See more of the story

Making cheap booze taste better. It's one of the latest trends on TikTok, where people pour cheap vodka through a Brita filter in search of a smoother taste.

So, does it work?

Curious, the Star Tribune asked Trish Gavin, a fixture on the Twin Cities restaurant scene and beverage director of the-soon-to-open Eat Street Crossing food hall in Minneapolis, to help determine if home-filtering alcohol is a cheap hack or all hype.

Our method

We prepared the Brita by pouring a few ounces of the liquor we were testing into the filter, then tossing it out before testing samples.

On Gavin's recommendation, we didn't use any palate cleansers, because the time between each pour would give our taste buds enough time to rebound on their own.

In addition to testing vodka, we also brought samples of cheap gin and whiskey, to see what the Brita might do. We also tried a higher-end brand of gin, courtesy of Gavin.

Cheap vodka

Karkov vodka, a college party favorite, is the most common alcohol TikTokers are using, likely because of its attractive price point: $11.99 for 1.75 liters at Total Wine & More. So that's where we started.

The smell of the vodka was stomach-turning; tasting it — unfiltered, straight up — was even worse. Then, we ran it through the filter.

And? Well, we couldn't really taste the difference.

The filter may have removed a tinge of the biting alcohol flavor, but it didn't markedly improve the taste — even after being filtered a second time.

"I want to say it's a little better, but I'm not sure if it's that or if the first taste of the Karkov made my mouth desensitized," Gavin said. After another side-by-side taste test, she declared the filtered version only marginally smoother.

High and low gin

Our first gin try was a cheaper product, New Amsterdam, which has a lemon-citrus taste. After a spin through the Brita filter, it tasted very similar to vodka. Gavin said that's likely because the filter stripped out the citrus taste, leaving behind what is essentially vodka.

Next, we tried a better brand, Fords Gin. The Brita removed much of the gin's piney flavor, causing Gavin to declare that running gin through a Brita filter ruins it.

Flavored whiskey

Interested to know if a filter could make Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey better, we tried that, too. Here's where things got interesting.

After testing vodka and gin, we were sure this would be a bust, too. But surprisingly, the filtered Fireball was much more palatable. Instead of the strong cinnamon flavor, the filtered whiskey had a mellow honey taste.

Behind the buzz

TikTokkers swear by this home filtering technique, saying it not only makes alcohol taste smoother, but also filters out some coloring.

Gavin says it's likely that the Brita filters people are using still contain water. So when they filter the alcohol, they're really just watering it down.

"If someone says, 'This makes my vodka taste like water,' I'm going to be like, 'That's because it is water,' " Gavin said.

People also may be confusing distilling with filtering. Distillation is a purification process in which a liquid is heated, turned to vapor, then condensed back into liquid again. A standard Brita filter uses carbon granules to reduce mercury and the taste of chlorine and has a resin that captures copper, zinc and cadmium, according to the company.

Still, it was a fun experiment.

"I think it's interesting people are trying it and as far as it being a mini science experiment at home, I guess it's better than sitting at home doing nothing," said Gavin.