How does Smirnoff compare to Popove vodka

Is there a difference between cheap and expensive vodka?

Here is a report of an informally conducted taste test that indicates that there are indeed noticeable differences between different vodkas: (The report doesn't say this, but I suspect that, similar to wine, whether one vodka comes out as good as another has little to do with its price, except at the lower end of the price range)

And yes, there are differences - a truth that everyone in the liquor industry knows with a little bit of sense. But one that is often forgotten - also because our government insists on characterizing vodka as a "colorless, tasteless, odorless" drink; [...] That there are subtle and sometimes dramatic differences in taste and smell between one vodka and another was recently brought home by Absolut through a full-day seminar. [...] The focus of the event was a blind tasting of 12 different vodkas. [...]

The main lesson of the tasting - or the newly learned lesson as many of us in the room already knew - is that the biggest difference between the flavors of different vodkas comes from the raw material, and that difference is easy to spot if you pay attention. Vodka can be distilled from anything, but the most common raw materials are grains and potatoes, some use molasses, grapes, and other things. Vodka made from grapes usually has a more fruity character. Grain has the expected gentle, yeasty and even grainy notes, with the rye vodkas having more bits and sparks than the barley or wheat nodkas; and vodka made from potatoes has a rounder, sometimes buttery taste.


Another New York Times taste test suggests the same thing:

A look into the world of vodka reveals a spirit like hardly any other, with standards that essentially differentiate the evaluation from the evaluation of wine, beer, whiskey or even root beer. A malt whiskey should be distinctive and unique. The same goes for a Burgundy or Belgian ale. But vodka? Vodka is measured by its purity, an almost platonic neutrality that makes the tasting more like tasting bottled water or snowflakes. [...]

Lack of distinction is a separate matter from lack of distinction. The vodkas we tried had character and their own aromas and flavors, although the differences between them were often subtle and difficult to articulate. [...]

Even so, at the end of our tasting, Smirnoff was high on our list, ahead of many other names that undoubtedly have a higher status in stylish bars and lounges. [...] The prices for these vodkas ranged from a low of USD 13 for the Smirnoff to a high of USD 34 for Potocki, a Polish vodka that did not make our cut. The Belvedere was also $ 34, but that was more for a liter than the usual 750-milliliter bottle. Imported vodkas tend to cost more due, among other things, to taxes imposed by various governments, exchange rates and, last but not least, marketing problems: as has been demonstrated in many industries, one of the main reasons for wine increasing the price of a product increases its status among consumers.


As a counterpoint, here is another report that suggests that most people cannot tell the difference:

To summarize our results,

  1. With a certain brand of vodka, people prefer their taste after filtering. However, this is most likely due to the fact that filtration reduces the alcohol content.
  2. Most people can't tell the difference between an expensive, high-alcohol vodka and a cheaper, lower-alcohol vodka.

Our second experiment showed roughly equal preferences for Pavlova and Ketel One. Although Pavlova contains 3-5% less alcohol by volume than Ketel One, it's also 70% cheaper, so it seems like a clear winner.