The intelligent investor's guide to spirits

Money asked top connoisseurs to identify their favorite undervalued spirits. These hidden gems will set you back less than the standard labels and impress your friends more. Bottoms up!

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These days, liquor store shelves are crowded with "super-premium" vodkas costing up to $70 a bottle. These tout multiple distillations and, often, unusual bases - maple, grapes, soy and so on. Ignore this hype, says Dushan Zaric, co-owner of New York City hot spot Employees Only. Distillation numbers are bunk. (Unlike with Scotch, there's no standard definition.) Also, you'll notice a difference in bases only if you drink vodka straight - which Americans rarely do, says Zaric. As a result, you'll find the picks below hold their own against the $70 bottles.

Our picks:

Ketel One, $25: Technically a super-premium vodka, it sells for far less than others in the category.

Charbay Distillers, $28: Produced in California, it's twice been Spirit Journal's No. 1 vodka in the world.

Russian Standard, $21: It's just as good as the company's $35 super-premium Imperia.

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Last updated December 19 2008: 10:43 AM ET
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