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Vodka

Unquestionably a supremely popular spirit, Vodka is enjoyed around the globe thanks to its incredible versatility and, surprisingly, even its variation of flavour. Whilst typically enjoyed in the West as a means of adding spirit to mixed drinks, thanks to the superb quality and attention-to-detail found in craft Vodkas produced around the world, flavoursome premium Vodka is really burgeoning on the drinks scene.

As with anything universally popular, the origins of Vodka are hotly disputed, though most agree that its beginnings lie either in Poland or Russia. Ancient records date Vodka production in Russia centuries ago, with a number of early pharmaceutical lists referencing the “vodka of bread wine”. The earliest recorded use of the term “Vodka” was in 1405, in a set of Polish court documents in which it was placed alongside medicines and cosmetics.

In Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries, Vodka is traditionally consumed neat, differing from the Western world where it is usually mixed. The word itself derives from the Slavic “voda”, meaning water, etymologically linking the term with whisky (which comes from the Gaelic “uisge beatha”, the Scandinavian term Akvavit from the Latin “aqua vitae” and French “eau-de-vie” - all meaning water of life). It seems that a great number of spirits from around the world were once thought to be elixirs of life, containing mystical properties. Prior to the 1950s, Vodka was very rarely drunk outside of Europe, but thanks to its easily mixed flavour profile (and appearance), by 1975 sales of Vodka in America had surpassed those of bourbon.

Plain Vodka

Often fairly neutral in flavour, many commercial Vodkas can be mixed with pretty much anything. This is often due to numerous distillations and filtrations which popular vodkas (such as Smirnoff or Russian Standard) undergo, with advertising campaigns regularly flaunting a particular Vodka as being the “purest”.

Here at Master of Malt, however, we like our Vodka to be complex and bursting with flavour, and Vodka really can do both. It all begins with the base ingredient.

Poland, one of the motherlands of Vodka, tends to use either rye or potatoes. Popular rye vodkas include Belvedere or Wyborowa, and are notable for their bread-like sweetness and hints of spice. Potato vodkas on the other hand (brands such as Luksusowa, Chopin, or the English brand, Chase) tend to have a creamy, buttery, grainy character.

Scandinavian and Russian vodkas tend to be distilled from cereal grains such as wheat or barley. Sweden’s Absolut, for example, is a wheat vodka with a soft aniseed-like flavour with a little spice. For barley vodka, Finlandia, produced in Finland, offers nutty flavours and lasting spice.

For something completely different, France’s Ciroc is actually made of grapes, and is a rounded, fruity spirit.

Flavoured Vodka

Nowadays, the use of quality flavouring ingredients such as fruit and spice result in a variety of fine flavoured vodkas which allow for numerous fascinating and delicious mixed drinks.

For splendid examples of fruit-flavoured vodkas, try Davna Cherry Vodka or some of the fruity spirits in the English Vodka Company’s range.

For spicy vodka, Absolut Peppar works nicely in cocktails, or, if you’re feeling truly brave, have a sip of the exceedingly hot Naga Chilli Vodkas from The ‘Hot Enough’ Vodka Company.

