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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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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
£20.88
A Polish vodka, flavoured with a selection of dried herbs, fruits and caramel. Rather sweet with some depth at the core.  More info
£16.03
This unsually named vodka from Hangar One is made with Buddha's Hand citrons, one of the oldest of the citrus fruits. Buddha's Hands are entirely made of pith, thus the fact you can't buy them in...  More info
£31.13
A chocolate and raspberry flavoured vodka from the stalwart Russian producers Stolichnaya. Fruity and very rich.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
£18.77
Arbikie Potato Vodka
(70cl, 43%)
From the Arbikie Distillery, which overlooks the Lunan Bay in Angus in the Scottish Highlands, comes their super-premium Potato Vodka. It's made using three types of potato - Maris Piper, King Edward...  More info
£41.88
Cold River Vodka
(75cl, 40%)
Cold River is a creamy and very distinctive vodka made by the American company, Maine Distilleries. They grow the potatoes on their own farm, get the water from a nearby aquifer and even bottle it...  More info
£40.57
Grey Goose Magnum
(150cl, 40%)
A magnum of delicious Grey Goose vodka, made with French wheat from La Beauce which is distilled in a five step process with artesian spring water which is filtered through Champagne limestone.  More info
£97.51
Absolut Orient Apple
(70cl, 40%)
Apples and Vodka. Charmingly misspelled by Absolut.  More info
£19.51
Blackwoods Botanical Vodka is distilled five times before it is infused with botanicals using bonification to give it a refined flavour profile. The four botanicals used are meadow sweet, sea pink...  More info
£25.22
Mixing coconut and chocolate isn't something incredibly new, because Bounty bars have been around for years. However, the Stolichnaya Vodka Chocolat Kokonut is the first time the sweet and earthy...  More info
£25.90
Smirnoff Espresso
(70cl, 37.50%)
Coffee Vodka. Mmmmmm.  More info
£23.68
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
£23.59
Grey Goose Le Citron
(70cl, 40%)
This is made with the zest of fresh lemons, and it is a brilliant fruit vodka with loads of flavour. Grey Goose use an essence of fresh lemons created by one of France's top fragrance houses.  More info
£34.83
Skyy Infusions Raspberry
(70cl, 37.50%)
Raspberry Flavoured Vodka from San Francisco Based producer Skyy.  More info
£21.31
Ciroc Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Ciroc is a five times distilled French vodka made with grapes that are harvested when frozen. This is a very fancy and chic premium vodka.  More info
£32.15
Using a blend of potato varieties grown in Poland and pure Polish water, Vestal have produced a supremely flavoursome vodka. Vestal greatly value the aromas and flavours from the vodka, and this is...  More info
£32.25
Wratislavia Vodka
(50cl, 40%)
Don't you just love when a bottle is as beautiful as the spirit inside it? Wratislavia Vodka is a well made Polish vodka, filtered many times to obtain a pure, elegant palate. As if that wasn't enough...  More info
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£31.82
Absolut Raspberri
(70cl, 40%)
Made from Winter wheat and pure water from a deep Swedish well. Absolut Raspberri is naturally flavoured with fresh raspberries.  More info
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£18.84
This V Gallery Cucumber Vodka is a delicious flavoured vodka which has uses spirit that has been 5 times distilled. Technically, cucumbers are fruit, which makes this a fruit flavoured vodka. You...  More info
£19.29
Ciroc Red Berry
(70cl, 37.50%)
Ciroc is a five-times-distilled vodka made from grapes which have been harvested when frozen. For this sweetly flavoured edition, it is blended with essences of raspberries and strawberries to give it...  More info
£28.44
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
£22.80
Chase 3l Vodka
(300cl, 40%)
A Jeroboam (really, really big bottle) of deliciously creamy Chase potato vodka, this stuff was awarded a Double Gold medal at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, beating 114 other...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
£157.90
Cossack Vodka - 1974
(75cl, 37.50%)
J & J Vickers produced the wonderful Cossack Vodka not in Russia but in London. This rare bottling comes from 1974.  More info
£96.00
A super premium Russian vodka made at the state-owned Moscow Distillery Cristall, and named for Vladimir Putin! This has been lauded by critics…  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.0/5)
£37.95
Grey Goose La Poire
(70cl, 40%)
Produced with essence of Anjou pears, blended by the Maitre de Chai with Grey Goose vodka. This is a sophisticated, well-balanced fruit vodka.  More info
£34.95
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