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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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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)
$28.92
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
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$53.92
A smashing vodka from Californ-I-A, this was created by Jorg Rupf and Lance Winters. They used pot stilled viognier wine which is blended in a column still with wheat vodka. The result is perfectly...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$46.89
Cleveland Bay is a proudly British artisan vodka made to rival vodkas from Eastern Europe. Made using British potatoes, along with other fantastic ingredients from our lovely island, Cleveland Bay...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$75.32
Roberto Cavalli Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Yep, that's right. Roberto Cavalli. The Fashion Designer. Can't really be bothered to finish this tasting note, I think I'm just going to hop in my car (upholstered by Benjamin Netanyahu), and drive...  More info
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$76.98
Potocki Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A Polish Rye Vodka - very smooth, but not to the point of flavourlessness (is that even a word?). The producers recommend drinking the vodka Chilled but not Frozen in order to preserve the more...  More info
$54.10
Hangar One's Mandarin Blossom vodka is made with fresh tangerines and their flowers. The result is stunning, fresh and very intense.  More info
$49.39
Lemon flavoured vodka from Soviet Russia, that may well be the definition of cool, we don't know...  More info
$162.67
Smirnoff Green Apple
(70cl, 37.50%)
Crisp, fruity version of Smirnoff. This is made using pot-distilled spirit, filtered through seven tons of charcoal, before it is naturally flavoured with green apple.  More info
$29.21
Skyy Premium Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A premium vodka from America, this is distilled using four column stills, before undergoing a triple filtration. Skyy is made with Californian water.  More info
$33.03
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)
$267.56
Known for their popular London Dry Gin, Two Birds have now moved into the vodka category with this combination of barley and sugar beet spirit.  More info
$50.11
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
$54.48
Smirnoff Red 1l
(100cl, 37.50%)
A litre bottle of Smirnoff Red - the world's best selling vodka. Thrice distilled and ten times filtered for purity.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (2.0/5)
$45.73
Smirnoff Red Vodka
(70cl, 37.50%)
Smirnoff Red is triple distilled and ten times filtered for purity. This is the world's best selling vodka.  More info
$25.47
A vodka liqueur based on the delicious bloody mary, Bloodshot is made from pure grain spirit, distilled seven times, with various extracts and botanicals added.
It can be drunk either neat or on the...  More info
$30.01
A small batch American vodka. This is made in numbered batches, distilled from potatoes, malted summer wheat and malted barley. Each batch is limited to 5 cases, distilled under the careful eye of the...  More info
$57.63
Skyy Citrus
(70cl, 37.50%)
Citrus Flavoured Vodka from San Francisco Producer Skyy.  More info
$36.11
A beautiful oak-aged vodka made with their Longshore barley vodka which is matured in both American and French oak barrels before bottling at a higher-than-average proof. Another surefire hit from...  More info
$52.43
Absolut Pears
(70cl, 40%)
Absolut Pears is a delicious pear flavoured vodka from Sweden. This is made using continuous distillation and is incredibly pure tasting. Distilled from winter wheat and naturally flavoured with pear.  More info
$31.92
The Alexander Colors Vodka is made in Italy by Bottega, a well known and talented spirits producer who obviously know their way around a still if this brilliantly pure spirit is anything to go by.  More info
$54.70
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
$59.02
Belvedere Unfiltered is the result of using 100% "Single Estate" Dankowskie Diamond Rye to make vodka. This grain is baker's grade so not only can you make vodka out of the stuff you can also bake a...  More info
$203.10
Finlandia Grapefruit
(70cl, 37.50%)
This Finnish vodka offers the subtle tanginess of fresh grapefruit, which makes it a wonderful addition to many cocktails.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$31.33
Debowa Crystal Oak
(70cl, 40%)
Made with a special selection of plant extracts and with an ancient distillation method, Debowa Crystal Oak is a smooth, premium Polish vodka.  More info
$45.72
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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.