Many individuals are unaware that there are many different types of vodka. To ordinary men, vodka is just vodka. However, this couldn’t be further from reality.
Vodka is a clear spirit, made from water, ethanol, and minor traces of flavor. Those are the basic components of Vodka, though it is hard to believe that these are the only ingredients for one of the world’s most famous beverages.
Although it was unknown outside of Europe until the mid-nineteenth century, when vodka arrived in the United States, its popularity quickly and dramatically increased. In 1975, vodka sales in the United States surpassed bourbon sales for the first time.
The Vodka Origin
Vodka was invented in southwestern Russia or Poland between the 14th and 16th centuries. It is produced from common grain or potatoes, and its production technology has been modified over time, but the basic method has remained relatively constant.
The addition of a broader range and stronger twist of tastes to the originally bland vodka has been considered by some as the key progress in the last 700 years of vodka production.
Many people believe vodka is created from potatoes, and it can be, but it’s more often produced from any sort of starch or sugar source with yeast added. Because starch is composed of long chains of sugars, it can be broken down into sugar with the aid of specific enzymes. The most important sources of starch used in the production of vodka include wheat, rye, corn, rice, potatoes, barley, and soy. Sugar comes from a variety of sources, including sugar cane, molasses, sugar beets, honey, maple syrup, and fruits such as grapes and apples.
Since then, numerous grains and sugars have been used to produce vodka. Whisky expert Gandar stated that in consequence, any type of converted starch or sweetness can be utilized to create vodka. With easier access than ever before, lower-cost releases are becoming more common, allowing for higher-end releases.
How is Vodka Made?
The distillation process is an amazing science that has been used for centuries to produce vodka. It is the process of heating a liquid to its boiling point, then cooling it so that the vapor condenses back into a liquid. This process is repeated multiple times to purify the ethanol.
The first step to make vodka is to take the starch or sugar and break it down into glucose. Then, yeast is added to the mixture which eats the glucose and turns it into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
This liquid is then distilled, which means that it’s heated until it becomes a vapor and then cooled so that it condenses back into a liquid. This process is repeated multiple times to purify the ethanol.
After distillation, the vodka is filtered to remove any impurities. The most common type of filtration is charcoal filtering, which gives the vodka a smooth taste.
Finally, the vodka is diluted with water to lower the alcohol content and bottled.
To test whether the liquid has been fully distilled and that alcohol is present, you set fire to it and wait for it to burn out. When cooled, the substance returns to a liquid form before being filtered. The final alcohol concentration of the solution is 40 percent.
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How to Drink Vodka?
There are several methods to consume vodka, but the most important thing is to make sure it’s kept cold. Place the bottle in the freezer for a few hours before consuming vodka or making any vodka-based cocktails.
There’s no need to be concerned about the vodka becoming too cold because it has a significantly lower freezing point than alcohol. The unpleasant flavors will be removed by freezing it.
Pour vodka into a tiny tumbler for maximum taste if drinking it straight. Swirl the glass and take a little sip as the flavor lingers on your tongue.
There are plenty of popular vodka-based cocktails to enjoy. Some common favorites are Cosmopolitan, Martini, Bloody Mary, Gimlet, and White Russian. Or, keep it simple in a highball glass with a vodka soda or vodka tonic.
The Three Main Types of Vodka
There are three distinct types of vodka on the market. The primary distinction among them is what has been added during the infusion process or added after distillation.
- Most Common Vodka for Mixing
Vodka is a clear, colorless liquid produced from fermented grains. The most popular cocktail spirit in the world has no flavor and is made with only two components: ethanol and water, both at 60 percent. Plain vodka is the most common mixed drink in the world because it lacks taste and any powerful odors or tastes come from the distillation process.
- Natural flavors or extracts are added after the distillation process
- Can have sweet, spicy, and other unique tastes
Flavored vodka goes through an infusion process where natural flavors or extracts are added to the vodka. This can be done with almost any fruit, herb, or spice. The most popular flavors of vodka include citrus, vanilla, chocolate, cherry, and cinnamon. There are also many unique flavors on the market such as bacon, whipped cream, and even cupcakes.
- Infused with fruits or herbs for another three weeks after distillation
- Has complex flavor profiles, hues, and scent
Vodka can be infused with fruits or herbs for an additional three weeks to elongate the manufacturing process. These vodkas, unlike plain vodka, have considerably more complex flavor profiles and come in a variety of hues with various scents. It’s the same technique as gin (as well as vodka and gin production) starts off and results in a similar product.