Vodka

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Smirnoff Espresso
(70cl, 37.50%)
Coffee Vodka. Mmmmmm.  More info
$31.10
In celebration of its popularity among the crowd that live for the night-life (not vampires), the Night Edition of Stolichnaya features a glow in the dark label that you'll only be able to see at...  More info
$31.44
A wonderful vodka from Blackwoods, this is triple distilled over Nordic Birch charcoal and is also the first vodka ever to be "ice-filtered". It's how they distil it - ice cold, no mistakes. This...  More info
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$32.87
Smirnoff Black
(70cl, 40%)
Smirnoff Black is a special vodka made in copper pot stills, distilled from Russian grains, and filtered through silver birch charcoal. Very smooth and supple.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$29.69
Absolut Peppar
(50cl, 40%)
Very spicy and full bodied pepper vodka from Sweden. Made with pure, creamy Absolut vodka, Absolut Peppar makes a corking Bloody Mary.  More info
$23.04
A cinnamon-flavoured edition of the world's best selling vodka complete with floating pieces of gold leaf. Perhaps they'd been watching Superbad and wondered why that gold flake vodka didn't exist...  More info
$57.77
Pinky Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Pinky Vodka is a beautifully packaged vodka flavoured with rose petals, violets and wild strawberries.  More info
$50.31
Eristoff Black Vodka
(70cl, 20%)
Named for the Eristoff family, which originated in what is now Georgia. This is the Black variant, with a wild berry flavour.  More info
$27.54
Chase Rhubarb Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Sweet, fruity Rhubarb Vodka from Chase in Hereford, now with a fancy bottle to match the rest of the Chase Vodka range. They make this gorgeous stuff by cooking the rhubarb, marinading it in their...  More info
$56.44
Ketel One Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A Dutch vodka produced at a distillery owned by a family-run business which was started in 1691. This was released in the UK in 1999 and has a great flavour profile.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$39.10
Made to the recipe of a 500 year old witches potion from the Czech Republic, Babicka is a blend of vodka flavoured with wormwood and various herbs. It is named after 16th Century Czechoslovakian...  More info
$49.04
Silver Rocks Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Produced in Poland, Silver Rocks is a delicious rye vodka with a sweet, faintly spicy flavour. Very good neat or in a Vodka Martini.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$45.31
Absolut Vanilia
(70cl, 40%)
A lovely fresh and clean vanilla flavoured vodka. Absolut Vanilia has a rich, buttery flavour with hints of cocoa and plenty of fresh vanilla.  More info
$31.64
Sacred Spiced Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Sacred Spiced is a superb spiced vodka which is vacuum-distilled by Ian Hart in Highgate Hill, London. It is flavoured with seven botanicals including nutmeg, angelica and distilled frankincense!  More info
$57.69
If you though the original Roberto Cavalli Vodka was stylish, have a gander at the Roberto Cavalli Night Edition. The first in a series of personalised and limited edition bottles, this has been all...  More info
$83.06
Absolut Mandrin
(70cl, 40%)
A crisp and balanced Swedish flavoured Vodka. Absolut Mandrin is flavoured with mandarin, oranges and other citrus. There is no added sugar.  More info
$31.17
Volk Vodka
(75cl, 40%)
Following Russian traditions and recipes, Volk Vodka is filtered 8 times in different ways, including through charcoal and quartz. It is produced and bottled in Moldova.  More info
$41.36
Blackdown Sussex Vodka
(70cl, 37.50%)
Although they are quite a new company, Blackdown certainly seem to know what they want to do and how to go about achieving it. The Blackdown Vodka, for example, made from 100% British wheat grain, has...  More info
$55.40
This is the 2011 limited edition damson vodka from London distillers Sipsmith. It boasts a delicious bitter sweet flavour that makes it very much suitable for cocktails or indeed to drink by itself.  More info
$45.49
A flavoured vodka from Franska Bukten (French Bay) in Sweden. This is flavoured with pears, strawberries and mint, and it's rather delicious. Aivy is particularly good as a summer spirit for a...  More info
$33.10
Absolut Blue
(70cl, 40%)
Absolut Vodka is a classic tasting vodka distilled from winter wheat. The recipe is over 30 years old and the bottle design is based on an 18th century medicine flask.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$30.63
A South African vodka, distilled from molasses. Mainstay was awarded the Vodka Trophy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2007.  More info
$35.28
Naked Chase Vodka
(70cl, 42%)
A wonderful English vodka made with apples from their Herefordshire orchards. Naked Chase is a pure, fresh vodka, with a hint of apple on the nose.  More info
$55.54
This stunning flavoured vodka from 42 Below is made with Manuka honey, a type of honey which is made by allowing bees to collect from the Manuka tree. This vodka is entirely made in New Zealand and is...  More info
$36.36
Grey Goose L'Orange
(70cl, 40%)
French vodka flavoured with the essence of the orange. This is made with Champagne limestone filtered water. In 2001 this was awarded gold at the Beverage Packaging Global Award. They were right to...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$56.68
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ATOM Supplies Ltd trading as Master of Malt. Registered office: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BE. Registered in England & Wales. Company number 3193057, VAT number GB 662241553.