Twenty years ago, vodka was all the rage, but being trendy doesn’t necessarily make something better. Even now, with whiskey enjoying a resurgence in popularity, it is still outsold virtually everywhere by vodka, and by a substantial margin.
Yet whiskey always has topped vodka, and always will top vodka, and fact well-demonstrated by the five reasons below. None of them has anything to do with mere sales, so self-evident is the superiority of whiskey.
1. Vodka doesn’t taste like anything, and it’s not supposed to. According to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau defines vodka as “to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” Most countries have similar statutes, which is unsurprising, since the very defining point of vodka is to distill it to such a high level of proof that lacks the very impurities that give taste to, say, moonshine.
If done well, vodka tastes the same whether it is made from grain or potatoes, which is the same thing as saying done well, vodka doesn’t taste like anything. This is perhaps why the Russians drink vodka from tall glasses like it was water, because it shares something in common with the flavor profile of H2O.
2. Whiskey is something to be snobby about. A clever fellow once quipped that if you know a lot about whiskey makes you interesting, but knowing a lot about vodka makes you a club douche. Whiskey has deep traditions involving grain recipes, still design, and barrel aging, with dozens of combinations therein. This is why whiskey distilleries are tourist attractions. The only thing interesting about vodka is what is added to flavor it.
3. Whiskey brings something to your cocktails. Speaking of flavoring, the only thing vodka brings to mixology is alcohol. It’s a neutral base, which is why so many drinks rely on it. Whiskey adds something, so much so that an Old Fashioned or Sazerac comes out very different depending on whether it uses bourbon or rye.
4. Whiskey comes from five major traditional countries. The big whiskey-making regions are the United States, Canada, Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom (mostly, but not solely Scotland). One might counter than vodka is made just about everywhere, but whiskey-making is also spreading around the world, so the point is how many major vodka-making countries are there? Two or three: Poland, Russia, and just maybe Sweden. And Sweden is switching to whiskey.
5. Vodka is passe. If there were any better sign that the heyday of vodka is truly over and done, it’s the lengths people must go to in order to keep vodka interesting. The oddest fad? Consuming vodka by pouring it directly into the eyes.