GNS or NGS is the holy ghost of the booze world. My comfort is this blasphemous metaphor comes from the complete lack of definition and overwhelming pervasive nature of this spirit.
Grain Neutral Spirit or Neutral Grain spirit, is an industrial product distilled from anything or a mix of things. The most likely culprits are corn, sugar cane and beets. These are chosen because of their high sugar content and their rock bottom prices. NGS is eponymously neutral. It is distilled up to 190 proof or 95% alcohol by volume to ensue maximum efficiency of distillation and flavorlessness. It is an industrial product, there were you in Brazil, would be used to fuel a car or if you were in the Navy, would be used to clean boat engines. If you’d like to start a vodka brand, you could use it for that too.
The majority of vodkas that come from distilleries you have never heard of are, most likely, in order of possible quality:
- NGS & Water -redistilled & filtered
- NGS, Water & Glycerin -redistilled & filtered
- NGS, Water, Glycerin & Sugar -redistilled & filtered
- NGS & Water & filtered
- NGS, Water & Glycerin & filtered
- NGS, Water, Glycerin & Sugar & filtered
- oh, and some people add critic acid and chemical flavorings like “truffled butter waffles”
You might notice those last 3 or 4 involve combining industrial product water and calling ‘er done. And that’s fine if the price on the shelf says “less than $15 because this is tantamount to floor cleaner.” Unfortunately, often, that is not the case.
NGS is indeed the friend to scoundrel micro distillers of “vodka” but it also is essential for using as a base in gin, absinthe or liqueurs. Classic style gins want a neutral base upon which to paint a botanical picture and liqueurs need a neutral base to well, not make them just juice & sugar.
NGS, the industrial workhorse, provides us with many lovely products and many affordable ones. It is also what allows the infinite shit storm of flavored vodkas and tasteless marketing stories that take the form of vodka. True, they all have different productions, but I challenge the finest palate to tell us the difference between Donald Trump’s Vodka & Flava Fav’s.