Russian Standard Vodka©

Vodka is a distilled spirit made mainly from water and ethanol whose origin is found in Eastern Europe. The name Vodka derives from the Russian word "Voda" or the Polish word "Woda", that means ‘water’.

The statutory EU minimum alcohol content of Vodka is 37.5%. Many manufacturers also offer stronger variants with up to 60% (or more).

There are two spellings of the word Vodka, either “Vodka” or “Wodka”.

Vodka: a spirit drink with a long tradition

The first documented production of Vodka in Russia dates back to the 9th century at the first known distillery – Khylnovsk. Poland is said to have been distilling Vodka since the 8th century, but was in fact distillation of wine and not the distillation of cereals or potatos. The first "right" Polish Vodka was distilled in the 11th century and at that time it was called Gorzalka.

Absolut Vodka family©

Does Vodka exclusively come from Russia and Poland - or maybe from Sweden?

Belvedere Vodka©

All three countries claim to have invented Vodka. Each country produces fantastic Vodka like the Standard Vodka from Russia, Belvedere Vodka from Poland and the superb Absolut Vodka from Sweden.

These are the three main Vodka producing countries but now there is fabulous Vodka from all over the world in many different types and made in different ways.

The most famous Vodkas come from Russia, Sweden, and Poland but France, Finland, Ukraine, America, Netherlands, and Germany are also producing premium Vodka.

From France comes for example the high quality luxurious Grey Goose Vodka. This genuine Vodka particularly excels in its exclusivity.

Vodka was originally regarded as medicine

Beluga Vodka©

Many centuries ago Vodka was completely different to what it is today with regards to the properties of smell, colour and flavour. Vodka originally had medical uses and contained only about 14% alcohol as it was the maximum achievable level natural fermentation could reach.

The increased purity and the increased alcohol content came at the beginning of the 8th Century with multiple distillation, some premium Vodkas are distilled up to an astounding 100 times.

The world first written mention of the word "Wodka" was in the year 1405 by Akta Grodzkie and since then has become one of the world's most popular drinks.

How is Vodka produced?

The production of Vodka is quite simple. As a main ingredient it needs an agricultural product such as wheat, rye, potato, rice, etc. - the wheat Vodka is the most common. In the EU and Eastern Europe this alcoholic drink is usually made from grain, potatoes or rice.

In order to release the starch to convert it to sugar a mash is created by heating the grain. The resulting sweet liquid is fermented and then the raw material is filtered. To get a tasteless spirit the Vodka is usually filtered several times and distilled by means of a continuous still. At the beginning the base liquor has 96% and is then diluted to "Distillation".

Common distillation of Vodka

Grey Goose wheat©

Before going through the carbon filter, demineralized water is added to the Vodka to reduce the alcohol content to about 55%. There are several traditional methods of filtration.

Filtration can be done through felt, river sand and coal. Alternately the fermented liquid is frozen. As water freezes at a higher temperature than alcohol, the water and alcohol can be separated easily.

Initially the alcohol was only distilled once but that changed and now distillation takes place several times improving the quality and purity of the product.

Cleaning and filtration methods in the production of Vodka

There are 10 methods used for cleaning and filtration of Vodka. Some of them have a reputation as a simple marketing gag, others will have immense impact on taste and quality.

Beluga Russian Noble Vodka production©

Following practices of the Vodka filtration are now closely evaluated:

