This herbaceous and peppery vodka is bolder on the palate than other bottles, but it's still versatile: It works well in stirred drinks and also holds up to heavy Eastern European foods like roe and smoked fish.
Company SPI Group
Distillery Latvijas Balzams Distillery (Riga, Latvia)
Proof 80 (40% ABV)
Great choice for a classic vodka Martini on the wet side; plays well with vermouth.
Generally a good choice for stirred drinks; the snappy, peppery, dry profile works nicely with other boozy modifiers without completely disappearing into them.
Affordable price point
Perhaps not the best choice for juicy, fruity cocktails for which you might want a more blank slate-style of the spirit
Some might find the peppery rye notes overwhelming, and mistakenly confuse the innate, dry herb-pepperiness with heat from alcohol.
Nose: Subtle and balanced notes of sweetness and herbaceousness
Palate: This vodka fills the mid-palate with wheated sweetness, and then segues into a prickly, peppery finale. Its body offers a pleasing weight that fills all parts of the mouth equally and blankets the entire tongue.
Finish: Herbaceous and peppery, dry in the midpalate, with a long delicately bitter, tongue-sucking dry finish
Stoli is a vodka with backbone. Vodkas often prioritize a neutral, blank-slate palate, but this bottle's flavors hold a presence, either sipped neat or mixed into a variety of vodka cocktails.
The vodka starts out a little cereal sweet, likely from the wheat that is part of its base, and then grows in herbaceous, peppery dominance from the rye that composes the rest of the recipe. Its flavors and pleasant weightiness cover every part of your tongue, and stand up nicely to heavy, flavorful foods. Chilled and consumed neat, it makes a good accompaniment to many Eastern European dishes, especially roe and smoked fish.
Officially named Stolichnaya until March 2022, Stoli has a complicated relationship with Russia: It originated as a state-produced Russian vodka sometime around the turn of the century and was trademarked in the former Soviet Union in 1938. But it has been made in Latvia since 2000, when its ogliarch owner Yuri Shefler was exiled from Russia for speaking publicly against Vladimir Putin. The company completely rebranded itself as Stoli in response to confusion over its Russian roots after the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Stoli was the first vodka producer to create and release flavored versions globally in 1962 (which was perhaps overshadowed in the news by other events at the time, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and John Glenn orbiting the moon). The first flavors were Honey & Herb and Pepper.
The Bottom Line
Stoli is a solid, classic vodka that works as well in stirred drinks as it does chilled and paired with smoked sturgeon.