We Have A New Champion

Early this month, I gave Martini Boy a fifth of my then-favorite clear grain spirit, the outstanding Square One, which is an “organic” rye vodka made in Idaho. Right up until this weekend, I was convinced (and I think Steve agreed) that it’s one of the smoothest, if not the smoothest vodka I’ve ever tried. It’s also one of the pricier brands (short of the really esoteric stuff), weighing in at around $40 a fifth in your average package store.

That was then. This is now.

Tito’s Handmade is distilled from corn, and produced in a little shack outside of Austin by a guy whose real name is Tito Beverage–all of which led me to believe that it would resemble lighter fluid more than a top-shelf brand. The only reason I picked it up on Friday is, I used to live in Austin and got a kick out of the idea of having a bottle of vodka made there.

How wrong I was.

Not only can it go toe-to-toe with Square One in flavor and smoothness, Tito’s gets a big tough-economy thumbs-up for costing less than half as much. Check it out, and if you’re in a state with no sales on Sundays and can’t get to the store today, click here in the meantime for a really great article about the origins of Tito’s from a few years back in the Austin Chronicle.

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18 Responses to “We Have A New Champion”

  1. William Young Says:

    I found Tito’s on the local state store shelf about a year ago and fell in love with the stuff: a $15 bottle of super-smooth vodka that you feel bad putting an ice cube in (heaven forfend you mix it with anything). It’s liquid silk; just put it in the freezer. Best thing about the bottle: no kitsch value, no pretentious engraving, just a stick-on label.

    While we’re at it, if you come come across a bottle of Blue Coat gin, buy it. It’s American-made gin (right here in Philly) that’s full of botanicals, if you like that in your gin (think Bombay Sapphire, or Hendrick’s). Makes the perfect martini.

  2. Charles Purvis Says:

    Hey Will, where can you find this in Atlanta? Sounds like it might be worth a trip to the package store.

    Thanks!

  3. Mike Says:

    For G-d’s sake people, its Vodka, not Brandy, not Bourbon, hell, it’s not even Tequila, (all of which have varying flavor enhancing methods of distilling and aging).
    If you can’t find a less than $20 for 1.75 liter bottle of vodka to drink and enjoy you’re just another pretenentious you know what.
    I’ve been drinking vodka on the rocks with a squeeze of lime for longer than most of you have been alive. My current vodka is Svedka, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svedka)
    and not just because “It is probably best known in the US for the controversial ad campaign created by the New York-based agency Amalgamated introduced in late 2005, with a futuristic “spokesbot” designed by Stan Winston. The ads make the claim that in the year 2033 Svedka will be the most popular vodka in the world. The ads poke fun at baby boomers, Scientologists and numerous other current pop-culture targets.”
    Even tho’ that really helps!

  4. -Ed. Says:

    It’s good to get that maliforous Absolut stench behind us and focus upon good old American hooch again.

    My friends and I here in Austin continue to make great gulping strides in our efforts to make Austin the most drunken city in America again. Tito’s Vodka is our fuel. Thanks for the global sales pitch, Will.

    A friend of mine who recently visited Austin described Tito’s as like “satin bed sheets with a safety harness” but none of us yet understands what the frig he meant. He meant it as a compliment, though; he sleeps around a lot.

  5. -Ed. Says:

    Mike – I agree, Svedka is a fine vodka, I have had many a fine evening enjoying it. But did you know Svedka spelled backwards is akdevs?

  6. peter jackson Says:

    Shit, our secret is out. If Tito’s goes up over $20, I’m holding you directly responsible, Collier.

    yours/
    peter.

    PS: Steve Baughman says hi.

  7. -Ed. Says:

    I’ll personally kick his fat Georgia ass if it does.

  8. Will Collier Says:

    Chris, I’ve seen Tito’s in a couple of liquor stores in Smyrna, one of them pretty low-rent. Shouldn’t be hard to find around “the metro.”

    Ed and Peter, I did take your concerns into account… but then I had another drink and figured, what the hell…

  9. Joe in Texas Says:

    Tito’s is good and cheap, but if you can find it, there is another choice for equally good stuff.

