I generally won't drink any vodka that costs under $15. I dislike their taste, even in cocktails. Plus, they tend to more often cause headaches the next morning. Yet I must change my thinking as I have found an extreme value vodka which is going to cause me to change my vodka shopping habits.
Sobieski Vodka is a Polish vodka (80 proof) made from golden Dankowski Rye and crystalline water from Oligocene springs. It is continuously distilled with the objective of producing a pure and smooth vodka. Belvedere Vodka, a good premium vodka, is also Polish and made from Rye.
Sobieski Vodka derives its name from King Jan III Sobieski (1629 - 1696), regarded as the last great King of Poland. He is "...revered today in part because his fearless, indomitable spirit represents what has always been such an inseparable part of the Polish national character. A man of intellect, he had an uncommon knowledge of foreign culture that would impress even a geek with a broadband connection. A true Renaissance man, Sobieski's passion and warmth were revealed in the hundreds of letters exchanged with his wife, Marysienka. His lack of royal blood didn't prevent him from earning the admiration and respect of both his countrymen and enemies - his people elected him King, and his opponents referred to him as "The Lion of Poland." And at a time when it seemed certain that the invading Ottoman Empire would conquer all of Europe, he gathered and led an army to defeat a force nearly double in size at the Battle of Vienna. This earned him the moniker, "The Savior of Western Civilization."
I tasted this vodka both straight and in a few cocktails. Straight, I found it smooth and clean, without any bite or unpleasant aftertaste. It had a very neutral flavor and it is something I could drink just over ice. In the cocktails, it excelled and my family and friends who drank some cocktails with me all thought this was an excellent vodka. When the bottle ran out, and I used a different vodka (which cost around $20), they all could tell the difference and fervently wished there was more of the Sobieski.
What is the most surprising and impressive aspect of Sobieski Vodka is its cost. A 750ml bottle sells for around $11! What an extreme value. This tastes better than vodkas that cost twice the price. Instead of paying $20 or so for a bottle of Stolichnaya or Absolut to make cocktails, I'll buy two bottles of the Sobieski.
Though I could drink the Sobieski just on ice, I still do prefer Chopin and Stoli Elit as they seem to have some flavor that was lacking in the Sobieski when you drink it straight. But for cocktails, the Sobieski is truly a king, especially at its very cheap price. It gets my highest recommendation.