Grape Vodka Round 1.5 – Three-O VS Van Gogh VS Skyy

TL:DR (Three Olives = medium harsh, Van Gogh = Sweet, smoother, Skyy = harshest)


So I’m bringing back the Grape Vodka tastings from way back then, but this time around there’s a new contender in the mix. We have the previously reviewed Sky and Three-O now joined by Van Gogh. Let’s find out the characteristics of each one.


1) Three Olives – 35% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$26 CAD

  • Made with imported Vodka from England but bottled and produced in USA.
  • 3-O also has a product called “Purple” which is supposed to taste like frozen crushed grapes. I’ll put it head-to-head with the winner in the future.
  • The bottle in the photo is an older bottling and the updated label is much cooler imo.

2) Van Gogh – 35% ABV – 750ml, (Schiedam, Holland), ~$35 CAD

  • no longer listed on the vangoghvodka.com website (checked 10/2018)

3) Skyy Infusions Grape – 35% ABV – 750ml, (San Fran, CA, USA) ~$24 CAD

  • 4x column distilled, 3x filtered, American grain
  • no longer listed on the Skyy.com website (checked 10/2018)

Criteria:

Nose: 3O is mostly clean and gentle with a mostly candy-like artificial but welcoming grape nose, with some mild alcohol detection creeping in late the finish. VG, eww, mostly tingly alcohol detection with just a hint of grape – not very enticing. SKYY has the same candy-like qualities of 3O but has 2x the pungency and is overall much cleaner. SKYY wins for the nose.

Taste & Texture: 3O is thicker in the mouth, exhibiting gentle fruity grape sweetness, some alcohol tongue numbing action from the mids until finish, softly warming the throat. 3O leaves a impression of composure and cleanliness. VG is slightly thinner than 3O, sweeter up front, making it brighter and more palatable as a sipper. Subtle darker and somewhat authentic grape notes show themselves in mainly late mids and exhale. There’s also a touch of tanginess, a bit of tongue minty-like numbness, and touch of throat burn. VG leaves an impression of subtle complexity. SKYY, yikes, the alcohol burns aggressive right from the start, accompanied by the huge candyesque artificial tasting grape flavor. The only redeeming quality is that it displays grape from start to finish, it is flavoured as advertised whereas 3O and VG are more subtle with their grape flavouring. Skyy leaves and impression of a cheap vodka base with artificial flavouring – not good. I choose VG as the winner because of its low alcohol detection and sweet yet subtle grape flavour.


Final Notes:

  • Both Van Gogh and Skyy no longer list their grape vodkas on their respective websites. Thus, Three olives will do
  • Three Olives = harsher alcohol
  • Van Gogh = sweet, subtle grape, discontinued
  • Skyy = harsh alcohol, big candy grape flavour might work well in a cocktail or shots, discontinued

WINNER = Van Gogh Grape, (but it is likely discontinued so go get a bottle of Three Olives Grape)

Grape Vodka Round 1 – Skyy Infusions VS Three-O

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Finally another head-to-head, it sure has been awhile. Tonight we have two American produced vodkas though technically 3-O grape is English Vodka that I assume is flavoured in USA. Skyy is meant to taste like generic purple grape while 3-0 has specified CONCORD GRAPE as their varietal. Neither company list their ingredients but state “natural” grape flavour. (Note: this is an updated review from 2012)

1) Skyy Infusions Grape – 35% ABV – 750ml, (San Fran, CA, USA) ~$24 CAD

  • Skyy also makes a “Moscato infused Vodka”.

VS

2) Three Olives – 35% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$26 CAD

  • Made with imported Vodka from England but bottled and produced in USA.
  • 3-O also has a product called “Purple” which is supposed to taste like frozen crushed grapes. I’ll put it head-to-head with the winner in the future.
  • The bottle in the photo is an older bottling and the updated label is much cooler imo.

20130831_004543

Criteria:

Nose: Skyy starts off with half-candy/half-real pleasant grape aroma but is quickly overwhelmed by unwanted sharp alcohol nasal burn. Subsequent nosings are the same. Three Olives has a similar grape nose but much more gentle and subdued. Skyy’s nose is in 8000rpm 2nd gear while Three-O is cruising safely in a school zone. Based on which I would WANT to drink, the winner is Three Olives.

