Smirnoff has released a series of clean, basic vodkas in three proof levels: 80, 90, and 100. While the 80 and 90 may well be options for fans of sipping (or shooting) vodka, the 100 is what you should reach for when batching drinks for a party.
Distillery: Plainfield, IL
Still Type: column
Awards: Gold, 2018 SIP Awards
- Its high alcohol content makes this a good choice for high-dilution drinks such as highballs or juice-based cocktails.
- The reasonable price point plus its high proof makes it a good choice for large-scale entertaining and using in large-format cocktails and punches.
- Its high alcohol content means this is not a sipping vodka, nor really the best choice for a classic Vodka Martini. It’s also a bit too much of a blank slate for the latter as well—when diluted, any of its sweet cereal flavors empty out mid-palate.
Nose: The first whiff makes this vodka’s high alcohol content apparent, and you’ll also note the corn used as part of the base distillate. That is to say, there’s a distinctive, albeit mostly subtle, sweetness on the nose.
Palate: Undiluted, the 100 proof dominates, quickly overwhelming the sweet cereal-grain flavors and slight oiliness on the palate. When diluted slightly, the sweetness of the cereal-grain notes are still there, but much milder, and the flavor hollows out a bit.
Finish: Cracker dry and lip-smacking, with a little bit of pepper that lingers on
The big party! You can grab a 1.75-liter bottle for around 40 bucks, give or take, and make cocktails for a nicely sized crowd. It’s affordable, entirely a blank slate in terms of flavor, and leaves you with a snappy, dry finish that is entirely inoffensive and disappears like a ghost into a mixer-driven drink. It’s also about the party in that its high proof plays well with big, juicy, diluting mixers on the rocks; you won’t lose the flavor-driving punch of the alcohol in the mix.
It is not, however, a vodka for use in spirit-forward cocktails such as Martinis or for sipping neat or on the rocks. For the latter, its ABV is simply too high and its flavor too much of a blank slate that the proof isn’t driving the subtle flavor of the spirit itself. But if you’re making a big ol’ party punch or pitcher of Sea Breezes, it’s a great choice.
While there was a time when Smirnoff was made solely in Moscow, this “Russian” vodka is actually distilled in the United States, hence the corn base from its Midwestern locale.
The bottom line: If you’re looking to keep costs down when making a vodka-based cocktail for a crowd, Smirnoff 100 is a decent choice.