    Dripping Springs (also made near Austin, TX)
    http://www.drippingspringsvodka.com/

    All my Vodka drinking friends swear by these two brands. Me, I drink Bourbon, so what do I know.

  10. jaymaster Says:

    Will,

    THANKS! That’s some good stuff. I bought a couple bottles today, one to chill, and one to keep at room temp. I just finished a couple tastings, and this stuff is definitely going into my regular rotation.

    I don’t think I’d call it the best vodka I’ve ever had, but it sure is interesting. And very pleasant.

    I’ve mentioned here before that I experimented heavily in the past with making my own vodka. I tried different alcohol sources, fermentation types, still constructions, and filtering methods.

    For my current “house” vodka, I buy some cheaper commercial vodkas, and filter them for about three months. It’s a simple way to get some damn good stuff.

    But heavily filtered vodka is always a bit thin. It’s damn near pure ethyl, with very little aroma or taste, and near zero mouth feel. The type of water used to cut it can have a significant impact on its taste and mouth feel. And that’s where a lot of differentiation occurs with many of the high end vodkas.

    But there is something different about Tito’s. It has a pleasant aroma, and TONS of mouth feel. My initial suspicion is that it is distilled to near pure ethanol, filtered, and then some of the lower and/or higher alcohols extracted during previous distillations are added back in after filtering. And based on the mouth feel, I‘d wager there’s a bunch of lower alcohols in there. Or maybe just some Wal-Mart grade glycerin….

    Of course, this is based on just three drinks, and I’ve got a bit of as cold to boot. But the buzz seems different than a pure ethyl buzz. If the stars align themselves, I’ll put away a bottle or so at a sitting this weekend. The buzz and the hangover (or lack thereof) are important diagnostic tools.

    And yes, I know nobody asked. But I’ve taken it upon myself to do this research for the common good.

  11. KC Says:

    Tried the Tito last night….$15.00 at Albertsons in Tallahassee. I give it a big thumbs up!

  12. Charles Purvis Says:

    Thanks, ahem, Walt. Found it at Roswell Beverage Center, corner of Holcomb Bridge and Hwy 9. Yummy.

  13. Will Collier Says:

    DOH!

  14. -Ed. Says:

    jaymaster,

    Your remarks reminded me of an old Russian language professor of mine who always made his own flavored vodkas. I keep meaning to try it, but somehow never do. Possibly because a bottle of vodka in this house is a popular item..

    This guy was a Russian. He said to buy a bottle of vodka, not necessarily the best stuff, then put in a fair quantity of your desired flavor, in its natural state. If you want lemon vodka, put in chunks of lemon; orange, chunks of oranges; whatever. His favorite was to use grasses, much like the stunningly delicious Polish vodka with buffalo grass in the bottle (Wybrovka). You get the idea.

    Let it sit for a couple of months, undisturbed. Your additive over time will turn nasty, all coated with goo and whatnot. Just filter out what’s in the bottle, eliminate the additive and, poof, you have it.

    All the goo around the additive will be the undesirable elements of the vodka – the headache and hangover the next morning.

  15. jaymaster Says:

    Ed,

    Sounds yummy!

    When I clean my filtering charcol by baking it in the oven, it smells just like a hangover.

    For further reading:

    http://www.homedistiller.org/polish.htm

  16. IWood Says:

    So just for larfs I asked if my corner liquor and snack cake dispensary had Tito’s. And they did-a single body, which I now have. It is indeed a fine spirit.

    Thanks Will!

  17. IWood Says:

    Body?

    Bottle.

    Christ.

    One shot, and I’m already thinking corpse disposal.

  18. Mike Says:

    Ed,
    You are “kinda’ right.
    From my mid 70’s life in suburban D.C. I discovered a superb resturant, 21st Century P.C. incorrect, Serbian Crown!
    Lotsa vodkas on the list, many flavored, but all decanted and put in freezer for 3+ months with the flavoring!
    BTW, as a SF CA immigrant, I was amazed and pleased at the number of resturants occupying the lobby space of apartment buildings. Not ever to be seen anywhere on the Left Coast!

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