Introduction to Vodka – Where, When and What?
Vodka is a distilled beverage, also known as a distillate, made up of ethanol and water. It may also contain other flavoring ingredients. The spirit has been around for some time, but its exact date of origin is a hotly debated topic among vodka historians. Although there are some historical records from the 14th century mentioning a vodka-like product, it is likely that they were medicinal drinks with a very low alcohol content. We see vodka in a more modern form in writings from the mid-15th and 16th centuries. In any case, vodka has been around at least as long as many other popular spirits such asBrandyor ScottishWhiskey.
Birthplace(s) of vodka
Vodka can be traced back to three different origins:Poland,Sweden, zRussia. Again, the story can get a little muddled, and of course pride gets in the way of accuracy, so the answer to who had it first depends on who you ask. Polish and Russian vodka willAwayback, and Sweden made a spirit drink essentially called vodkaBrandysince the 15th century. It's impossible to pinpoint a specific birthplace for vodka, but these three countries lay claim to their vodka style.
What's in vodka?
As we have seen, there seems to be a "big three" group of early vodka producers: Poland, Sweden and Russia. Each of these regions created a similar spirit, however each region had their own unique take on the key ingredients. Let's look at each one individually.
Polish vodka needs to be madeone of the five grains: rye, wheat, barley, oats or triticale; or it must be made from potatoes. Only potatoes may be grown in Poland. Otherwise, the ingredients can come from anywhere, as long as the vodka itself is made in Poland. The other obvious main ingredient is water. The filtration removes most residues and minerals.
Swedish vodka typically contains two main ingredients - winter wheat and water. Swedes clearly prefer to keep it simple, as the other ingredient sometimes used is potatoes.
Many people hear "vodka" and automatically assume that it comes from Russia. While we have seen that there are other origins, Russia has embraced the common belief that it is the mother of all vodka production. This may have something to do with the stereotype that vodka is preferable to water in Russia. Russian vodka is similar to Swedish vodka in that it typically consists of two ingredients: wheat or potatoes and water.
What about all the potatoes?
When vodka was first made, aristocrats in Sweden and Russia dictated that only nobles could make the spirit. As such, not everyone could drink or afford what quickly became a popular beverage. However, in an ancient tale, poorer people found that they could use a cheap ingredient (potatoes) and make a "good enough" quality vodka. Eventually, vodka production became commercialized and there was no longer a need to make the drink at home. However, many manufacturers still use potatoes in their recipes and there are many popular potato vodka brands in the market around the world.
How vodka is made
We've outlined the basic ingredients typically found in vodka, but how do these ingredients become the clear liquid we know as vodka? Vodka goes through a process called distillation and uses plant materials that are high in starch or sugar. As we know, this usually means grain or potatoes. Some vodkas are more inventive, using beetroot, crystallized sugar, or even making by-products like pulp as the main ingredient.
The distillation process is very important for vodka as it removes all the "heads" and "tails" that cause color and flavor. Each time vodka is distilled, more off-flavor is removed and clarity is improved. As we know, the ideal finished vodka is virtually tasteless and as clear as water. It's important to note that every time vodka goes through distillation, it reaches a higher alcohol content. Since vodka is often repeatedly distilled, the finished product is often diluted with water to bring its ABV down to drinkable levels.
Filtering is a process used by vodka makers primarily to remove flavor from the finished product. Charcoal filtration is often used to remove anything that might create a bad taste. However, many vodka makers prefer not to filter in this way as it can remove some of the inherent flavor that makes their product unique.
How about flavored vodka?
It's certainly common to see arrays of flavors when walking through the vodka section of a liquor store. Flavoring vodka is not a new phenomenon, as its roots stretch back to the days of medicinal use. Many people have flavored their recipes with local fruits or honey to mask some of the less than ideal flavors. The flavored products available today, especially the more unusual flavors, are made by adding chemicals to vodka after distillation and filtration.
Like most spirits, the main regions of production have specific regulations that determine what can be called vodka. All vodkas are neutral spirits, resulting in an almost transparent end product. Here are some specific regulations required of vodka producing regions.
