I am a vodka snob. . . I admit it. An unfortunate experience in college cemented the fact that cheap vodka is not good vodka no matter what you mix with it.
Now there is proof that my snobbery is not all in my head. According to the American Chemical Society (ACS) bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, commercial vodkas differ measurably.
The paper, Structurability: A Collective Measure of the Structural Differences in Vodkas, notes that although vodka is a reasonably pure mixture of alcohol and water, different brands offer more appeal.
Scientists at Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, decided to test on a molecular basis the vodka taste perception.
The scientists note: "We began this discussion with the statement that vodka is a colorless, tasteless water-ethanol solution. So how do vodka drinkers develop brand preference? Our answer is structure. Beverages with low structurability are likely to be perceived as watery, because the fraction of water clusters is higher than in brands with high structurability. Beverages with high structurability, on the other hand, harbor transient cage-like entities where the ethanol molecule is sequestered by surrounding water molecules. At high alcohol content, clusters of alcohol molecules appear. . . These ethanol clusters undoubtedly stimulate the palate differently from either water or the E•5.3H2O cage structure. Even in the absence of 'taste' in the traditional sense, vodka drinkers could express preference for a particular structure."
So there you have it – not all vodkas are created equally. And the next time I order a dirty martini with Diva Vodka, which is a triple-distilled vodka that is ice-filtered through Nordic birch charcoal and then passed through a sand of crushed diamonds and other gems, I will not feel guilty. Well – maybe just a little bit. After all, I'm not sure the crushed diamonds are a necessary step.
Senior Digital Editor