This will be a battle of wheat vodkas. Actually Russian Standard is a winter wheat vodka but close enough.
1) Russian Standard – 40% ABV – 750m, Russia, ~$27 CAD
- their lowest tier vodka; the others being gold, platinum, imperia (in order of grade)
- continuous column distillation, winter wheat
2) 42 Below – 42% ABV – 750ml (*note: This is an old bottle. New ones are now 40% ABV, lowered due to tax reasons and to be more competitive), New Zealand, ~$35 CAD
- distilled from wheat
- now owned by Bacardi, but still operates out of NZ
Nose: First up, the Russian Standard. It has quite a pronounced roundness, composed alcohol, lime, and a kind of rubber/plastic, and minor tingliness in the nose. For the 42 Below the nose is amazingly clean and muted, without much alcohol detection nor tingliness. There is a faint lemony scent and tingliness if you get your nose right in there. Vodka supposedly being a “neutral” spirit, the winner goes to 42 Below for it’s neutrality.
Taste: The Russian Standard brings a soft supple 3/10-sweetness with a hint of citrus, slightly thicker than water viscosity (between a syrup and water), medium alcohol burn in the mids, followed by aniseed and pepperiness. Alcohol hits the nose with medium nasal burn. The 42 Below on the other hand, drinks with a bold 5/10-citrus sweetness, not as thick as Russian Standard viscosity but still thicker than water, more intense aniseed in the mids, a noticeably softer light-med burn, longer length, and a softer, gentler nasal burn. For me, the winner the has to be 42 Below for it’s more pronounced flavours with less alcohol burn.
- Russian Standard has a thicker viscosity, less aniseed, more burn, and a lower price. Good as a mixer/infusions.
- 42 Below is smoother (less burn), with bolder flavours of citrus and aniseed. Better as a mixer to get people drunk.
As with any drink, taste is a matter of preference, how much $$ $ u wanna spend, and national pride. Personally I prefer 42 Below because it is smoother to me. Also it has won more than a dozen of awards in international competitions.