An Introduction to Vodka

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Perhaps the most popular distilled spirit that is found in cocktails and in mixed drinks as well as an essential in any bar, is vodka. Known for the characteristic of having no discernible or distinct flavor or even smell, it is frequently clear and thus allows the addition of other ingredients which when mixed in, dominate the flavor thus keeping the focus on the addition, rather than the vodka itself. With thousands of cocktail recipes as well as other recipes such as the Vodka Tonic, the Screwdriver or even the Cosmopolitan for more popular names of drinks, Vodka is also very versatile. Today, the vodka market is continuing to expand and there are many brands to choose from. These names include Absolut, Ketel One, Grey Goose and more. Additionally, there are also many smaller distilleries creating smaller batches of vodka and using intriguing ingredients and methods. It’s challenging to categorize all of the vodkas into one simple recipe. There are many to choose from and many different methods and varieties from which to select. Here is a general idea of what to expect in a good vodka.

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Distillation

Due to its standard method of distillation, it’s frequently called a neutral grain because of how it’s fermented and distilled. The grains used could be corn, rye, wheat or other grains. Even potato vodka has been a popular produce in areas such as Idaho which is famous for potatoes. There are other intriguing bases for vodka including beets and grapes of any variety.

This rectified spirit is often distilled up to three, four, five or even more times in order to refine it. It’s been a common practice for distillers to broadcast the number of times it’s been distilled under the thought that the more it’s distilled, the smoother and cleaner it will taste. As the vodka goes through the distillation process it does become clearer. There are a few distilled vodkas however, that don’t come quite as clean as the other distillations do.

After the distillation process, the vodka is filtered through a charcoal filter. It requires no aging and thus is ready to drink as soon as it’s been distilled. It is however cut from the original still strength to the strength you buy it at in your local liquor store to bottling proof which is generally 80 proof or 40% alcohol by volume.

The neutral taste of vodka relies on another factor that is of vital importance. Water. The fresher, the better. There are some brands that claim they’ve only used mountain spring water or some other superior clean water source in order to create the smoothest vodka available. Some of these claims are actually true and a very vital part of the distillation and the bottling process to make a good quality vodka.

Taste

As vodka has no specific taste on its own, there are a few stylistic differences in the various brands. This includes the texture on your tongue or mouth. Two such brands Vodka1that are quite popular are Absolut and of course, Stolichnaya. The Absolut has an oily and silky sweet feel and the Stolichnaya boasts a clean and watery texture with almost a medicinal taste to it. Of course, today’s vodka market goes above and beyond these basic characteristics. It’s challenging to pigeon hole all of the vodkas into just a few simple categories.

It should also be of note that vodka isn’t always tasteless and thus there are again many specific differences between vodkas. The true flavor of vodka is a subtle and often clear like grain. If you taste enough varieties you’ll eventually pick up on the subtle differences. You’ll learn to taste the difference between higher quality waters such as mountain spring waters and your old fashioned basic old tap water. Soon, you’ll easily note what kind of water was used in the distillation process of your favorite vodka.

Heat

Another frequent term you’ll hear is heat. This refers to the burn that your tongue feels or tastes when you drink your vodka straight. It’s also another great way to tell how pure your vodka is. Heat is determined by how well a distiller puts your vodka through the distillation process. How it’s filtered and how it’s prepared. Less expensive vodka’s are generally more burning than the more costly premium brands of vodka.

Flavored Vodka

Today, vodka is available in nearly any flavor you desire. Flavors such as citrus, berry, chocolate and even desserts and candies. Obscure flavors such as salmon, bacon, tobacco and even hemp are also available. Flavored vodka has exploded on the scene and chances are, if you think of a flavor, it’s available somewhere. Some of the flavors are produced with the infusion method of steeping real fruits, herbs, berries and other flavorings into the vodka. Others, simply add flavoring.

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