Despite being the most widely consumed category of spirit in the United States, vodka remains wildly misunderstood. Ask many a casual drinker what it’s made from and they’re likely to say potatoes. In fact, it can be distilled from any fermentable base ingredient. Ask many craft connoisseurs what it tastes like and they’re likely to say that’s a trick question: the neutral grain spirit doesn’t have a flavor. In fact, in 2021, the federal labeling authority removed the qualifier that it must be distilled “without distinctive taste.”
In reality, there’s actually some interesting movement occurring in the craft vodka space these days. But not all craft vodka is crafted equally, of course. Which is underscored by the collective results of prominent judgings throughout the year. Certain brands and bottlings tend to rise to the top. Their names get shortlisted over and over again, so they begin to stand apart in a dauntingly dense sector. Clearly, they must be doing something different, and doing something right.
And that’s true in multiple ways for GO3, a craft vodka distilled in the heart of Houston, Texas. Just barely a year in existence, and the brand has already nabbed the prize for Vodka of the Year at the 2023 USA Spirits Ratings. In fact, in scoring 98 out of 100 points, there was actually only one other product across all categories which scored higher.
How did this $30 premium product achieve such a stunning accolade? Well, in vodka production, one of the easiest ways to find greatness is to start with great ingredients. In the case of GO3, this list includes a proprietary mix of Texas sweet corn, sweet potatoes, and russet potatoes. The finished distillate is proofed down with pure glacial melt from the Teton Mountains.
Then there are the essential elements of distillation, rectification, and resting the liquor to come away with crisp flavor characteristics and pleasing mouthfeels. GO3 attains a full body, brimming with butteriness and even a hint of butterscotch in its lengthy finish. For anyone out there still pigeonholing vodka as a flavorless, odorless offering, a compelling counterpoint is served in each pour of this 80-proof sipping spirit. And yes, you can enjoy it solo—neat, or on the rocks.
There’s also an inspirational story beyond the liquid, itself. It was started by a group of friends and entrepreneurs who wanted to use the spirit as a means to enhance their community. The name “GO3” refers to General Orders Number 3, the declaration read in Texas on June 19, 1865, formally ending the institution of slavery—a historic moment now commemorated by the Juneteenth national holiday. In service of such, the founders of the brand have committed to donating a percentage of all sales to historically Black colleges and universities. Their stated mission is to support freedom, equality, education and economic freedom.
GO3 even sports the tagline, “Independence never tasted so good.” Now the brand is amassing the medals to prove it.