BET Vodka: The Taste Test
Comparing, Rating Drinks with BET and Classic Vodkas
BY MARTIN SCHLEGEL
In the 19th century, Henry Oxnard invented a modern way to use sugar beets – rather than traditional potatoes – to make vodka.
The discovery of this sugar beet vodka by college students (possibly this reporter and a friend) here in the heart of sugar beet-growing country, necessitated a taste test to see how it stacks up against name-brand vodka.
BET Vodka is the name of the Midwest-based vodka made from beets instead of potatoes. Inspired by Oxnard’s invention, Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling are the masterminds behind the bottle. They created the spirit while maintaining the local element.
BET Vodka is sold at only one downtown Fargo-Moorhead location, 99 Bottles in Moorhead.
Smirnoff retails between $15.99 and 17.99, while BET Vodka retails between $32.99 and 34.99. The price difference could be a major turn-off for vodka drinkers. Yet, the delicious taste and sweet smell yield the increase in price for the consumer.
John Miller, a Minnesota State University Moorhead communication studies major, helped with the taste-test.
The setup for the semi-official taste-test: Four mixed drinks and one shot using the name-brand vodka Smirnoff and BET Vodka.
Each drink was made to the taste-testers’ liking, and each drink was rated on one criterion: overall taste of the drink. The drinks were not rated based on how good the mixes were.
Other variations of the following drinks were not taken into account, which leaves the future vodka drinker left to determine whether the drink as a whole works or whether a new mixer should be used.
From the very beginning, our inspiration was to craft a genuine sipping experience that brings people together. Life is about the people you meet, gatherings among family and friends, and the stories you share. Pioneering something new is never an easy journey — it definitely wasn't for us — but when you have a deeper purpose that you believe in it propels you forward and past the obstacles. In this new year we're thrilled to bring our premium-pour vodka to life. May it bring you many sincere, social and simplified moments worth sharing. Cheers, Ben & Jerad
Bloody Mary – Using Master of Mixes 5 Pepper Mix
First up is the Bloody Mary.Upon tasting the BET Bloody Mary, it was obvious which vodka was better suited. Both taste-testers agreed. The BET Vodka tasted incredibly better than the Bloody Mary using Smirnoff.
The BET Vodka gave the Bloody Mary a smoother taste. The vodka was less noticeable, making the drink more about the mix.
“The BET (Vodka) went down better,” Miller said. “The aroma was more pleasant as well. It smelled good while tasting good.”
The BET Vodka alone had a pleasing scent to it, so it’s no surprise the smell assisted in the great taste of the Bloody Mary.
The one problem with the Bloody Mary, and to some extent a caution to those wanting to try this at home, was the remnants of the pepper mix settling at the bottom of the glass. The last few sips were agreeably too spicy.
- BET Vodka wins over Smirnoff
Bay Breeze – Using Ocean Spray pineapple and cranberry juice
Next up is a more fruity drink, a Bay Breeze. This drink went well with the near 60-degree February day, as it should be consumed on a deck, sitting in the shade.
The Smirnoff won this round, but not by much.
Miller said it was pretty even and there wasn’t a big difference between the tastes of the two vodkas.
There was, however, a slight difference between the two drinks. The BET Vodka was less prominent in the Bay Breeze. It did not stand out as much as the Smirnoff.
While some might argue the decision, Smirnoff won this round because the subtle taste of vodka was slightly more appealing.
- Smirnoff wins over BET Vodka
Vodka Red Bull – Using Red Bull
There was some disagreement when it came to which vodka tasted better in this drink. Miller said Smirnoff because “it’s a classic drink and I think classic vodka out-tastes others.”
“I’m used to bars using a name-brand vodka such as Smirnoff,” Miller said.
The taste of BET Red Bull was nearly identical but offered a more soothing aftertaste. The Smirnoff Red Bull lacked the pleasing aftertaste (in the opinion of this writer).
For this drink, the outcome was determined by unwavering loyalty to classic vodka and thirst for a better oomph.
The final decision on this drink should be up to the consumer. If someone is willing to try something new with a minute difference in taste, there’s no reason not to use BET Vodka in this drink.
Screwdriver – Using Ocean Spray orange juice
This classic drink went down with little argument. Despite this, the tastes of a Smirnoff Screwdriver and BET Vodka Screwdriver was nearly identical.
No one had any damaging remarks toward either vodka. Yet, the intrigue of the BET Vodka won us over.
“With regular vodka you know what you’re going to get,” Miller said. “The BET Vodka added a unique flavor that I haven’t had before.”
Miller also said the BET Vodka’s taste in this drink was intriguing, but not necessarily better.
Again, like the Vodka Red Bull, there is some personal interpretation which might sway someone to like BET Vodka more than the Smirnoff. The new take on a Screwdriver was the deciding factor in determining a winner.
- BET Vodka wins over Smirnoff
Shots – Self-explanatory
The last drink in the taste-test was a half shot of each vodka. Since vodka shots aren’t a frequent occurrence, it was a questionable decision as to whether taking a shot was an efficacious way to properly determine which vodka was better. After debate, the decision was made to take a shot because “What better way to judge vodka than taste it straight up?”.
“It was what you expect,” Miller said. “Neither went down that smoothly. Overall, it didn’t taste that good.”
The general consensus was the mixed drinks were a much better way to judge the vodkas and a better experience. For the sake of picking one winner for the shot, BET Vodka wins the final round based on sweetness.
- BET Vodka wins over Smirnoff
"A surprisingly lush mouthfeel—it’s thick & robust, delivering a sweetness that dominates the front of the sip." thanks @LiquorBoySLP!
— BĒT Vodka (@BETvodka) February 14, 2017
The BET Vodka made some drinks better while it had little difference in other drinks.
- Bloody Mary: with BET Vodka 7.5/10, with Smirnoff 5/10
- Bay Breeze: with Smirnoff 8.25/10, with BET Vodka 7.5/10
- Vodka Red Bull: with BET 7.5/10, with Smirnoff 7.5/10
- Screwdriver: with BET Vodka 8.5/10, with Smirnoff 8.25/10
- Shot: with BET Vodka 5.5/10, with Smirnoff 5/10
Like any mixed drink, it could be prepared to better suit someone’s liking. While the preparation of the drinks was not taken into account, it could have varied the results. Yet, the overarching opinion was to use BET Vodka with Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers.
The taste of name-brand vodka has a bland feeling to it. If someone wants to try a product new and more flavorful, BET Vodka, while more expensive, is worth the price.
(Martin Schlegel is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism at MSUM where he was sports editor of The Advocate; he writes for “Puckett’s Pond,” is a sports clerk at The Forum, and hopes to be a beat writer for an MLB team. Contact him at email@example.com.)