Everyone remembers college vodka. It came in a plastic jug with a Russian name splashed across the front. A fun stopper had to be removed before you could dump the contents into a tub of Kool-Aid. You barfed a little with every shot. Few alcoholic beverages can leave such an impression. But for all that was wrong with that vodka—and there was a lot—one thing that was always right was the price tag.
What if you could take the swill in one of those plastic jugs and easily transform it into something on the level of Ketel One? Sounds crazy, right? Well, there is a rumor that if you pour that cheap vodka through a Brita a few times it will transform into some seriously good booze. No, really. Now we’re no strangers to boozy experiments (See: here and here), so we decided to test it out.
The first thing worth mentioning is, you won’t want to use your filter again after you use it on some bottom shelf vodka, not unless you like a hint of Popov with your H2O. It is something to keep in mind, because it does mean you have to factor in an extra five bucks or so for a filter every time you decide to do this. Still, the numbers work, and you should come out ahead, assuming this boozy science experiment is even worth it.
With a Brita, a $15 jug of Popov brand vodka, and some Ketel One to compare it to, we began to filter our booze/paint thinner. It’s recommended that you do this at least a half-dozen times.
After seven runs through our Brita, we poured shots of the filtered Popov along side shots of unfiltered Popov. We’ll say this, there’s no question the smell is better. It doesn’t automatically transport us to a frat house basement. That’s a plus. It’s not like it comes out smelling like roses, but it does seem a bit more restrained and less offensive. Score one for the Brita.
The taste follows the nose. The filtered vodka absolutely tastes better than its unfiltered counterpart. All those harsh edges seem sanded down. We wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s pleasant, but it’s far more palatable than your standard jungle juice base. The real test, however, is whether or not it can hold a candle to some Ketel One. To do that, we conducted a blind taste test.
We’ll say this: most of us selected Ketel One as the superior vodka. We mostly agreed the Ketel One was superior. But we didn’t all choose the pricey bottle. There were a few who opted for the bottom shelf stuff that was filtered seven times. So while it wasn’t a victory for the Brita + Popov combo, there was enough of a difference to trick some of us, and even those who selected the Ketel One as the better vodka admitted it was pretty darn close.