Vodka is an alcoholic beverage that’s both being drunk and enjoyed by various people. It’s known as a spirit, composed of both ethanol and water. It’s one of the most popular spirits in the world- some would even say it’s the strongest. Most vodka today is being produced from fermented grains, and most people get the idea that vodka comes from potatoes. While this is true, it also comes from other fermented grains such as wheat, corn, or rice. There’s no denying the fact that vodka has become a popular alcoholic drink and spirit, and it’s been popular for a certain span of time. In this article, we’ll be diving into everything you need to know about vodka, including vodka brands and its pricing in the US.
Introduction of Vodka
Where Does Vodka Come From?
With its origins in Russia, Vodka was first presented here during the 14th century- specifically in Russia, Poland. Back in the early days, vodka was produced with wood alcohol, which causes a smell similar to kerosene. Vodka was also sold in buckets, back in the day. St. Petersburg, the founder of Russian Vodka Museum, implied that the entire Russian history is linked to vodka. This popular spirit was made popular in Russia by the early 16th century.
When Was Vodka Created?
The word vodka first appeared in 1533, regarding a medicinal drink. While vodka is now being enjoyed for leisure purposes, it was first known for medicinal purposes back in the day- specifically as low ABV medicinal drinks. Research implies that both Russians and Poles invented this spirit and it was said to have been produced sometime during 14 to the late 15th century. Asides from being used as low ABV medical drinks, vodka was also used as a disinfectant and wound treatment. Vodka has been known as one of the alcoholic beverages that have been around for a long period of time, along with other spirits such as cognac or whiskey.
What Type of Alcohol Is Vodka?
A distilled spirit and alcoholic beverage, vodka is produced from fermented grains. While it originated in Russia, it’s now in demand all over the world. Vodka is the most used alcoholic beverage in cocktails and mixed drinks as it blends with almost everything. Vodka is often being compared with gin having that similar clear color. While they’re both distilled from grain, vodka differs with its tasteless flavor. The distinctive taste of vodka is mainly silky, grainy, and oily. Since vodka is a rectified spirit, it’s distilled at least 3 times- some even more. The more times vodka is distilled, the cleaner and smoother it becomes. The taste of Vodka differs per brand- some having a hint of sweetness while others have a medicinal finish.
How Vodka Is Made?
Since we’ve established the basics around vodka, it’s time to talk about the process of how vodka is made. We’ve talked about how vodka is a distilled spirit, which means that it goes through the distillation process. This is to utilize any starch or plant materials rich in sugar. Aside from distillation, filtering is another process seen in vodka production. In the following, we’ll be discussing the in-depth process of how vodka is made.
Step 1 - Raw materials and processing
In order to turn starch into sugar, this is where wheat grains and potatoes are cooked. After this, raw materials are crushed and are combined with water in order to produce a mash. After this, fermentation takes place to avoid bacteria that could affect the overall process. Once fermentation is done with, the alcohol is now transferred to get ready for the next stage- distillation.
Step 2 - Distillation
This is one of the most important processes in the entire production of vodka as it removes the necessary heads and tails that could cause coloring and flavor. There’s a reason why it is deemed tasteless and colorless both in flavor and taste, and it has everything to do with both the distillation and filtering process. We’ve mentioned earlier that the distillation process of vodka causes it to appear cleaner and smoother but asides from this, this is how vodka gains its high alcoholic percentage. Since it’s repeatedly distilled, the finished product is diluted with water to make it a more bearable drink due to its high alcoholic content.
Step 3 - Filtering
Vodka needs to have that distinct taste, and this is where filtering comes into significance. Filtering is essential to take out any poor taste from the unfinished product through the use of charcoal filtering. However, this filtering process doesn’t apply to all vodka production as certain vodka makers don’t want to filter their vodka this way- these vodka makers want the inherent flavor to make their vodka unique and distinct from others.
3 Main Vodka Rules
Whether you’re aware of it or not, certain regulations apply with most spirits. In the following, we’ll be discussing the regulations in certain countries or regions.
The United States has one of the most basic regulations regarding vodka production. When producing vodka, it needs to be distilled with charcoal or other necessary materials to be without distinct taste, color, or character. To put things simply, the basic steps of vodka production must be applied. If vodka wants to have a distinctive taste, it must contain limited amounts of sugar and citric acid. Lastly, it must not be produced from other materials and must not be above 190 proof regarding alcoholic content.
Due to the popularity of producing vodka without grain or potatoes in other countries, some vodka producers have been trying this method- through grapes. This led to stricter restrictions namely that if vodka was made without grain or potatoes produced in the EU, they must indicate what it’s precisely made from in its packaging.
Canada’s regulations imply that vodka production must involve the use of grain or potatoes accompanied by charcoal. It must also be an uncontaminated distilled spirit without any distinctive taste, color, or character- similar to the regulations of the United States. In addition, vodka produced from anything other than grains or potatoes must be in proper label form, referred to as ‘Produced from.’
10 Best Vodka Brands
Known as a luxury vodka brand that originated in France, it was named the best-tasting vodka back in 1998. It was also known as the best-selling premium vodka brand in the United States. Research suggested that what contributed to its success, specifically in the US market, is the fact that it’s a status-symbol being known as an elite brand. Grey Goose is made from soft wheat and is 80 proof.
With origins in France, Ciroc Vodka offers premium vodka with prices higher than other low-cost vodka brands. The fact that it’s made from distilled grapes is what makes this distinction. According to some reviews, this vodka has a hint of grapes in its taste. Ciroc Vodka has 70 to 80 proof regarding its alcoholic content.
