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Spirit of New Year

So christmas and new year have come and gone and rather like the morning after the night before, it's time to survey the damage. The damage I'm talking about is, of course, to your bank balance and credit card. Many give up the gargle altogether during January and others cut down, but even if your volume remains constant there's pressure to cut down on costs to pay that credit card or gas bill.

The supermarkets have plenty of good wines for under a tenner, under seven even, which I'll write about soon but during the break I put budget vodkas to the test.

The whole point about vodka, if you believe the ads, is that it's oh so pure and so you'd expect them all to taste the same -- of nothing. But I've done tastings of brands in the past and found that they are not all the same. Some have attractive, subtle, smooth creamy flavours and others are fiery.

I was expecting the cheap stuff to be at the raw end of the spectrum. But I was wrong. I rounded up a selection of supermarket own brands and was frankly shocked at how good they were. There genuinely wasn't one I found too coarse or fiery.

Aside from being kind to your credit card, these bargain buys can be used to make trendy flavoured vodkas by simply steeping your favourite ingredient in a jar of vodka for a few days, as I did, for example, with toffees and then some glacier mint sweets.