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
Proof 100 (50% ABV)
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.