My favourite vodkas are definitely potato vodkas, but a close second come vodkas made from sugar beet. It sounds strange, I know, but the beet vodkas I’ve tried have all tasted surprisingly smooth. There’s one sold in the UK and made in Scotland called Glen’s Vodka, and when I want an affordable vodka to use as a mixer, that’s my go-to choice when I’m in the UK.
So I was pleased to be sent a sample of BET Vodka, made from sugar beets from a farming cooperative in the Red River Valley in Minnesota – and yes, the name is pronounced ‘beet’ not ‘bet’. And I know you think The Vodka Guy reclines here at Vodka Towers being swamped with bottles of his favourite spirit, but many companies send out a tasting sample, like the kind of miniature you’ll be served on a plane, and from that you have to sniff and taste and deliver your lofty verdict.
The guys behind the company are Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling, who met at a brewery networking event. Poling was a keen home brewer and distiller, and the two decided that as the craft brewing market was already booming, they shouldn’t jump on a bandwagon but show a bit of ‘pioneering spirit’, and make a vodka. They also wanted it to be a spirit that reflected the local produce and communities. They also discovered that Minnesota is the sugar beet capital of the USA, yet no-one there was making vodka from it. Result!
The partners decided not to distil the vodka themselves but to concentrate on marketing it. They sourced their sugar beets and shipped them to the 45th Parallel Distillery in Wisconsin to do the actual distilling.
But ideas and ideals and sourcing and processes are only part of the story. What matters to the buyer is very basic: what does it taste like? The answer is that it tastes really smooth. Take a sniff of the vodka, fresh from the freezer (which is how I prefer to keep them before sampling) and the result is really neutral. Which is how vodka is meant to be. I’m not getting citrus or spice or liquorice… I’m not getting anything.
Taste the vodka, though, and the experiences roll in on the tongue. There’s a surprisingly lush and thick mouth-feel, and hints of citrus and peppery spice, balanced by a little sweet vanilla taste too. It’s remarkably sippable.
Obviously vodka made from sugar beets from Minnesota and distilled in Wisconsin is not going to have the cachet of a vodka made from grain grown in Siberia and triple-distilled and filtered eight times over Swarovski crystals, but you know what – this tastes damn good to me.
BET Vodka Serving Suggestion
The recommended way of serving BET Vodka is just the way I like a good vodka to be served – neat. The company does recommend adding 3-4 drops of orange bitters and garnishing it with a lemon peel, though, and the addition of that tiny bit of citrus does give the vodka just a little zing.