The EU experienced some confusion about a decade ago when some new regulations came into force in 2008. Some traditional vodka producers felt pressure from countries that produce vodkas without grain or potatoes, i.e. grapes. This has led these countries to condemn these products and call for stricter regulations. Now any vodka made in the EU without grain or potatoes must clearly state what it is made of on its packaging.
The US has kept its regulation of vodka fairly simple. For yourRegulation of Spirits, "Vodka" means neutral spirits that have been distilled or treated with charcoal or other materials after distillation so as not to have a distinctive character, smell, taste or color.
Canada has joined the grain and potato crowd andsays that the vodkait must be an uncontaminated alcoholic beverage obtained by treating grain or potato brandy in conjunction with charcoal, resulting in a product with no distinctive character, aroma or taste.
Some interesting facts about vodka
what's in a name
The word vodka comes from a Slavic word, voda, meaning water.
Vodka is more than just a drink.
It can be used for many things around the house, such as window cleaner and, with a few extra ingredients, as an aftershave.
It really does taste best cold.
Unlike many other spirits, vodka is typically found in the freezer. This is due to the so-called heat that vodka brings to the glass. If you drink it cold it will take some of the edge making it a much tastier drink.
Vodka is gluten free
Gluten free. Easy enough right? However, some vodkas contain flavoring additives, so anyone suffering from a gluten allergy should exercise caution in these cases.
Vodka Price List
|Marke||Land||Average price||Material||court hearing||classified|
|absolut||Sweden||19 $||winter wheat||80||Budget|
|gray goose||France||35 $||mole wheat||80||Forgive|
|Smirnoff||USA, UK, Italy||13 $||More||70/80/90/100||Budget|
|crystal head||You have||$48||Peaches and Creamed Corn||80||Forgive|
|new amsterdam||USA||$ 12||More||70/80||Budget|
|Ketel Um||Netherlands||23 $||European wheat||60/80||Standard|
|a witness||Sweden||$ 12||winter wheat||70/80/100||Budget|
|Climax||France||11 $||winter wheat||70/80/100||Budget|
|Mesa||Latvia||19 $||wheat and rye||70/80/100||Budget|
|ultraviolet||USA||$ 9||wheat, potato or corn||60/80||Budget|
|Chopin||Poland||$28||Potato, Rye, Wheat||36/80||Standard|
|Three olives||England||13 $||british wheat||70/80||Budget|
|Trump card||Netherlands||740 $||Grain||80||Forgive|
|Elite really||Uzbekistan||19 $||Organic Golden Wheat||80||Budget|
|deep whirlpool||USA||13 $||More||70/80||Budget|
Factors affecting the price
The price you can find for vodka in a store varies a lot. From under $10 a bottle to over $100 a bottle, there are prices to suit every budget. There are a variety of factors that affect the price of vodkas, well beyond a simple name.
Have you ever been to an expensive steakhouse and thought, "Why is this place so much better than the one down the street?" The short answer is probably - the ingredients. If the vodka is based on an easily available ingredient or combined with other ingredients, the price per bottle will likely be lower. As you can see in the "Materials" column of the table below, if you notice an unusual ingredient, the price is usually a bit higher. Ciroc, for example, uses grapes to make its vodka. Grapes are obviously more expensive and laborious to grow than fields of wheat, corn, or rye. So the ingredient drives the price.
Another important factor that can determine the price of a vodka is its production method. Distillation and filtration decisions are left to the master distiller who makes the vodka. While some vodkas are ten times distilled and cost less than a triple distilled one, the specific method of distillation may differ. Likewise, filtration plays an important role in the cost of vodka.
Another aspect of production that can increase costs is the size of the still. Small distilleries are likely to charge more for their product since they can't thrive on the lower profit margins that large distilleries can. When a vodka comes from a larger distillery and is mass-produced, it is much less likely to carry a high price tag.
