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Clear Objectives: 5 Great Vodkas for Cold Winter Days

Clear Objectives: 5 Great Vodkas for Cold Winter Days
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The term "vodka" is derived from "voda," the Russian word for water. That's why it's also the only liquor historically lauded for having higher quality for carrying less flavor.

This subdued spirit has been long overlooked for this virtue, but that's changing — in both good ways and bad. Bad, as in crappy-flavored mix-ready vodkas. Good, as in small batch blends with lovely accents.

To prove they're not all pretentious mixers, we searched far and wide to find examples of real untapped premiums — great vodkas that can be served tepid after cold winter hunts (yes, we like to be different), without fear of judgment.

Crater Lake

Like its pale blue label, this Oregon product is utlra clean. Seriously, this stuff is filtered ten times through charcoal, crushed lava rock, and oak. How couldn't it be smooth? This offering is probably the nearest to Russian 'voda ' we tried. That doesn't mean it's not useful, just don't expect to taste much alcohol. Bottom Line: Great taste. Not quite manly enough.

Five Wives

Few of us are crazy enough to truly desire more than one wife, but we can all tip a glass to the spirit of polygamy with Utah's Five Wives Vodka. Just because saying, 'I bought a few bottles for the wives ' is such a grand conversation starter. We didn't have 'Big Love ' for this one's flavor, but it gets the job done. Bottom Line: Fine for a mixer and great for a laugh.

Grand Traverse

This artisan vodka is made from rye, handcrafted and gently filtered. Put all that together and it sounds pretty sexy. Add in 'from Michigan, ' suddenly it's not so sexy. The finish on this vodka is crisp, clean, and light on your tongue, but still makes your lips tingle. See, we told you it was sexy. Bottom Line: Damn good. You stay classy, Michigan.

Karlsson's

This vodka was gloriously raw in its flavor. But that's what you get with a single-distilled Swedish potato blend that needs no filter. Instead of the flimsy fruits of most non-premiums, virgin 'taters carry Karlsson's over the top. We love this vodka 'cause it's a lot like us: simple, full- bodied, and even better the second time around. Bottom Line: We loved this one...it was strong but silent.

OYO

Hunters are whiskey drinkers not martini-swilling vodka lovers. But we've found the best of both worlds. OYO's Ohio-based crew calls this 'the whiskey-lover's vodka. ' We agree wholeheartedly. At its core, this red winter wheat small batch has an easy finish and a medium-to-full body that makes it a great sipper. Bottom Line: By far, our favorite choice for sipping or mixing.

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