Distillery Vodka
Elegant, refined, perfumed floral nose, crisp and inviting with aromatic fennel and caraway enthusing the palate, then lightly lit with pine and juniper notes. Finishes with a flourish of sweetness.
BrewDog Distilling Rogue Wave Vodka
Lime and lemon on the nose with some creamy chocolate emerging on an attractive cereal-savoury palate. Bright and straight to the point.
The Speyside Vodka Company Snawstorm Scottish Vodka
Very fruity up front with apple, plum and pear plus a little yeastiness. Some nice herbal complexity shines through giving a lifted character. Fantastically smooth and very good.
Quintessential Brands Tesco Imperial Vodka
Rich clotted cream enhanced with vanilla gradually crescendos in warmth whilst a delightful cut grass note brings freshness. Wonderfully smooth and classy.
Chase Distillery Original Potato Vodka
Fragrant floral aromas beautifully blended with green tea, peach, pear and earthy vegetal notes. The mouth feels creamy, buttery, laced with pepper and citrus evoking delicious fresh cooked flan.Adnams Copper House Distillery Longshore Vodka
Complex nose of umami flavours; mushroom, nuts, fresh dough, light sake notes; segues into smooth creamy candied palate of delicate crisp apples, pears and a hint of sugary candy floss.Flavoured VodkaEdwards Distillers Four Feathers Botanical Vodka
A complex botanical profile with notes of coriander, angelica and anise. Dried citrus peel is well balanced against a really pleasing woodiness. Intriguing and polished, this is an excellent vodka.Halewood Wines & Spirits J.J Whitley Vanilla Vodka
Unashamedly indulgent, this vodka is dripping in gorgeous vanilla from the outset. Deliciously rich and creamy with a luscious sweetness filling the mouth. This is pure, dreamy decadence.The Hidgate Broken Clock Lingering Vodka
Subtly aromatic with bright green apple, pear and lemon drop on the nose. Black pepper and well-balanced herbs and spices add to the journey of the palate. Intriguing and complex.Linden Leaf Indica Tamarind Organic Molecular Vodka
Herbal and earthy on the nose with melon and dried flower aromas. A delightful, sweet nuttiness comes through and is enhanced by a hint of tamarind. Very appealing.Glasgow Distillery G52 Botanical Vodka - Fresh Citrus
Plenty of vibrant lime, fresh grapefruit and a hint of tropical fruit layered over a dry, smooth palate. Fresh and very enjoyable.Glasgow Distillery G52 Botanical Vodka - Rich Coffee
Roasted coffee and peach on the nose with a hint of chocolate and a nice citrus lift on the finish. Deep, lingering and very attractive.