Despite being a clear distilled spirit, the history of vodka is cloudy due to there being little historical material available to determine its original origin. However, Poland, Russia, and Sweden were among the firsts and for many centuries the beverages differed significantly compared to the vodka of today and were originally used as a form of medicine but only contained an estimated 14% alcohol.
While most vodkas are unflavored and can are made from an array of sources such as potatoes, barley, rye and grapes, many flavored vodkas have been produced to cater to a broader range of clientele. From vanilla to honey, citrus to chocolate, vodka is one of the few spirits that can quench the thirst of anyone’s palette.
A common property of the vodkas produced in the US and Europe is the extensive use of filtration. Filtering is sometimes done in the still during distillation, in addition to afterward, where the distilled vodka is filtered through charcoal and other media to absorb trace amounts of substances that can impart off-flavors to the vodka.
However, this is not the case in the traditional vodka-producing nations, who still prefer to use accurate distillation but minimal filtering, thus preserving the unique flavors and characteristics of their vodka.
As with other spirits, a master distiller is assigned the responsibility of distilling the vodka and directing its filtration, to maintain the clean taste that vodka connoisseur’s desire.
Repeated distillation of vodka will make its ethanol level much higher than is acceptable to and depending on the distillation method and the technique of the still master, the final filtered and distilled vodka may have as much as 95–96% ethanol. As such, most vodka is dramatically diluted with water before bottling for consumption.
Vodka is a diverse spirit that is an ideal base for light fruit flavors and soda’s but is sophisticated enough to be served alone in a vodka martini.
Other amazing cocktails where vodka can be found but are not limited to are the Screwdriver, Cosmopolitan, Bloody Mary, Kamikaze, Lemon Drop and Harvey Wallbanger.
The options are limitless so is recommended to always have a bottle of vodka available.