15 Vodka Brands to Avoid

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Vodka is a clear spirit known for its neutrality and can be a base for countless cocktails or enjoyed neatness. But with so many brands on the market, how do you ensure you get a smooth, enjoyable experience? Unfortunately, some vodkas fall short, leaving you with a harsh burn and a potential headache the next day. This article isn’t about shaming brands but empowering you, the drinker, to make informed choices. By understanding what makes vodka unpleasant, you can confidently navigate the liquor store, avoiding options that might leave you wishing you’d gone with a different bottle. 


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Made from American corn, this vodka has a harsh, chemical aftertaste often described as peppery. Some people point out that it tastes like a chemical solvent. Unfortunately, the brand’s water source is the culprit, although it’s distilled six times.



Known for its fruity flavors at an incredibly affordable price, UV Vodka can be a fun addition to a party. However, the taste is often described as artificial and sugary, with a low-quality alcohol base and an ethanol odor you can smell a few steps away. 


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Svedka is relatively smooth for its price point, with a neutral flavor that mixes well in cocktails. However, others find it has a slight alcohol burn and a faint aftertaste. Svedka’s neutrality makes it a decent choice for mixed drinks, especially those with strong flavors that can mask any shortcomings of the vodka itself.

New Amsterdam

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This brand seems appealing for its mid-range price point. However, some find it has a noticeable alcohol bite and lacks the smoothness of higher-tier vodkas. New Amsterdam can be a decent choice for mixed drinks, but you might want to consider a brand with a more refined taste and stronger flavors for sipping neat. 

Three Olives

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Three Olives offers various flavored vodkas, which can be a fun way to experiment with cocktails. However, the base vodka can be slightly sweet and have a noticeable grain alcohol taste. If you whiff the bottle, you’ll smell nail polish remover. 


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Primarily known as a budget-friendly option for mixed drinks, Skol Vodka can have a strong alcohol smell and a harsh taste. While affordability is a significant plus, other value brands offer a smoother drinking experience for cocktails without breaking the bank. 



Although this vodka tastes quite bitter, this isn’t why we think that you might be better off without Burnett’s vodka. Unfortunately, Vodka enthusiasts often describe it as a paint thinner, so expect some people to return their cocktails untouched if you use this as a base for your drinks. It’s usually associated with nasty hangovers, too. 


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Taaka Vodka has a reputation for being a rough spirit. Similar to Skol, it can have a strong alcohol presence and an unpleasant aftertaste that some describe as medicinal. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly vodka, better choices are available.



Usually known for its gin, Gordon’s brand offers affordability and a neutral spirit. It comes in a plastic bottle, which most vodka drinkers would associate with its not-so-impressive quality. Some find it slightly sweet and lacking the smoothness of pricier options. It’s a reliable cocktail choice but might not be that good when drunk straight. 

Popov Vodka

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Although there are some Popov vodka fans, we aren’t sure they like it for the quality. It can be a neutral base for cocktails with a slightly bitter aftertaste and a strong smell. This can be off-putting when sipped neat. Yet, Popov can be a reasonable option if you’re on a tight budget and mixing drinks.

Pau Maui

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This Hawaiian-made vodka is distilled with pineapple and boasts a tropical twist. While intriguing, the pineapple base can impart a sweetness some find overpowering. It can be an exciting choice for tiki cocktails or for those who enjoy a sweeter vodka, but it might not be for everyone.


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Many people are attracted to Skotka vodka because of its unique bottle shape. It’s made using sugar beets and distilled seven times to make it as natural as possible. However, it doesn’t taste as clean as some brands, as it has vanilla sweetness and a rough aftertaste. 


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While affordability is a plus, Karkov is known for a harsh taste and a lingering aftertaste. Many college students have stories about the headaches and stomachaches they experience the next day after drinking this vodka. So, if you’re past your college years, you might want to avoid it.  



This Polish brand uses potatoes as its base and undergoes a multi-filtration process. Some appreciate its smoothness, while others find it too creamy and oily. Chopin can be a good choice for those who want to try something different, but those seeking a more distinctive flavor profile might want to look elsewhere.

Crystal Head

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Crystal Head vodka tastes good, but it’s incredibly overpriced. Bottled in a skull-shaped container, it’s a definite conversation starter. The vodka is made from Canadian corn and pristine water and filtered through Herkimer diamonds. Yet, these factors don’t justify its high price tag. 


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