This trick makes a cheap bottle taste like premium vodka

You may not need to suffer through a budget bottle of vodka.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
3 min read

Filtered vodka, ready for tasting.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Everyone would love to be able to go to the store and pick up a premium vodka, but not everyone's budgets will allow for such an indulgence.

But there's good news for those who want to stock up on booze for the holidays. The lowest quality vodka can apparently be improved with something you probably already have in your kitchen: a water filtering pitcher.

I tested the trick to see if it works. Here's what happened.

Grab a water filtration pitcher

Good vodka is filtered five or more times usually using a charcoal filter. So, it's important to make sure that your water pitcher has a charcoal filter. I didn't already have a water filtering pitcher laying around, so I had to buy one. To make my test a little more scientific, I bought the store-brand pitcher and a name-brand pitcher. They were both around $8.

I also bought a $6 bottle of vodka, which was the cheapest I could find. I also bought a nicer bottle of vodka that was six times more expensive (it was a small bottle, too) to compare my filtered vodka to.

Filtering the vodka

To filter the vodka, I poured half of the cheap bottle of vodka into one pitcher and the other half into the other pitcher. When the vodka was done filtering, I poured each into separate clean containers and ran them through the filters, again. Overall, each batch got filtered five times.

Did it work?

Now for the tasting. According to my research (yes, I did real researching and not just a bunch of drinking), good vodka doesn't burn your tongue or throat.

I recruited my husband to help me taste-test each batch and then compare it to the good vodka. After explaining the criteria of good vodka, we tipped 'em back in the name of science.

First, we tried the vodka filtered by the store-brand pitcher. Winces and gagging insued. Though it wasn't as rough as the vodka before it was filtered, there was only a little improvement. At this point, I was pretty bummed and sure that the project had failed.

Next, we tried the vodka filtered by the name-brand pitcher. It was just a tad harder than drinking a glass of water. I was shocked. Vodka is my drink of choice and I've never tasted one this smooth. Complete success.

Finally, we compared the name-brand pitcher's filtered vodka to the more expensive vodka. The filtered vodka won, no contest.

I have to be honest, I thought this experiment would be a complete bust, but it really works. Be sure to filter the vodka at least five times and choose a good pitcher. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes and is totally worth it.

Why it works

The science behind this experiment is simple. Vodka companies typically filter vodka to improve flavor using activated charcoal, a component in many water pitcher filters. The filtering removes carbon-based impurities that cause the bad taste. The more you filter, the more impurities are removed, making the vodka taste a little better each time you filter it. Your water pitcher filter mimics this process by removing impurities from the vodka just like it removes impurities from water.