The morning after my first full-scale vodka tasting party was not nearly as painful as I feared it might be. Here is the full report!
Double-blind(ish) tasting, each participant ranks all vodkas, from best (1) to worst (6).
Our vodka experts were invited over for a Saturday afternoon cookout. After the meal we gathered inside for the tasting. I prepared official ballots for the participants. You will note that the ballot lists Ketel One, but this was swapped out for Effen, which Pawel had brought.
(I am amused by the fact that the invite said “if you want anything besides meat and vodka, bring it!”, and Pawel brought more vodka. It is for such reasons that we are friends.)
I set out 42 glasses, and Sotheavy helped me label each set “A” through “F” with little stickers before filling. Then, while people played Beatles Rock Band, I filled each with about a half-shot and wrote down which was which. This would normally make it a single-blind test, but I honestly forgot which vodkas corresponded to which letters by the time I was done. I think this officially qualifies as double-blind-ish.
Here is a picture of the spread.
We all did our tasting at the same time, but not in a structured fashion. Chips and lemon wedges were available for palette cleansing. The goal was simply to rank them according to personal taste, not by price or match to the “correct” vodka.
Nobody did them as shots. We all spent a good amount of time going through the process, tasting and re-tasting, adjusting our rankings. I would estimate the group spent about 15-20 minutes working on it.
After everyone had their ranking finalized, it was time to view the results!
And the results are… (drum roll please)