What are the best vodkas in 2022?

Right off the bat, Haku by House Of Suntory scored Best Vodka in our spring blind taste competition. This “nearly flawless” vodka is a rice-based spirit produced by world-class experts with cutting-edge distillation equipment by the company that brings you the world’s finest Japanese Whiskeys. But while Haku reigned supreme, many relatively small craft distilleries gave this Goliath a run for its money. As a hat tip to the little guy, here are five surprising favorites from the Spring 2022 Barleycorn Awards. But will Haku take the coveted award for Best Vodka Of 2022? Our Fall competition is coming soon, so let’s see who will ultimately reign supreme. Stay tuned for a big announcement soon.

High Bank Vodka

Columbus, Ohio
Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $19

The Columbus, Ohio-based partners who launched High Bank Distilling Co did so with whiskey on their minds. But as it turns out, they also make a “damn tasty” vodka, racking up double gold medals in San Francisco and Barleycorn spirits competitions. Distilled from wheat and local organic apples, High Bank greets the olfactory with “airy aromas with a wisp of lemon zest and fruit.” The palate “unexpectedly opens up with vanilla and citrus flavors,” concluding with a “fleeting but sweet” finish.”

High Rock Vodka

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Vitals: 88 Proof (44% ABV); $18

Made in partnership with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy, Sugarlands Distilling’s High Rock Vodka is a corn-based spirit distilled seven times then mellowed over a classic Tennessee-style sugar maple charcoal filter. Bottled at an elevated 88-proof, this “no brainer cocktail darling” is a “bright and neutral vodka that’s sweet and pleasing all around with a zippy finish.”

Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020

St. Lawrence, Jersey
Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $50

Martini time, people! Located in the English Channel off the coast of France, Royal Mash is a “rich and flavorful” vodka distilled from locally grown Jersey potatoes only once in 200-liter copper stills. What comes out is a “thoughtful” vodka described by one judge as tasting like “clean, damp rocks after a rain storm.” The panel agreed that Royal Mash is “a solid, traditional tasting vodka that’s tasty and well put together.”

The Community Spirit Co Vodka

Manhasset, New York
Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $27

Community Vodka is a corn-based neutral spirit from MGP Distillery in Indiana that’s ultimately shipped to Mexico, where it is proofed down with beautiful well water. The vodka is then filtered with a unique activated coconut carbon system to achieve Community’s signature flavor. The result is a “bright and punchy” vodka with “corn silk” aromas and a “subtle sweetness” on the palate with a “round but clean mouthfeel.” One judge declared Community Spirit ” a great example of genuinely neutral vodka. Nice one!”

Watershed Vodka

Columbus, Ohio
Vitals: 80 Proof (40% ABV); $25

Made from a recipe developed in 2010 then updated in 2015, Watershed is a “Big, bold, sweet and briny” vodka made from a recipe of corn and apples. While this vodka would be delicious served, as one judge put it, “cold with a drop of vermouth and a lemon twist,” all agree that this is a versatile cocktail vehicle. Here’s a simple drink called the Coco Loco, a recipe from the Watershed team.

Coco Loco

- 1 ½ oz Watershed Vodka
- ½ oz Lime Juice
- ½ oz Simple Syrup
- Coconut Seltzer

Pour vodka, lime, and simple syrup over ice in a collins glass. Top with coconut seltzer (we like LaCroix) and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.

Spirits writers, marketers and designers are among the most influential forces in the spirits industry. Their opinions, ideas and creative talents inform and influence consumer perceptions and buying decisions. The John Barleycorn Society was started by a group of spirits journalists seeking to honor excellence in all facets of the industry. The journalists spent several years creating a comprehensive competition that became the John Barleycorn Awards. An elite team of authoritative and influential spirits journalists was selected to administer the flagship component of the Awards, a blind tasting competition destined to become the preeminent arbitrator of spirits taste, quality and character.