Taste & Texture: Skyy – very grapey up front, the intensity of the grape flavour matches the intensity of the nose. Medium sweetness in the mids, alcohol nastiness and bitterness thereafter. Three Olives is thicker, delayed alcohol burn, and more refined overall; the grape flavour isn’t quite in your face but neither is the alcohol burn. Skyy feels like an OVERHAND RIGHT whereas Three-O hits like a BACKPEDALING JAB. If I could only choose one grape vodka on my shelf I would choose Three Olives. As a sipper it’s obvious, but as a mixer I think Three-O would be easier to balance since it isn’t so “in-your-face”. In reality though I’m sure both go well in cocktails.

Final Notes:

  • Skyy has bolder flavour but is less smooth. It’ll go well in a low ABV mixed drink.
  • Three Olives is much smoother, balanceable, packaged nicer, and more suited for higher ABV cocktails.
  • (Don’t bother with Smirnoff White Grape (D-), read my review here)

WINNER = Three Olives Grape

Absolut Citron (SWE) VS. Skyy Infusions Citrus (USA) – Citrus Vodka Round 2

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Here we have Round 2 of the citrus vodka battle, with the Round 1 winner Absolut Vodka up against the challenger Skyy Infusions Citrus.

1) Absolut Citron – 40% ABV – 750ml, Sweden, ~$27 CAD

  • continuous distillation, winter wheat
  • Ingredients: vodka, natural citrus flavour (how?) (Note: lime is also added according to their website)

VS

2) Skyy Infusions Citrus – 35% ABV – 750ml, USA, ~$27 CAD

  • 4x column distilled, 3x filtered, reverse osmosis
  • vodka infused with sun-ripened ingredients

Criteria:

Nose: The newcomer Skyy has an amazing full-bodied bouquet of a nose, exhibiting the aromas of lemon zest, lemon oil, and a touch of the pulp when freshly squeezed. The nose of the Absolut is rather, well chemical in comparision; the alcohol is much more detectable and covers most of the lemon scent. Hands down the winner is Skyy Citrus.

Taste: With such a promising nose on the Skyy, the taste should be equally as luscious. It doesn’t disappoint. Its entry is soft and rounded, medium-sweet with the tingly-light tangy citrus warmth kicking in the mids until the finish. The alcohol is soft and never invasive.  Absolut drinks much sweeter and aggressive flavouring in all aspects – bolder but more artificial citrus, more vodka wheatiness, stronger alcohol burn and warmth, and rougher finish. In picking a winner based on enjoyability and balance, a new champion has been crowned in Skyy Infusions Citrus.

Final Notes:

  • Absolut has bolder artificial-tasting flavour, aggressive and alcohol. Not as good as Skyy.
  • Skyy has better smoothness, authenticity of citrus flavour, and drinkability. This will work better with cocktails that require balance and finesse.

Grape Vodkas Prelims

Grape Vodkas

(Read the updated 2013/Aug review here! My palate has changed since.)

Overall Ranking:

  1. Skyy Infusions Grape, (obsolete)
  2. Three Olives Grape, (obsolete)
  3. Smirnoff twist of White Grape, D-

1) Three Olives Grape, 35% ABV, (Lawrenceburg, Indiana)

  • Rating: (obsolete)

Tasting Notes (all at room temp): slightly syrupy mouthfeel, 6/10-level sweetness, grape is muted and mostly in the background hiding behind the warmth of the vodka. Grape flavour is candi-esque and more like a grape soda than from the grapevine. Has an aspartame-like roughness.

2) Skyy Infusions Grape, 35% ABV, (San Francisco, CA)

  • Rating: (obsolete)

Tasting Notes: intense “juicy” grape + vine flavour right off the bat, sharp 6/10-level sweetness in the mids, not as warm as Three Olives but much flavour. Ideal as a mixer or even as a shot. Great depth of flavour

3) Smirnoff twist of White Grape, 35% ABV, (Norwalk, CT)

  • Rating: D-

Tasting Notes: less syrupy than all the rest, huge alcohol impurity + 8/10-level sugar rush from the start mixed with an unauthentic white grape flavour andbitterness, tingliness on the tongue, nasal burn and gag reflex. Avoid.

Cocktail from skyyinfusions.com:

Grape Ginger Swizzle

  • 1.5oz Skyy grape vodka
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (turbinado)
  • 4 blackberries
  • 4 slices of peeled ginger
  • top with ginger ale (about 1.5-2oz)

Direction: Muddle, strain (or double-strain), serve in a low-ball glass with ice and garnish with a blackberry-candied ginger (Reed’s bought at Save-on)-blackberry skewer.

  • Rating: B+

Tasting Notes: Excellent drinkability, good freshness, ginger flavour is well-balanced and sweetness level is expertly controlled. Definitely one to memorize and serve to the ladies.