Introducing: Jake O'Brien Murphy, Drinks Distilled Vodka Guide
Bartender, drinks writer, consultant and broadcaster (not to mention a very talented stand-up comedian in his spare time!) Jake O’Brien Murphy should be fast becoming a familiar face to you as one of our Drinks Distilled Spirits Guides.
Jake O'Brien Murphy is a bartender, writer and broadcaster. He has spent his entire professional career in hospitality with experience ranging from neighbourhood bars to some of the most critically recognised venues in the world, including the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, Three Sheets and Callooh Callay. Jake sits on the judging panel for the International Spirits Challenge where he is responsible for the entire spectrum of world vodka. Jake has been nominated for various personal awards, both for his writing and bartending.
Not only has he curated our vodka selection but he has been behind four of our 'How to Pick' spirits guides spanning mezcal, rum, tequila and vodka. We thought it was a about time we introduced you properly to Jake and his vodka selections!
Tell us about your selections
My first choice is Boatyard Vodka. Oh, goodness me this vodka is good. There’s a whack of flavour so forward, I’d suggest wearing a gum shield. It has more fudge than a Granny’s pantry, illuminated by bright pops of citrus that weave together to create a structurally divine drop. Boatyard’s sustainable ethos of field-to-bottle and use of only local, Irish wheat is what makes this organic vodka so exemplary. As a discerning drinker, it’s impossible to miss the ingrained qualities of a liquid that has been made with a conscious consideration of some of the finest raw materials available.
Next up I went for Belvedere Heritage 176. There’s so much character inherent in this liquid you could practically spread it on toast. Due to the presence of malted rye spirit in the blend, Heritage 176 can’t technically be considered a Polish vodka, but in a perfect world it would be my standout example. Made with a blend of 98% vodka and 2% malted rye spirit which is steeped, germinated and kiln fired at 176 degrees (hence the name), it’s a spectacular arm wrestle between the old world and the new world of vodka. All lubricated by a spirit full of cream, butterscotch and hot liquid fudge.
What are the most common misconceptions people have of vodka?
Vodka is a versatile product, not just a clear spirit. A superior Polish vodka for example can taste anywhere from clean and green with hints of pepper and grass, all the way through to buttery romantic notes you’d expect of a croissant. I implore anyone to sip and taste their way through the intrinsic differences in products, not all vodkas are the same and it’s a joy to find out why.
What are your top tips for picking vodka?
Always look for the raw material of your vodka. That’s the greatest indicator of quality you can have. If a bottle doesn’t tell you what is inside, it’s still technically vodka, but it isn’t good vodka. Watch out for off-notes too! Quality vodkas have an entire bouquet of aromas; from baked pastries all the way to vanillas and even vinous qualities. Bad vodka smells like it could be used to clean bullets.
What’s your top home bartending tip?
Buy yourself a thermos or double-walled flask. This is the quickest and most consistent way to have your favourite Martini at home. Just premix the drink to your specific expectations, keep it in the freezer overnight and pour straight into a frozen Martini glass.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy a vodka cocktail?
I drink Martinis wherever I go, but a bar where the bartender asks the right questions. Wet or dry? Olive or Twist? These are signposts of a good time ahead. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the intergalactically renowned Martinis at Dukes mixed by renowned Head Bartender Alessandro Palazzi and his team.