Many people assume that because a vodka is flavored, the price is naturally higher. For example, a bottle of plain Smirnoff has to be cheaper than a bottle of raspberry Smirnoff, right? Incorrect. The flavoring process is inexpensive and doesn't really affect the price of the vodka.
Now that we know what vodka is and how it's made, we can start evaluating the many options available around the world. Our brand guide divides vodkas into three distinct tiers: budget, standard, and premium brands. There are a variety of factors that cause these levels, but generally you can see that cheap bottles are under $20, standard vodkas are between $20 and $30, and premium vodkas are over $20, $30. Let's look at some well-known brands at each level for reference.
- Absolut Vodka: Made in Sweden, Absolut is made from their famous winter wheat product. Absolut is quite popular, being the third most popular spirit behind Bacardi and Smirnoff (another brand in our budget category).
- Svedka: Another Swedish offering, Svedka is a brand best known for their range of flavored vodkas. Remarkably, Svedka uses the same winter wheat as Absolut Vodka.
- Tito's: Tito's Vodka has quickly become one of the most popular vodkas made in the United States. Made from legendary American product corn, Tito's has grown from a micro-distillery to a massive production line that now holds more than 7% of the US vodka market share.
- Ciroc: Ciroc is a unique offering from France. As mentioned earlier, Ciroc uses grapes to make vodka. So how is this classified as vodka? It meets 96% distillation requirements and is unaged.
- Gray Goose: One of the most popular high-end offerings hails from France, believe it or not. Ironically, Gray Goose was bred in a famous region of France - Cognac. In 1998, Gray Goose won the acclaimed Best Tasting Vodka in the World award presented byBeverage Testing Institute.
- Belvedere: Self-proclaimed as the world's first super-premium vodka, Belvedere has been around since 1910 and is made in Poland. Belvedere uses Polish rye as a key ingredient and its recent claim to fame is chosen as the official vodka for the James Bond film.spectrum.
What is the number 1 vodka in the world? ›
1. Smirnoff. Created by a Russian serf named Pytor Smirnov, the world's best-selling vodka has been sold since 1864. In 1886, Smirnov penned an exclusive contract to supply vodka to the Tsar of Russia.What is a good vodka to drink straight? ›
Grey Goose Vodka
Considered one of the best-tasting vodkas on the market, Grey Goose is a smooth vodka that is perfect for mixing or drinking neat. With tasting notes that include citrusy undertones and hints of vanilla, it is definitely one of the best easy-drinking vodkas out there.
IngeniOz Vodka is the World's purest and natural tasting vodka.Why do people drink vodka straight? ›
Premium vodka brands are popular to drink straight, due to their smoothness and high-quality distilling processes. Vodka brands you may see drunk straight include Belvedere, Tito's, Stolichnaya (or Stoli), and Absolut vodka. Vodka has a high alcohol content, so drinking it straight will likely lead to getting drunk.Which vodka is better for shots? ›
Russian Standard is one of the most popular brands of vodka for shots. This Russian vodka has a slightly sweet taste that makes it great for taking straight as a shot.Is Tito's better than Grey Goose? ›
If you're looking for a bolder flavor, then Tito's might be better for you than Gray Goose; if you want something smoother and softer on your palate, then Gray Goose will likely be your favorite choice.Should opened vodka be refrigerated? ›
The rule I use is: If it's under 15% alcohol or if the base is wine, it goes in the fridge once it's open. Spirits like whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, etc. don't need to be refrigerated because the high alcohol content preserves their integrity.Is vodka best stored in the fridge? ›
Vodka is a spirit that can either be kept at room temperature or kept in the fridge. It's really down to individual preference. In fact, vodka can even be stored in the freezer. This is because drinks with an alcohol content higher than 35% can be stored in the freezer and won't freeze.How long can vodka last unrefrigerated? ›
That said, if you store hard liquor at moderate temperature away from direct light, it lasts indefinitely. At 30% to 40%, liquor is not a hospitable environment for bacteria. And if it's not opened, you'll deal with virtually no oxidation. But once you open a liquor bottle, oxidation begins.What's the best liquor to take straight shots of? ›
Whiskey is touted as one of the best alcohols for straight shots. Not only does it have a lower alcohol by volume (ABV) than tequila and vodka, it tastes great by itself. You can still do shots with vodka and tequila, but the taste is so strong that it's difficult to stomach.
