There are only a handful of organic vodkas on the market, and I think only three cucumber-flavored vodkas on the market. All of the cucumber vodkas are also organic vodkas and all of them were released within a few months of each other. What does that mean? They must battle for supremacy!
It's the Organic Cucumber Vodka Showdown!
The three contenders are:
- Square One Cucumber, clocking in at 40% alcohol, made from rye-based vodka.
- Crop Harvest Earth Cucumber, weighing 35% alcohol, made from 'certified organic American grain'
- Rain Cucumber Lime, at 35% alcohol and coming from organic white corn. The label also lists organic sugar and sodium citrate as ingredients.
Round One: Neat
I sipped each of these blind, but it was pretty clear who was who. The Rain Cucumber-Lime smells more like lime than cucumber, with a juicy watermelon aspect. All of the Rain vodka flavors are intensely flavorful, bordering on perfumey, and this is no exception- though to me it seems a little less dramatic than the lavender lemonade and honey mango melon flavors.
The Square One tastes solidly like cucumber-infused vodka. I've done this infusion at home and yep, they nailed it. It tastes a bit more like the skin and outside of the cucumber than the inside. As we'll see in the next section, there are disadvantages to this.
Crop is thicker and sweeter than Square One, which you'd expect given its 35% ABV. The cucumber flavor doesn't taste as natural to me, and the flavor doesn't linger on the palate nearly as long.
Round Two: One ounce vodka, two ounces soda water, one large ice cube
Again, the Rain vodka stood out here. The lime gives off that powdery aspect I associate with Rose's Lime Juice. On its own the Rain tastes like perfumed vodka, but in a drink the flavor opens up. It's not my favorite and it's not natural-tasting, but it's drinkable and a no-brainer refresher.
I thought Crop vodka would lose a lot of its flavor with dilution, but it wasn't so bad. It had a realistic cucumber flavor, and it came to life a bit more with dilution than it did on its own. Again it was sweeter than the Square One.
The Square One, unfortunately, didn't taste as good as I wanted it to. I'm pretty sensitive to the flavor of wilted vegetation in spirits (I've never had a mint simple syrup I could stand) and to me, this flavor tasted like the cucumber was starting to go off. It still tasted natural, but too natural.
Realizing I had a mini of the Square One Cucumber in the house, I broke that open to compare with my big open bottle. I went back and forth several times and concluded that if the flavor changed over time, it wasn't as significant as I'd thought.
So then I repeated the vodka-soda experiment with 3 ounces of soda to once ounce of vodka. Here the Crop flavor fell dead and pointlessly flat, where the Square One tasted very cucumbery, though still not as fresh and crisp as I would like it. I think that's what's missing in all of these: a natural crispness.
The Rain Cucumber Lime is more in line with a traditional flavored vodka than an organic flavor. It doesn't taste natural, which is not to say it tastes bad, but it's not on the same playing field as these two other vodkas.
The Square One Cucumber tasted the most natural throughout, but perhaps too natural. It was a bit intense on its own and with a small amount of mixer, but performed nicely when the dilution increased. The Crop Cucumber was delicious until I diluted it too much and then it was the least pleasing.
Pricewise, the Square One is going for around 30 bucks online, compared with 20 for the other brands.
If you want something cheap and dumb to mix with soda water in large quantities, Rain wins. For sipping neat or in booze-heavy cocktails, the Crop will work well and you can probably cut back on the sugar in your other ingredients. And for more sophisticated and natural-tasting cocktails, go with the Square One.
I guess everybody wins. So much for the showdown.