You may not have heard of Success Vodka until now, but it has a pedigree any vodka drinker should be familiar with. The lead distiller, Jeff Thurmon, isn’t new to the game; he first helped develop a little vodka out of Texas called Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Jeff worked with Tito from 1998 – 2001 while Tito’s was first kicking off, right before the vodka bested 71 high-priced vodkas to win the San Francisco World Spirit Competition.
Like any craftsman, Jeff had some other ideas he wanted to investigate. Tito’s aimed to be the everyman vodka that was, as history tells, “so smooth a girl could drink it straight.” On the other end of the spectrum is craft vodka that delivers a complex flavor profile targeted at vodka aficionados. Unlike Tito’s, Success seems aimed toward the craft end of the vodka spectrum.
The familiar copper pot stills and small-batch processes are used in Success, but corn is replaced with organic Italian wheat. The corn used in Tito’s Handmade Vodka is easy to distill, but wheat, in Thurmon’s words, “delivers a euphoric experience.” The vodka is then filtered six times to remove esters and congeners.
All of this to say, the folks behind Success Vodka are skilled craftsmen trying to make a super-premium vodka at an affordable price.
Like many great vodkas, Success eschews the American vodka paradigm. It reaches beyond the expectations of flavorlessness, bringing a complex flavor profile that travels from sweet to an almost almond finish that takes several seconds after the swallow to come to its fullness. With no unpleasant burn, Success reads like a small batch vodka. Those that appreciate the craft of distilling vodka will enjoy the intricate journey that is a sip of Success vodka.
Pouring Success over ice and sipping over a period of time is the sweet spot, though. The intensity mellows, much like bourbon, making the vodka easier to process for casual drinking.
Either way you like it, the care and craft behind Success is palpable in every sip.
Small batch style vodkas, in my experience, greatly enhance the flavor of cocktails, so I tried a few of the simple cocktails that I enjoy the most.
Success did well in my current favorite cocktail, the ice pick, comprised of sweet tea and vodka. The vodka brings out the darker flavors of the tea and is otherwise transparent. The mixture is very easy to drink, and is one of the best vodkas I’ve had for this cocktail.
Another cocktail that I’ve grown to like recently is a screwdriver with a splash of pomegranate. Success knocks down the sweetness of the orange juice, allowing the tartness of the pomegranate to pop more than a typical flavorless vodka. This makes for a nice variation on the cocktail.
Success Vodka is anything but typical. The rich flavors of the straight vodka aren’t for the casual club-goer looking for an easy buzz. Success is for those that care about what they drink, favoring an experience with the vodka over a sugary cocktail that hides the vodka. If this sounds like you, keep an eye out for Success.