Belvedere Vodka
Belvedere Vodka 1 l
Beluga Noble Russain Vodka
Beluga Noble Russain Vodka 1 l
Russian Standard Vodka
Russian Standard Vodka 1 l
  • Paper filtration
    Several layers of classic paper filters are used. The raw alcohol usually as pre-filtration flows through this filter - comes after the effective and finer filtration process.
  • Cold filtration
    By rapid freezing of the raw alcohol, the alcohol remains liquid and the containing water freezes. When the water freezes, lint substances causing undesirable substances are separated from the alcohol.
  • Active carbon filtration
    Carbon has a very porous atomic structure. One gram of carbon has a surface area of up to 1500 square meters - lots of space so to filter out unwanted substances. The result of the filtration is more modest and the procedure is considered as the standard filtration of the middle class. It's a tried and tested filtration system which is still applied, for example, at the Belvedere Vodka distillery.
  • Silver filtration
    Silver is released into water and it kills bacteria thanks to its antibiotic effect. In combination a purity grade can be achieved with the activated carbon in the Vodka by up to 98%. This filtration is applied to the Beluga Russian Noble Vodka. This method convinces with absolute purity.
  • Platinum filtration
    The Platinum filtration is almost identical to the silver filtration with one difference. Platinum is more expensive. Thus this type of filtration gives the product exclusivity and extravagance. The results of the filtration are however identical.
  • Diamond filtration
    Up front: There is no scientific evidence that supports this method. The diamond filtration is a marketing gimmick.
  • Milk protein purification
    When cleaning with milk protein, milk protein is fed to the Vodka and a clotting process starts removing unwanted microorganisms and flavors. Because this method is very challenging it is now almost only applied in the premium ranges.
  • Ozone cleansing
    Sterilization by means of the ozonation is also applied to a range of drinking water. Ozone kills bacteria and algae and thus helps clean the source water for the Vodka. The pH of the water remains unchanged and enriches it with oxygen without changing the composition of the water. The water hardness is reduced which makes the Vodka soft and supple.
  • Quartz sand filtration
    Sand filtration is a multi-stage system. Here the water flows through several layers of cotton and sand. Solids are suspended and eliminated. Among others Russian Standard Vodka used this method to filter its Vodka.
  • Membrane filtration
    With membrane filtration bacteria and viruses are killed and completely removed from drinking water. This technique is now used more often than the sand method.

Vodka requires no aging

Vodka has no barrel aging such as rum, whisky or cognac. This pure spirit shines through mild and with clarity. Quite a few producers of Vodka now add natural essences from fruit or herbs.

Enjoy Vodka - pure or mixed?

Grey Goose Cocktail Le Fizz

Most Vodka fans believe that the spirit in its pure form is the only true manner to enjoy the spirit.

Generally the Vodka is served pure and is usually enjoyed ice-cold. Vodka is an integral part of many popular cocktails such as the Screwdriver and the Vodka Martini.

Flavoured Vodka is becoming increasingly popular worldwide with extracts of fruit, chili or even seasoned pepperoni. Flavoring substances such as red pepper, ginger, and various fruits such as currants, vanilla, chocolate or cinnamon are also used. In Russia, Vodka with honey and pepper (Pertsovka) is very popular.

In Poland and Belarus leaves of the local Buffalo grass (Zubrowka/Zubrovka) are added to the bottle. In Lithuania and Poland there is a famous Vodka infused with honey (Krupnik).

The tradition of the flavored Vodka is widespread

In the Nordic countries Vodka with herbs, fruits and spices are popular. Sweden has about forty kinds of herbal Vodkas (kryddat brännvin). Vodka-based spirits from Poland and the Ukraine are infused with fruit, root, flowers or herbal extracts, often homemade or produced at small commercial distilleries.

Belvedere Vodka Wild Berry© belvedere.comFinlandia Vodka©

This alcohol content varies between 15 and 75%. Vodka from Estonia is often flavored with black currant, cherry, green apple, lemon, vanilla and water melon taste.

The world-famous Swedish Absolut Vodka is particularly unmatched. Absolut Vodka always comes back with fresh ideas and continuously brings a limited edition to the market or to flavour Vodka such as Absolut Raspberry, Absolut Pear or Absolut Citron.

The award winning Grey Goose Vodka from France also produces Vodka flavor variations - in 3 different but super-premium levels. There is the Grey Goose La Poire, Grey Goose Le Citron and the Grey Goose L'Orange.

All three have a compelling, extremely mild and exclusive taste. The flavored Vodkas are often used in cocktails. Absolut Vodka can be enjoyed pure.

Vodka is significantly more popular than intended

Those who believe that Vodka is not as popular as an old rum or a mature whisky are mistaken. Absolut Vodka and Smirnoff Vodka are, according to Bacardi rum, the biggest brands of alcoholic beverages worldwide.

This is no wonder because Vodka is a major component of thousands of cocktails and is found in any well-stocked bar. Vodka is as an ingredient in the well-known and very popular "Cosmopolitan", "Bloody Mary", "Sex on the Beach", "Long Iceland Ice Tea" and many other drinks.

Whether gourmet Vodka in super-premium quality, such as the Grey Goose, or as an excellent cocktail ingredient like the Białowieża Bison Vodka, Vodka is an incredibly versatile spirit and is therefore essential in all bars.

20% of all distilled spirits sold in the USA is Vodka. 70% of all alcohol consumed in Russia is Vodka

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