Skyy Vodka is one of the best-known vodkas and for good reason. It is both affordable and available almost everywhere, it's also a fairly decent vodka given the price. This is a vodka that can easily become your everyday drink and it works nicely in a variety of simple mixed drinks.
The Changing Skyy Infusions
Where Skyy shines is in their flavored vodka offerings, known within the brand as Skyy Infusions. The portfolio has changed considerably over the years as the flavored vodka market has itself changed, grown, and become more diverse. Some of the best Skyy Vodkas like Melon and Ginger are no longer available. What you will find are flavors like Coastal Cranberry and Honeysuckle Apple.
While change is not always a bad thing, in this case, it's a bit disappointing. Skyy Ginger was fantastic and a personal favorite for that particular flavor.
It also seems like the brand is chasing the trends and leaving behind the basics. By looking at Skyy's history, it's almost as if you can no longer compete with a simply flavored vodka that has a simple name like 'grape' or 'vanilla.' Instead, the market (in theory) requires 'Moscato Grape' and 'Vanilla Bean.'
Marketing is marketing, vodka certainly follows the markets, and Skyy is very good at marketing.
The Making of Skyy Vodka
Skyy is a grain-based vodka that is run through a four-column distillation process and is filtered three times. The grains are sourced from the American Midwest though the company does not disclose any further details about what those grains are or go deeper into the vodka's production.
When it comes to the vodkas in the Skyy Infusions, each is infused with 'natural flavors.' The majority are true to the flavor on the label and the label actually reads "Vodka infused with natural raspberry flavors" or the like
On a few occasions, it seems to be a bit more complicated than the single flavoring. For Skyy flavors like Bartlett Pear, Honeysuckle Apple, Moscato Grape, Texas Grapefruit, Tropical Mango, and Vanilla Bean, the label statement is more mysterious. These read something to the effect of: "Vodka infused with Honeycrisp apple and other natural flavors."
These 'other flavors' are interesting though not necessarily a bad thing. Some flavors naturally need a little help when it comes to placing them in vodka though what those are is rarely mentioned when it comes to Skyy. For instance, the product description for Moscato Grape says the grape is joined by "stone fruit on a tropical journey." Stone fruit? Is that a peach, an apricot, and what about this 'tropical' aspect.
It can all be quite confusing and if you like to know exactly what goes into the vodka you're drinking, Skyy may not be your best option.
What Are Skyy's Current Flavors
My experience tells me that the list of Skyy Infusions is subject to change and it could do so at any time. Whether any of the current offerings are the same or similar to an older counterpart of the same flavor is yet another question left unanswered.
As of 2017, Skyy Vodka includes the following flavors:
- Bartlett Pear
- Blood Orange
- Coastal Cranberry
- Georgia Peach
- Honeycrisp Apple
- Moscato Grape
- Pacific Blueberry
- Passion Fruit
- Texas Grapefruit
- Tropical Mango
- Vanilla Bean
- Wild Strawberry
Those flavors that we are missing and have been discontinued are the simplified versions. These include the Ginger and Melon already mentioned as well as Berry, Grape, Orange, and Vanilla. If you come across an older cocktail recipe calling for any of these, there is a suitable substitute available either from Skyy or another vodka brand.
For ginger, you will have to look for smaller brands like Myer Farm and Heritage Distilling. Most of the big brands don't tackle the flavor, which is a shame because it is fantastic. You might be better off infusing your own.
Melon vodkas are a different story and many brands of vodka offer this flavor. Smirnoff, Van Gogh, and Grey Goose are among them.
Really, Is Skyy Vodka Any Good?
This is a difficult question to answer because I am personally a self-professed vodka snob and Skyy Ginger was the only vodka from the brand that truly impressed me. Yet, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, many vodka drinkers do enjoy Skyy and it is their go-to brand.
Do I classify Skyy as a premium vodka? No. It is affordably priced and a nice vodka for around $20: it's a value vodka. Yet, the vodka market is extremely competitive and I would dare to say that there are similarly priced vodkas that outshine Skyy. Deep Eddy and New Amsterdam may not have the flavor line-up of Skyy, but the vodka is considerably smoother. For big brands, I personally lean toward Smirnoff or Svedka.
Yet, taste is always subjective, isn't it? If you find that you enjoy Skyy, drink it and don't worry about what others think. What I do encourage you to do, however, is to break from the brand for a minute and explore some of your other options.
There are times (and we're all guilty of it) where we become too loyal to one brand and forget that there are others out there to try. The world of cocktails is designed for constant exploration and discovery and it's a shame to stick the familiar.