Maybe you don’t like vodka. Maybe you were subjected to Popov one too many times in college, or maybe you’r palate’s been a bit spoiled by the bourbon and craft beer booms. But a huge global population absolutely loves the stuff. Like, millions upon millions of people knocking back millions upon millions of bottles, cocktails, and shots of the stuff.
We’re not going to try to convert you—no liquor proselytizing here. In fact we’re keeping our opinions about vodka entirely to ourselves. (Though, for god’s sake, try a gin martini sometime, they’re far superior.) Here we’re simply presenting a list of the top selling vodka brands in the world, per 2015 data (since, well, 2016 vodka consumption is still ongoing…) Many of the brands will seem unfamiliar, because U.S. liquor stores tend to stock up on stuff like Smirnoff, Svedka, and Grey Goose. If you can find any of the unfamiliar bottles, it might be worthwhile to do some taste testing. They’re high on the list for a reason, right?
1 – Smirnoff
A Russian brand, brainchild of Pytor Smirnov, who served his vodka to the Tsar before being kicked out of Russia. Hey, if it’s good enough for a Tsar…
2 – Absolut
You may remember all those commercials (Absolut Psycho?) from the 90s, but Absolut—a Swedish vodka—was founded in 1879 by Lars Olssen Smith (who, as it happens, actually invented fractional distilling).
3 – Khortytsa
A Ukranian vodka, named after the fantasy book-ready and archaeologically rich island of Khortytsya, it’s harder to find in the States. But worth a search—smoother and fruity, as most grain-based vodkas tend to be.
4 – Khlibnyi Dar
Another Ukranian bottle (go, Ukraine!) made from fermented cereal grains, supposedly with notes of honey, bread, and a bit of fruit. Also not an easy find in the U.S.
5 – Zubrowka
Definintely a special vodka—and (hooray!) widely available in the States. Unique among vodkas for its flavor profile, which can range from notes of woodruff and coconut to the signature Bison grass (which is added to the bottle as a tincture, giving it a slight greenish yellow hue).
6 – Pyat Ozer
No surprise another Russian vodka would make the top of the charts. No, you can’t buy it, but you can marvel that it’s really considered a sipping vodka, with hints of dried fruit and a bit of spicy heat on the finish.
7 – Svedka
You probably know the name Svedka, and/or have seen their terrifying robot mascot. Also charcoal-filtered, and near flavorless when served cold, though the texture can be silky and rich on the tongue, with maybe just a hint of sweet and spice on the finish.
8 – Krupnik
Available in the States, but on a limited basis. Krupnik is arguably more well known for their liqueurs, especially the honey variety, but this is actually the best-selling vodka in all of Poland.
9 – Skyy Vodka
An even more American vodka—the grains are grown in what we assume is idyllic Midwestern farmland. The basic bottle is quadruple-distilled and triple-filtered, sold at a baseline 80 proof (though other bottlings like the Skyy 90 go even higher).
10 – Grey Goose
Ah, the fancy French vodka with decades of history. Actually, it’s a relatively young vodka (born in 1996) and the brainchild of an American businessman looking to compete with Absolut. The wheat used to make it is specially grown in Picardy, France. Plus, the lovely bottle.
11 – Medoff Vodka
A Ukrainian vodka that’s grain-based and ridiculously cheap (around $8 per bottle?). It’s unique in that it’s actually made with propolis, a bee pollen residue, that supposedly creates a smoother mouthfeel.
12 – Magic Moments Vodka
Triple distilled, described as variously creamy and citrusy, with maybe a hint of spice. Also a name that sounds like a Lifetime Movie. (Not one of the one’s about betrayal or deadly babysitters.)
13 – Belenkaya
Maximum purity is the name of the game here. In addition to a nine-step purification process, Russian Belenkaya vodka is actually filtered through 13 feet of charcoal (which, if you know anything about Tennessee whiskey, means a smoother, more purified final product).
14 – Vodka Morosha
Another Ukrainian vodka, not heavily complex but serviceable. Fairly light and silky on the tongue with a warming finish. Drink it nice and cold. If you can find it. Which, alas, you probably can’t.
15 – Stolichnaya
You’ve seen this bottle before. Hard to miss with the classic red label. Affectionately known as “Stoli” by its adoring or intoxicated fans, it’s grain-based and quadruple distilled, light but leaving not a ton for your taste buds to play with. Very cheap, very available.
16 – Russian Standard
Also cheap, also widely available, also quadruple distilled. But Russian Standard does distinguish itself a couple ways. Wheat-based and distilled with softer glacial water, it’s made with a recipe from none other than Period Table creator, Dmitri Mendeleev.
17 – Finlandia
Made with more glacial spring water, Finlandia’s actually barley-based. That doesn’t drastically differentiate the flavor from a grain-based vodka, but you do get a nicely smooth sipping vodka.
18 – Burnett’s
Apparently they make other stuff in Kentucky besides bourbon. Like this vodka, which actually comes in a dizzying range of 37 flavors.
19 – Dobry Medved
We don’t know a ton about this Russian Vodka, except that its sales have skyrocked in the past few years, up a whopping 173% . Clearly that has us a bit intrigued as to how it tastes…
20 – Ciroc
Diddy’s vodka, yes, but it’s probably also popular for its own reasons. Made from snap frost French grapes, it’s supposedly smoother and a bit silkier, with some citrus and a hint of anise if we’re lookin’ real hard.