What liquor is easiest to drink straight? ›
- Be unsweetened or sweetened,
- Be aged in barrels or not, and.
- Contain dozens of botanicals or just 1-2 ingredients.
Most Russians don't mix their vodka with anything, not with juices, sodas, or even energy drinks. According to Russians, vodka is meant to be served pure and chilled. It should be extremely cold to get the enhanced taste of it. It always has to be kept in the freezer and drank fast before it loses its chill.What vodka is distilled 10 times? ›
Platinum 10X is crafted under the careful supervision of our experienced distillers. It is distilled an impressive 10 times from high quality American grain. Utilizing column & pot distillation allows for a more pure distillate that delivers a consistent and smooth drinking experience every time.What alcohol is 5 times distilled? ›
5x distilled vodka
One vodka brand that is distilled five times is Svedka.
- Belvedere Vodka.
- Absolut Elyx.
- Crystal Head.
- Haku Vodka.
- Dima's vodka.
- Till Voda.
This rather improbable combination of vodka and milk makes a liqueur so smooth and perfectly sweet that you'll want to sip it straight. Get the recipe, our review, and some ideas for using this sweet liqueur below.Why does vodka get you drunk fast? ›
Highly concentrated beverages, like vodka and gin, are absorbed faster by your body. It also absorbs fizzy and bubbly drinks, like champagne or soda mixes, quicker than other drinks. How fast you drink. Chugging rather than sipping will increase your BAC faster and cause you to feel drunker.Is vodka better cold or warm? ›
The optimal drinking temperature of vodka is somewhere between 32-39 degrees Fahrenheit. And this should be achieved one of three ways: Storing in the refrigerator.What makes top shelf vodka better? ›
Top Vodka Brands Are Obsessed With Distillation
There are fewer congeners found in top-shelf vodkas than in the bottom-shelf vodkas, which is often due to the fact that top vodka brands tend to have a more sophisticated distillation process.
For getting a little drunk, three shots of vodka are enough. If you continue to drink up to 8 to 9 shots, that's when they start getting more drunk. The upper cap for men is ten shots of vodka. Exceeding this, they will be extremely drunk.
Is a shot of vodka equal to a can of beer? ›
Vodka that is marked as 80 proof has 40% ABV. This means that 12 oz (354ml) of 5% beer contains 0.6 oz (17.7ml) pure alcohol. The vodka shot at 1.5 oz (44ml) has 0.6 oz (17.4ml) of alcohol. When you compare alcohol content, this fairly simple math shows that one regular beer is equal to one shot.Why do people prefer Tito's vodka? ›
In comparison to other vodkas of its era, with their vaguely European cosmopolitan pretensions, Tito's had three selling points, all right there on the label: It's handmade, it's pot stilled, and it's from Texas.Is Grey Goose or Ketel One better? ›
Kettle one is difficult to beat at the cost, and anyone who is a vodka lover will tell you the same. Many consider Grey Goose to be wildly exaggerated. Many will argue that the only thing super-premium about it is the branding and the marketing. Ketel is the same quality yet typically better worth.What vodka is the same as Tito's? ›
Tito's and Grey Goose vodkas are both gluten-free because they are both made from corn or wheat and distilled. There are some subtle differences between the two vodkas despite the similarity in aroma. Grey Goose has a hint of wheat or bread, whereas Tito's has a hint of corn or grain.Should you freeze vodka? ›
Many people think placing vodka in the freezer is the best way to store it. Freezing vodka does nothing to harm it — in fact it actually creates a much more viscous texture which is hard not to enjoy with vodka.Can vodka expire? ›
The good news is that liquor such as gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum, are considered shelf-stable. That means that as long as you store the bottle properly and it remains unopened, you can consider it safe to drink indefinitely.Why is vodka kept in the freezer? ›
As the temperature drops, the viscosity (thickness) of a liquid increases. That means after vodka hangs out in the freezer for awhile it has a better texture. According to Claire Smith of Belvedere, “[vodka] becomes more viscous, richer. It coats the mouth.” The same can be said for any spirit (or liquid, really).Does vodka freeze in the fridge? ›
While it's true that vodka, due to its ethanol content, will get cold but won't freeze solid above -27 degrees Celsius (-16.6 degrees Fahrenheit), keeping good vodka in the freezer will mask some of its best qualities, such as its subtle scents and flavors, Thibault warns.Can I store vodka for years? ›
An opened vodka bottle can actually stay for a few years. However, it also loses its flavour & fragrance after a decade and will get weaker. To store an opened vodka bottle, it is recommended to store it in a cool & dark place with a screw-top closure.Can you store vodka at room temperature after refrigeration? ›
Hard liquors like vodka, rum, tequila, and whiskey; most liqueurs, including Campari, St. Germain, Cointreau, and Pimm's; and bitters are perfectly safe to store at room temperature.