Vodka Varieties By Country
Vodka is a very popular drink all over the world and each country has its own way of making it. Some countries use different techniques, while others use unique ingredients to produce their vodka. Here are some popular varieties of Vodka from around the world.
- French Vodka – François Thibault is the driving force behind Grey Goose Vodka, which has become a household name among vodkas. This vodka is widely recognized as being the best in France. It’s a great vodka, to be sure. Winter wheat from La Beauce is used to distill it five times. They use artisanal well water that has been naturally filtered through Champagne limestone to dilute it.
- Russian Vodka – Dmitri Mendeleev created the recipe for Russian vodka in 1894. This formula has not been altered since then. It holds 60% of the Russian cocktail bars market thanks to a triple distillation of wheat grain alcohol, which adds water from Lake Ladoga, Russia’s coldest lake. The Russian Standard Original is the definitive example of Russian vodka.
- Polish Vodka – Polish vodka is made from rye, wheat or potatoes. The process of making Polish vodka was first described in the early 16th century by Hieronim Chodkiewicz. He wrote a treatise on how to distill alcohol and make different types of spirits.
- American Vodka – SKYY is the world’s first 100% distilled liquor, and it has a mild flavor. SKYY Vodka began its first ad on television in 2012, where the bottle’s design was highlighted and its goal was to reach perfection.
- Vodka from Finland – Finlandia vodka was originally established in the 1970s. Although it is not excessively popular, Tapio Wirkkala created a distinctive vodka that is still being produced today. This vodka is made via a distillation method in which barley grains are crushed with spring water and macerated.
Popular Types of Vodka Brands
Now that we know the different types of vodka, let’s explore some of the most popular brands of Vodka to help you find the best spirits for your bar.
Absolut (The Best Overall)
Absolut has no sugar in it, unlike many vodkas on the market. This, combined with its superior flavor and insistence on using only high-quality components, makes the brand our best overall vodka in the world.
Absolut Vodka is a fantastic, pure vodka that should be in every liquor cabinet. It’s one of the simplest vodkas on the market, with a clean, pure taste that somehow has a full-bodied and complex flavor to it.
It’s one of the most popular vodkas in the world, thanks to its distinctive apothecary bottle and delicate wheat scent. It’s smooth enough to sip neat or add to cocktails to bring out the sweeter notes, and it’s produced with locally grown wheat in Sweden’s Åhus town.
It can be sipped cold or topped up with soda or mixed into a cocktail; there’s no such thing as bad weather for this top-rated spirit. In fact, the brand is so well-loved that bartenders have created entire cocktails using only Absolut as the base.
Hangar 1 (Best Tasting)
Hangar 1 Select Vodka prizes attention to detail throughout the whole distillation process. This small-batch vodka is made in a historic aircraft hangar near San Francisco and is a must-try for any vodka enthusiast.
The attention to detail that Hangar 1’s Fog Point Vodka has is evident in every aspect of the distillery. It’s a vodka created with fog catchers near San Francisco Bay that transforms fog into freshwater before mixing with Napa Valley Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier wine distilled.
This is a fantastic example of how one distillery’s innovation can influence another. The resulting spirit is incredibly smooth, with undertones of pear, citrus, and honeysuckle. It has a slight sweet scent and a full, round flavor that’s crystal clear. This vodka boasts many taste nuances, making it perfect for sipping neat.
Tito’s Vodka (Best Gluten-Free)
Tito’s Vodka is a premium gluten-free vodka that is handcrafted. It’s difficult to resist Tito’s on any drinking occasion since it meets or exceeds all of the criteria: affordability, crispness, flavor, and a smooth finish.
Tito vodka is distilled in a pot still (which is uncommon for vodka due to the extra effort required) six times and then filtered through activated charcoal. Its distinctive flavor comes from its high corn content, while its popularity stems from its adaptability.
Belvedere (Smoothest Vodka)
Belvedere, a Polish vodka made at the Polmos Zyrardow distillery and known as the birthplace of all vodka, is smooth and delicious to drink neat. This top-shelf vodka has a velvety smooth texture because it’s made with Dankowskie Gold Rye from Poland. The high starch content of this rye makes for a more vicious spirit.
Belvedere’s rye is also distilled four times before being blended with water from Poland’s pristine Mazovian Lakes District. This process creates Belvedere’s signature smoothness, which you can taste in every sip.
