Ali Coleman
Ali Coleman
25 October 2017

What is vodka made from? And other things you don't know

What’s vodka made from?

Most modern vodka is made from cereal grains or potatoes, although grape-based vodkas made in North America have also been produced. Traditionally speaking, vodka has been made from pretty much anything that contains sugar - for example corn, rice or fruit.

Vodka is produced when the main ingredients and sources of sugar are first fermented and then distilled to increase the alcohol content (normally between 37.5% and 40%)."

The origins of vodka

Although many Russians would like to think they invented vodka, there is a lack of evidence to back that claim up. Vodka production was first recorded in Poland during early 15th century and the name is taken from the old Slavic word 'voda' which means water.

It’s likely that early vodkas would have differed a lot from the kinds of vodkas we see today - with a much lower alcohol content too. Typically, early vodkas would have only been around 14% alcohol and were mainly used as medicines.

It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that production became more uniform and the strength was increased. As methods of distillation improved in Poland and Russia for example, it was often produced at above 70% and had to be watered down.

Facts about vodka you probably didn't know about

  • Vodka has been used medicinally since medieval times.
  • The best-selling Russian brand was originally made by a peasant named ‘Smirnoff’.
  • In many ‘Vodka belt’ countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, vodka is served chilled from the freezer and neat.
  • Artisanal vodka is becoming increasingly popular.
  • One legend states that a monk created the first Russian vodka around 1430.
  • There are over 60 vodka-based cocktail recipes popularised around the world
  • ‘Bathtub’ and ‘moonshine’ style vodkas are common in many countries with consumption leading to blindness and even death.

Seeking some vodka-based inspiration? Have a look at our small-batch artisan vodkas and mixers.

  • Alcohol Drinks
  • Cocktails
  • Facts
  • Drinks
  • Vodka

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