Origins from the US, UK, and Italy, Smirnoff is a vodka brand made from corn. What makes Smirnoff unique is the 40 unique vodka flavors that Smirnoff offers- even with flavors such as churro vodka. Unlike the mainstream taste of vodka, they pride in giving a variety of flavors, specifically targeting customers with particular tastes. Smirnoff vodka consists of proof ranging from 70-100.
Made from Poland, it’s one of the expensive luxury brands due to its controlled production process and unique ingredients. Chopin Vodka is made from potatoes, rye or wheat, and consists of either 36 or 80 proof.
As one of the popular and widely known brands, Absolut prides in being used for cocktails or shots. The majority of Absolut’s success has everything to do with its advanced advertising practices. Asides from their advertising, people are attracted to Absolut Vodka due to its distinct product, from its bottle brand to its production. This is just proof of why Absolut maintains its success until this very day. Absolut Vodka was also introduced as the Vodka of Sweden and it has a proof of 80.
What makes Skyy Vodka unique is it being congener-free. If you don’t know what congener is, it’s responsible for producing a specific taste in vodka. If vodka is congener free, it guarantees a smooth and pleasant experience when drinking vodka. Made in the United States, it’s made from wheat and contains 70 to 80 proof.
Another high-end vodka brand, Effen Vodka originated from the Netherlands. It’s distilled from the finest materials and the best spring water. Effen Vodka is made from wheat and has 75 to 80 proof.
Originated in the United States, Tito’s prides in a vodka that meets your expectations in terms of quality. In addition, Tito’s is gluten-free so for individuals trying to maintain their weight while having an alcoholic drink, this is the brand. Tito’s is made from all-American corn, which is why they earned a gluten-free certification.
Known as the most expensive bottle of vodka in this list, Crystal Head Vodka was made in Canada. Crystal Head Vodka has a distinct presentation, having a human skull-shaped bottle of vodka. The founders made this intentional as this symbolizes the legend of the Thirteen Crystal Skulls, which depicts positive energy, enlightenment, and spiritual power. This also has to do with the vodka production as they use electrically charged powders. Crystal Head Vodka is made from peaches and cream corn, being 80 proof.
With origins in Sweden, its name Svedka was decided by the combination of Sweden and vodka. Svedka Vodka is one of the more popular brands in the US market and worldwide, alongside its attractive packaging and new flavors. Svedka Vodka is made from Winter wheat and contains between 70 to 100 proof.
Made in the United States, New Amsterdam Vodka claims that their vodka is smooth in taste and character. Their vodka is filtered three times and distilled 5 times, which is how you can ensure their vodka is clear and smooth in flavor and character. This brand was the fastest vodka brand to hit one million cases to be sold. New Amsterdam Vodka is made from corn and has 70 to 80 proof.
Made from the United States, UV Vodka distills their vodka four times, which is more than the average of other vodka brands. UV also offers flavored vodka such as raspberry and blends more perfectly with cocktails. UV Vodka is made from wheat, potatoes or corn, and consists of 60 or 80 proof.
Made from the Netherlands, what makes Ketel One Vodka different is they make use of pot stills instead of column stills. The alcohol they produce has been known to be similar to that of Ciroc’s. Ketel One Vodka is made from European wheat, with 60 to 80 proof.
Made from Poland, this is a relatively new brand and prides in its alternative flavors that are produced through maceration- the pure spirit is mixed with both dried and frozen fruit. They also honor the Polish rye recipe in their vodka, which makes this brand all the more unique. Belvedere Vodka is made from Rye, consisting of 80 proof.
Produced in France, this vodka is distilled five times to guarantee that it avoids the aftertaste of low-cost vodka brands. Pinnacle has won various international awards due to their excellent job in producing vodka. It’s produced from Winter wheat and consists of between 70-100 proof.
Another brand priding in flavored vodka, Burnett’s Vodka is made from the United States. They’ve released 37 flavors for their vodka, and they won various awards on their remarkable vodka. Burnett’s Vodka is made from grain, with between 70 to 80 proof.
Produced from Latvia, it’s the first to introduce the concept of flavored and premium vodka. Stoli Vodka is a historically significant brand because of this. Their vodka is made from wheat and rye, having between 70 to 100 proof.
This specific vodka brand offers a few flavors, similar to others on this list. It’s made from grain and has 80 proof. Its origins come from the United States.
With the notion that vodka comes from a potato, this is proof of that notion. Made from the United States with a variety of flavors available, it’s made from potato with 80 proof.
It seems that flavors have become a trend with various vodka brands, with Three Olives being the last vodka brand on this list to prove that. Its origins are in England and it’s made from wheat, with 80 proof.
If you’ve noticed above regarding the description under each Vodka brand, what causes it to be branded as a luxury brand is its ingredients. If the ingredients are easily sourced, the price per vodka bottle is most likely cheaper than those with a scarcity of ingredients. For instance, regarding Ciroc, they use grapes and grapes aren’t exactly cost-friendly. This is why Ciroc is one of the most expensive vodka brands on this list.
Another factor that plays a factor in pricing is its production. The way that vodka is produced and made varies, and this is how costs are adjusted accordingly. Distilleries also play a part as a small batch of distilleries naturally cost higher than those of large batches.
What Is The Average Price For Vodka?
USA, UK, Italy
In conclusion, this is an in-depth discussion of everything you need to know regarding vodka pricing and on vodka in general. Vodka is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in the world, and it’s a popular choice- specifically for cocktails and mixed beverages.