It’s distilled in a four-column still process, with local Polish water as the final step before being charcoal filtered and bottled. Belvedere lives up to its name, which translates as “beautiful to view,” with everything from the fantastic spirit within to the elegant translucent bottle.
Spirytus Rektyfikowany (Strongest Vodka Brand)
Spirytus Rektyfikowany is a Polish vodka that’s distilled an astounding 192 times. This makes it the strongest vodka in the world, with an alcohol content of 96% ABV.
While some might find the high alcohol content off-putting, it’s actually perfect for making cocktails since it has such a neutral flavor. It’s also great for sipping neat if you’re looking for a challenge.
Spirytus Rektyfikowany is made from sugar beet molasses and is distilled in column stills before being cut with water to achieve the desired strength. The final product is then charcoal filtered and bottled.
If you’re looking for a vodka that packs a punch, then Spirytus Rektyfikowany is the one for you. Just be careful not to overdo it since a little goes a long way with this powerful spirit.
Ciroc (Top Rated Vodka Brand)
Ciroc vodka differs from other well-known vodkas since it is produced from grapes rather than grains or potatoes. It’s a high-quality vodka that has an intriguing flavor thanks to the charcoal filtering. The original, unadulterated bottle is a popular choice throughout the world and works well as a single sipping vodka or combined
Ciroc is distilled five times before being bottled and contains grapes grown in the Gaillac region of France. It employs a cold fermentation technique to give it an outstanding taste that is both refreshingly distinct and wonderfully crisp.
Ciroc Vodka is a high-quality vodka that’s as smooth as promised, providing an exciting drink to enjoy no matter what mixers are used. Cocktail connoisseurs can also make use of Ciroc’s extensive selection of infused and flavored vodkas, with the white grape and peach variants being particularly popular.
UV Vodka (Best Flavored)
UV Vodka is difficult to beat if you’re searching for something a little sweeter. UV Vodka somehow combines the gap between naturally flavored liquors and a hefty dose of fun, despite the fact that it’s available in over a dozen varieties (upwards of 14 currently).
When it comes to the best vodka brands, it’s basically the life of the party: a fantastic, budget-friendly alternative for bringing to social gatherings when a normal bottle of clear vodka just won’t do. Bonus points for its quadruple distillation and pleasant flavor.
Burnetts (Best American Vodka)
Burns’ Vodka is the pinnacle of the carefree, youthful American party lifestyle. And we’re quite certain about that. Burnett’s is the secret weapon to daily cocktail parties and the rediscovery of your new favorite long drink, available in a variety of hues and tastes (including niche choices like Orange Cream and Sweet Tea).
It’s cheap vodka, no doubt. But it gets the job done, and it gets it done well. If you’re looking for a bottle that will make your guests do a double-take (or maybe even a triple take), then Burnett’s is the way to go.
Beluga (High-End Vodka)
Beluga is a Russian vodka that’s made using a special blend of wheat, rye, and barley. This luxurious spirit is distilled three times and then filtered through birch charcoal and quartz sand to give it a smooth, clean flavor.
The vodka is made in western Siberia, Russia, using artesian water for the most genuine taste. Beluga’s unique flavor comes from the addition of honey, milk thistle, and oats after distillation. Before bottling, Beluga adds honey, milk thistle, and oats to give it a distinctive taste. With notes of vanilla, sage, white pepper, and cream, this super-premium vodka is impressively pure and smooth.
Beluga vodka hopes to deliver on its promise of exceptional flavor and high-end packaging by appealing to discerning drinkers who appreciate the great taste.
The Most Popular Vodka Cocktails
Vodka is a favorite among bartenders and consumers, whether you enjoy it or despise it. It has been a mainstay in any well-stocked bar for the past 30 years, and while it may have gone in and out of style during that time, it remains the most widely consumed spirit in the United States by volume. It’s also the third most popular spirit in the world.
Vodka’s popularity is due in large part to its versatility. It can be mixed with just about anything, and it’s one of the few spirits that can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. It’s also relatively inexpensive, which makes it a great choice for budget-minded drinkers.
Here are some of the most popular cocktails using Vodka.
- Vodka Martini – All you’ll need are two ingredients to make this drink. While a gin Martini is typically considered more conventional, the vodka Martini was a hit in the 1990s and early 2000s, when vodka was at its peak. Simply combine five parts vodka and one part vermouth in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a Martini glass for a classic cocktail that’s sure to please.
