Hi, Capn Jimbo here. By now it should have been well established that vodka, like STP is all about marketing.
When Andy Grantelli was asked what part marketing played in his famous STP car additive, he said "STP? STP is marketing". LIkewise the famous Sydney Frank - who established Grey Goose as the very first "premium vodka" (most used to sell for $10 then, he said (paraphrased) "It's only water and alcohol - if I can triple the price it's all profit!". And he did.
A number of leading publication like Businessweek, the New York Times and ABC did blind taste tastes which demonstrated that diehard, won't-drink-anything-other brand types, not only couldn't pick out their brand, but often picked the cheapest vodka in the blind test.
I believe that. But like the curmudgeion of which I am often accused, I just had to devise the Penultimate Vodka Taste Test, lol. I have just such a friend who swears he owns a bunch of vodkas, has tried others, but won't drink anything but Pinnacle.
So I invited him over for a blind test and told him to bring his vodkas which included his go-to Pinnacle, Absolute, Ketel One and New Amsterdam. I said we had two other vodkas to test: Svedka and a hard to find "Maxim" from France. Except for one thing...
The "Maxim" wasn't vokda! I'd found a bottle of 151 proof Graves Grain Alcohol and diluted it with some Walmart distilled water to 80 proof and poured it in the fancy Maxim bottle.
The test was completely blind with each vodka and the, uh "Maxim", served blind with one cube of ice at his request. After careful consideration here's how it came out.
1. The first vodka he rejected was his own, the Pinnacle.
2. The two vodkas he liked the most were (a) Ketel One and - are you sitting down? - the faux "Maxim" - diluted grain alcohol.
3. Next was the very inexpensive Svedka.
Was he shocked? Is the President from Kenya? Diluted the Graves works out to about $6 per 750ml.
Later, my partner in tasting Sue Sea and I then compared the Ketel One and the "Maxim" at room temperature, and to our surprise we preferred the "Maxim" grain alcohol. In sum...
I rest my case. I urge all of you to set up a blind tasting for your fanatic friends to see how well they do in identifying their "must-have, always order" brand...