Vodka

Vodka

Poland and Russia have literally fought over the origins of Vodka, and which country created it. Russia has the earliest records of creating vodka, while Poland claims its older drink called gorzalka was the original vodka. The name is derived from the Slavik words ‘Voda’ meaning water and ‘ka’ which is a feminine suffix that means little, making the literal translation ‘little water’. What’s funny is that ‘little water’ is big on alcohol, being distilled up to six times to produce a 40% ABV drink of almost pure ethanol and water. It is (ideally) colorless, tasteless, and odorless.
 

Types

Vodka, as such, does not have any categories since it is a simple distilled spirit in the basic sense. It does not have any characteristic aroma and is generally clear in colour, much like water. This allows vodka to be used in formulating cocktails and mixing elite drinks making it a favourite with bartenders and alcohol enthusiasts.
 
Vodka is available in a huge variety of flavours. You name it and there is a great chance of that flavour of vodka being existent. Flavours cover a wide spectrum of tastes such as green apple, red pepper, ginger, fruits, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, honey, various herbs, black-currant, bacon and tobacco. Yes, even bacon and tobacco.
 

Manufacturing

Vodka, as mentioned earlier, is a spirit at the very essence. So, it follows the standard process of synthesizing and distilling alcohol to make it into a lovely beverage. The raw materials used for manufacturing vodka are general grains such as corn, wheat, and rye, etc. Even potatoes and soybeans have also been known to be used in the mashing process.
 
In order to ensure the purity of the beverage and to carry out further processes without hindrance, the ingredients are pre-filtered. It is then subject to sterilization where the mash is boiled. Many times, lactic acid is also added to the mix which helps achieve the required acidity, prevents growth of unwanted bacteria and assists in the fermentation process.
 
The mash is then put into large vats made out of stainless steel. Yeast is added to this sterile mix and left for around three to four days. During this time period, the yeast acts on the mash, fermenting it and converting the mixture into ethyl alcohol. This alcohol is separated from the vats and moved into stills. The still columns used for distillation of vodka are made out of stainless steel. This alcohol is then heated. The vapours of the alcohol, just like every distillation process, are collected by the stills in the vaporising chambers and then condensed back. This process gets rid of the impurities the alcohol might contain. Also, care is taken that only the best vapours are taken ahead for further processes. The initial vapours and the last trickles of alcohol are rejected for maintaining the clean taste of vodka and to avoid giving it a very off-flavour. This distillation and rectification is carried out multiple times in order to increase the alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage of the final product. Most brands mention the number of distillations the vodka has gone through as it indicates the vodka is much cleaner and pure than the others. Premium vodka does not give the burning sensation in the mouth and throat but is more smooth and subtle.
 
The vodka at this stage is nearly 95-100% alcohol. In order to make it fit for consumption, the vodka is diluted down to an acceptable ABV. This percentage differs from brand to brand. Some brands, such as Everclear, sell vodka at an ABV of 95%. Usually, it is diluted to an ABV of around 40-55%. An important factor to be considered here is the liquid used to dilute the vodka. Companies proclaim using clean mountain water or spring water for dilution. This usually helps in maintaining the neutrality in the flavour of vodka and is essential throughout the distillation and boiling process. Post dilution, the mixture is filtered through charcoal columns or seeping through tanks containing charcoal. Once filtered, the vodka can be flavoured, if required, with the proper additives or natural essences or even steeping the herbs or fruits in the vodka for several days.
 
Vodka does not mature. Hence, it can be bottled directly once the final combination is ready and tastes as intended. Vodka is bottled into non-reactive glass bottles which are ready for sale.
 

Nutrition

Vodka is rectified spirit at its very core. Hence, it does not contain any carbohydrates or fats. Neither does it contain any vitamins or minerals. One fluid ounce of vodka contains about 64 calories which is just equivalent to 100% protein.
 

Preferred Brands of Vodka in India

Romanov: Adapting the name of the last czar of Russia, Nikolai Romanov, this vodka from United Spirits is one of the fastest growing vodkas and prides itself in staying true to the Russian taste of vodka. Romanov Red, a blend obtained by a 7-step manufacturing process, is at the forefront of innovation for it. Apart from the standard flavour, Romanov is available in orange, lemon and green apple flavours. The ABV of Romanov is around 42.8%.
 
Eristoff: Bacardi brings this vodka to the masses, which has its origination in Georgia. Made for Prince Eristavi, this vodka is distilled from pure grain spirit, subjected to distillation thrice and then charcoal filtered. Its logo of the wolf is a throwback to the grey wolves of Georgia. Eristoff vodka is available in flavours such as sloe berry, wild berry, lime, caramel and green apple. The website offers a wide array of drinks that can be made using their vodka. The ABV of Eristoff is around 37.5%.
 
Absolut: The third largest brand of vodka in the world, Absolut is the stunning brand brought forward by Pernord Ricard. Synthesized in southern Sweden, the name Absolut comes from the name “Absolut Rent Brännvin” which means “absolutely pure vodka”. The flavours offered by Absolut are in staggering multitudes which are packaged in exemplary bottle designs. This entices both the eyes and the mouth whilst making certain bottles as collector’s editions. Readily available flavours in India are Peppar (jalapenos), Citron (lemon), Kurant (blackcurrant), Mandrin (orange) and Apeach (peach). The ABV is around 40%.
 
Smirnoff: Coming from one of the biggest alcohol producers, Diageo, Smirnoff has its origins in a distillery of Moscow. The vodka is made from grains and is triple distilled to achieve a balance between purity and texture. Smirnoff vodkas come with numbers which signify either premixed vodkas, flavoured vodkas or simple vodkas. Its general flavours are vanilla, lime, green apple and orange. The ABV lies in the range of 35 – 50%.
 
Grey Goose: The finest vodka available in India, Grey Goose comes from the collection of Bacardi. It is premium vodka manufactured in France, has won the Platinum medal at World Spirits Championship and has been termed as the “best tasting vodka in the world” by Beverage Tasting Institute. It has a very elegant aroma with a gentle sweetness, smooth texture and a long finish. This makes it best for straight consumption and even mixes. The variants offered by Grey Goose are Regular, Cherry Noir, La Poire, Orange and Citron. The ABV is around 40%.
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