Making Bad Vodka Good?

July 27, 2011 1:45 pm 0 comments

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As with the majority of the adult population (and an alarming number of the underage population), we do enjoy a quality shot of vodka on special occasions. The keyword here of course – quality.

Whilst browsing through the depths of the internet, we came across an old (2004) post from a long abandoned site, which tackles this very issue -

Is it possible to make bad vodka good?

Their theory – by using a widely available water filter (such as the Brita Water Filter), is it possible to filter cheap vodka? The ideal result would be a smoother beverage without the nasty aftertaste. Cheap vodka is painful to drink, more likable to rubbing alcohol than the classic shot. We became very interested in this theory, which we share with you below…

Our theory is that a simple brita water filter can be used to make bad vodka, into good. In our case this meant turning a Vladimir™, into a Grey Goose™. At £11.09 for 1.75 litre (Grey Goose is 11.99 for the 350 ml), Vladimir is a steal. It is, however, painful to drink, has a repugnant aftertaste, posesses a bouquet reminiscent of rubbing alcohol. Our working theory was that these terrible qualities were caused by a lack of proper filtration, and that running our Vlad through a charcoal filter would remove some of the impurities causing these odors and flavors.


1. Bottle of cheap and/or nasty vodka. The cheapest price per volume was selected from the liquor store. In our case, this turned out to be “Vladimir Vodka™”.
2. Bottle of control vodka. A bottle of Grey Goose™ was grabbed at the last second while on the checkout line.
3. Science Crackers! These were essential in cleansing our palates between tastings. NOT to be overlooked! For this, we used your easily obtainable standard (err, premium) science crackers.
4. One standard Brita filter. I believe this cost roughly $15 at the supermarket. It probably should be used after the experiment to filter water.
5. Shot glasses. The shot glasses should be of different type, so as to be more easily able to distinguish between the filtered, and the control vodka.
6. One “Science funnel”, to pour the filtered vodka back into its bottle.
7. Coffee Grounds. It is a not so well known fact that coffee grounds will clear your nose of a scent. We used them to clear our noses to compare the smells of the filtered to the control vodka.


The Method for this experiment was very simple, and enjoyable, except for the waiting parts.

We would simply pour the entire bottle of vodka through the filter, wait for it to drip through, and then funnel it back into the bottle for easy pouring. We then poured off small amounts into the shot glasses for tasting. Additionally, we had shot glasses full of the control vodka for comparison. Each scienticion would taste and smell the filtered vodka. They then ate a “science cracker” and sniffed some coffee, and then taste/smell the Grey Goose. The recording scientician wrote down their reactions, and the entire process was repeated. Also recorded was the start and end time of the filtering process. We noted a loss of vodka through spillage (for my science homies).


Our results were taken by our ‘reporting scientician” who diligently recorded all of our filtration times, and taste comments.

8:43 – we take out first sip.
Fletcher notes that “The world hates him”.
Ken comments on both the cheapness, and the nastyness of the Vladimir.
I was apparently only able to say, “oh god”, and “vile”.

8:45 – The first filtration begins
(note, we had a misfire as the filter was not seated properly, so…

8:46 – The first filtration begins again.
Ken notes that the brita box tells us that the brita will reduce various elements which can cause
“long term liver or kidney damage”. Hooray, we all think.

8:54 – We notice that 1.75 liters takes a really long time to filter.
I noticed that the vodka ‘looked’ better. Yay for Subjective Opinions.

9:00 – I comment on the fact that it’s STILL GOING.

9:03 – First filtration finished. Second tasting.
Ken notes that we’ve spilled some on the carpet (for my homies)
Fletcher notices little bubbles, which we later decide are probably due to pouring the vodka back into the bottle, through the funnel.
Fletcher – “I don’t think it’s AS bad.” and “I was full well prepared to cry, and I didn’t, but it still hurts.”
Adam – “Less offensive.”
Ken – “Smoother.”
All – Still has a bad aftertaste.

9:06 2nd filtering begins
At this point, the vodka appears to be filtering faster.

9:19 – 2nd filtering ends
A decrease in the horrid smell is clear.
Ken – “My god, that is smooth”
Fletcher – “Not bad at all”
Adam – “Much better than it originally was”
We also noticed that at this point, the Ketel One has a stronger odor.
Ken also decided at this point that he preferred the filtered Vlad to the control vodka.

9:30 – 3rd filtering begins


9:44 – End of 3rd filter cycle.
At this point the Vladimir has pretty much the same odor that it did before.
Adam – “Even better, less noxious aftertaste.”
Fletcher – “Less aftertaste” and “Chill it, and you could probably fool most people.”
Ken – “At this time, I prefer this over Ketel One.”

9:50 – 4th filtration begins.
(Our humble scienticians at this point go to the store for snacks. Filtering Vodka is hungry work.)

10:04 – 4th filtration done.
Possibly even less scent.
Adam – “Only slightly better, but still improved.”
Fletcher agrees.
Ken – “Tessa (my cat) licked the glass, and didn’t die.”
The scienticians agreed that after 4 filtrations, the Vladimir was smoother than Ketel one.

10:18 – 5th filtration begins
In order to remind myself, and possibly for self flagellation purposes, I tried the baseline Vladimir again. I gagged. Fun.
We decided that perhaps we shouldn’t have been quite so conservative with our tasting portions. I mean, what fun is that?

10:31 5th filtration done
Adam – “Very little smell” and “wow it’s good now, absolutely no aftertaste.”
Ken – “Enjoyable.”
Fletcher – “Almost no flavor now.”


10:35 – 6th filtration begins
Fletcher spills his shot of control vodka. Tsk tsk.

10:49 – 6th filtration done
At this point it was clear that there were no vast improvements over the last 2 filtrations.
Adam – “Stability achieved”
Ken “We’re there. Either we’ve burnt out the filter, or reached the point of equilibrium”

We decided that we should try this filtration chilled, so I broke out my trusty shaker and some ice.
Shake-a shake, and pour.
Comments on chilled:
Ken – “Wow” and “goes down like water.”
Fletcher – “Quite Comfortable.”
and I gave it a boring “Good.”

Interesting stuff. Have you tried this? Does this work? We are planning a experiment (with video) over the next month, but would love to hear your opinions!



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