One of the most interesting aspects of the local distillery revolution here in Washington state is how it has changed my feelings around vodka. As someone who dreams up a ton of cocktails and cocktail recipes, I've grown increasingly bored of using vodka due to its mass-market tastelessness and the lack of flavor it added to drinks. But after sipping a lot of local vodkas, that view has changed. Our local distillers are using natural and high-quality ingredients and not over-distilling them to death, thus releasing vodkas that actually have interesting, individual aroma and flavor personalities and are amazing to either sip solo or mix into drinks. If you have also experienced mass-market vodka boredom, I strongly suggest trying these locally-made versions. They just might make you re-evaluate this base spirit.
Seattle Distilling Company Rocket Vodka: Though this vodka is crafted with care on Vashon island, the flavor profile owes its nature to the other side of the state, as it’s made from red winter wheat grown in the Palouse. The pure grain base definitely shines when tasting, but it’s accompanied by spices and just a touch of trailing dark chocolate. It’s light on its feet, while still being exceptionally flavorful.
Sound Spirits Ebb + Flow Vodka: Distilled just outside of downtown on 15th Avenue, this vodka is made from malted barley (also coming from the Palouse), which may sound like a curious choice. But it brings a signature character to this spirit, which has a deliciously malty aroma and flavor, but one backed by vanilla and a wonderfully dry finish.
Glass Vodka: Made in SoDo, this is one of the few vodkas anywhere that's based on grapes and wine: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to be precise. It’s also influenced by artisan water from co-owner Adrian Higgenbothan’s fourth-generation Eastern Washington farm (Ian MacNeil is the other co-owner).The taste starts with floral notes, then is backed up by citrus and spice and a smooth ending sweetness.
Bluewater Organic Vodka: From Everett, this vodka is made using only 100 percent organic Washington wheat and clear Cascade water. This purity of ingredients comes out in the end product--a soft and smooth and sippable vodka, one with delicate nutty notes in the aroma and a grain-and-spice middle that trails into a peppery vanilla finish. Like all of the above, I’d suggest trying it alone first, then play around with it in drinks.