- Cosmopolitan – This drink is as popular as it is delicious, and it’s perfect for vodka lovers. The Cosmopolitan is made with three parts vodka, two parts cranberry juice, one part lime juice, and a splash of Triple Sec. Simply combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
- Greyhound – The Greyhound is a simple cocktail that’s perfect for summertime sipping. It’s made with three parts grapefruit juice and one part vodka, and it can be served over ice or straight up. For a twist on the classic, try using cranberry juice instead of grapefruit juice.
- Screwdriver – This classic drink is as easy to make as it is to drink. Simply combine two parts vodka and one part orange juice in a glass with ice and stir. You can also add a splash of club soda or Sprite for a little extra fizz.
- Bloody Mary – The hearty cocktail is commonly referred to as the best hangover cure, and it may be enhanced with everything from a simple celery stick to tiny burgers, crab legs, and all other conceivable garnishes. To construct one, put vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and celery salt in a Highball glass with ice and stir.
Key Terms to Know When Buying Vodka
There are a few key terms you should be aware of when shopping for vodka. Here’s a quick rundown of what they mean:
- Proof – This is a measure of the alcohol content in a beverage, and it’s expressed as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume. For example, if vodka is 40% alcohol by volume, it would be 80 proof.
- Distillation – This is a process that’s used to purify and concentrate alcohol. Vodka is typically distilled multiple times to remove impurities and produce a high-proof spirit.
- Charcoal Filtered – When vodka is distilled, charcoal is used to filter it in order to eliminate undesirable tastes. After the distilling procedure, before the spirit is bottled and sold, charcoal is believed to remove off-flavors from vodka. This leads to a more premium taste with smoother tones.
- Vodka belt – The Vodka Belt is a geographical region in Europe where approximately 70% of the world’s vodka is made. The Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland), Baltic states (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania) as well as Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine are all part of it.
FAQs About Vodka
What is the Most Expensive Vodka?
The most expensive Vodka in the world is the Billionaire Vodka priced at $7.25 million.
Billionaire Vodka is the most expensive vodka brand in the world, and it’s produced by renowned designer Leon Verres. The spirit is filtered with diamonds, and it’s created using an authentic Russian technique. Despite its high price tag, it is sold out across the world because of its exquisite decoration with nearly two thousand diamonds set in gold.
What is the Cheapest Vodka?
The cheapest vodka brand is Smirnoff Ice.
Smirnoff Ice is a popular malt beverage that’s made with Smirnoff vodka, natural flavors, and carbonation. It’s available in a variety of flavors, and it’s one of the most affordable ways to enjoy vodka. A case of Smirnoff Ice can be found for less than $20, and it’s a great option for budget-conscious drinkers.
What Does Vodka Mean?
The word “vodka” is derived from the Russian word “voda,” which means “water.” Vodka is a clear spirit that’s typically made with water and grain. It’s one of the most popular spirits in the world, and it’s used in a wide variety of cocktails.
How Many Calories Are in Vodka?
Vodka is a low-calorie spirit, and a single shot of vodka (1.5 ounces) contains approximately 100 calories. For comparison, a can of beer contains 150 calories, and a glass of wine has approximately 120 calories.
What is the first Vodka Cocktail Recipe?
The Russian Cocktail, developed in New Orleans in 1911 is the first recorded cocktail using Vodka and Rowanberry cordial. Since then, a slew of popular alcoholic beverages has been created, including the Moscow Mule and Cosmopolitan. Vodka producers quickly joined the fray in order to distill and flavor this famous spirit due to its widespread popularity.
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Vodka remains to be a well-loved drink whether pure or mixed. Russians have been perfecting this beverage for centuries, and the rest of the world has taken notice. Vodka’s popularity is due in part to its versatility – it can be mixed with fruit juice, soda, or even just drunk straight. No matter how you enjoy it, vodka is sure to please.
Unknown to many, there are several types of vodka and it can be cataloged based on their raw materials, origin, or the process of distillation. Vodka made from wheat is smooth and has a subtle flavor, while vodka made from rye is rich and full-bodied. Potato vodka is creamy and slightly sweet, while grain vodka is light and neutral. As for the process of distillation, some vodkas are distilled multiple times to remove impurities while others are only distilled once.
Vodka is truly a unique spirit, and there’s no wrong way to enjoy it. Whether you prefer it neat or mixed in a cocktail, there’s vodka out there for everyone. So grab a bottle and raise a glass to this iconic spirit. Cheers!