Can you drink 7 year old vodka? ›
No, vodka doesn't have a use-by date since it doesn't really expire because it has an indefinite shelf life. Unlike wine, other spirits like gin, tequila, rum, and whiskey, vodka stops aging once it has been bottled.Does alcohol raise blood pressure? ›
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises blood pressure. Repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure.How many shots of vodka does it take to get drunk? ›
The average number of shots you need to drink to get drunk ranges from five to ten shots. It takes about three to four vodka shots to get tipsy and four to five shots to get woozy. Drinking over ten shots of vodka will get you very drunk, and you shouldn't do it as you will lose the kick and feel very bad the next day.What is America's most popular alcoholic drink? ›
So what can we take away from this study? Well, the most popular type of liquor in most U.S. states is whiskey, but vodka is a close second. Meanwhile, staple liquors like tequila and rum aren't the most popular liquor in nearly as many states, so the gap between whiskey and vodka and the other liquors is quite large.What is the most popular liquor in America? ›
1 vodka, which has been the top-selling spirit in the U.S. since the 1970s. At $7.3 billion in revenue, vodka is still selling roughly $2 billion more annually than tequila and mezcal, but agave-based spirits could be on track to outstrip it in just a few years.What are the top 10 vodka drinks? ›
- Bloody Mary.
- Moscow Mule.
- Sea Breeze.
- Vodka Cranberry (Cape Cod)
Austin-based vodka brand Tito's is the top-selling spirit in the United States, according to preliminary 2019 figures released by IWSR US Beverage Alcohol Review database (which offers drinks market analysis) and reported by the trade journal The Spirits Business. Tito's grew over 20% in volume in 2019.Whats an alcoholic drink everyone likes? ›
- Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned was invented by James E. ...
- Moscow Mule. Sophie Berezinski and her father owned a copper factory in Russia. ...
- Negroni. The Negroni was invented at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919. ...
- Mojito. ...
- Whiskey Sour. ...
- Daiquiri. ...
- Margarita. ...
- Mai Tai.
|#||Brand||Sales in 2020 (in '000 9-liter cases)|
|1||Tito's Handmade Vodka||10,353|
Vodka had the greatest volume share in the spirits market in the United States in 2021. In that year, vodka accounted for 26.82 percent of all spirits sales.
What is the spirit drink of America? ›
Born in Kentucky, bourbon has been the USA's national spirit since 1964. Pride of Americans, it has a unique flavor reminiscent of eggnog, toasted nuts, nutmeg, caramel, and even cinnamon. Few national drinks have as much flavor as bourbon and it must be made with at least 51 percent corn, according to American laws.What are the 4 types of vodka? ›
- Plain vodkas.
- Flavored vodkas.
- Fruit vodkas.
- Grain vodkas.
Russian Standard is one of the few U.S.-sold vodka brands that actually comes from Russia.