Yesterday’s New York Times Proof piece on vodka and downpouring (i.e., filling empty premium booze bottles with rotgut) struck a nerve with a Friend of the Food Chain, a recovering vodka drinker, now happily exploring the wonders of gin, tequila, and bourbon:

“I do believe that vodka is vodka and that those high-priced brands in the fancy bottles are just a form of downpouring at the distillery level and are not worth the price,” wrote author Bryan McDonald.

That prompted the FotFC to send along a Sam’s Wines & Spirits newsletter from last month, a remarkable rant that bears passing on:

We are convinced that the two greatest scams of the last decade are
boutique bottled waters and luxury Vodka, with Vodka essentially being
the spirit world’s version of water, where its chief attributes are
its neutral character and the ability to mix easily with other
ingredients and fade into the background. In fact, the last thing you
want a Vodka to do is have any distinct flavors. It’s fine if there is
a pleasant and faint scent or ethereal flavors, but any obvious notes
are considered flaws. So why then are people paying lots of
hard-earned cash on what is essentially the simplest of products? In a


Put this odorless, flavorless spirit in a beautiful frosted glass
bottle, have it made in France, advertise the heck out of it and
charge an incredible price and, before you know it, you have created a
sensation. The genius is that each Vodka is made EXACTLY like all
other Vodkas: at a huge industrial distillery and is made for EXACTLY
the same cost as the “cheap stuff.” The marketers are only slick
enough to dress it up and create mystique around their new
“Ultra-premium” Vodka. The creators of this type of Vodka (and so many
more have followed their lead: “Hey let’s hire a young, hip
entertainment mogul to hype our Vodka and charge $30 for it!”). These
marketers must have been have read Hans Christian Andersen’s “The
Emperor’s New Clothes” and created their business plan with it in