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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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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
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A classic Polish delight, bisongrass vodka matches the light, fragrant notes of the plant with a traditional clean mouth feel. Grasovka Bisongrass Vodka is an aromatic spirit made with natural...  More info
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Kryshtal Etalon Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A very pure-tasting Belarusian vodka, Etalon is purified and filtered many times. A good all-rounder…  More info
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Diamond Standard Vodka is made with Polish rye grain that is distilled four times and filtered four times too (once through diamonds, of course) for a high level of purity. The bottled even has a 25mm...  More info
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Element 29 is a delicious British vodka distilled from East Anglian wheat. The grains are mashed, malted and fermented in Manchester before seven distillations in a state-of-the-art tower. It was...  More info
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£29.90
Cariel Vodka
(70cl, 40.70%)
This is made by blending what and barley spirit before dilution with purest spring water. Cariel vodka is a premium Swedish vodka with gentle sweetness and great balance.  More info
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£28.85
Snow Queen Vodka 1.5l
(150cl, 40%)
A very clean tasting vodka from Kazakhstan. It is five times distilled from wheat and made with pure water from the ice-capped mountains.  More info
£64.95
Cape North Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Like many distillers, Cape North have a fascination with purity when it comes to their vodka. They compare it to water, in that good water must be clean and fresh. They slowly distil their vodka in...  More info
£28.56
All the way from Western Australia comes this fresh small batch vodka.
It is produced by the Great Southern Distilling Company who also produce gin and the state's first legal single malt whiskies.  More info
£54.95
Sacred Organic Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Produced by the award-winning microdistiller Ian Hart, this vodka from the Sacred company is made on Highgate Hill in London and it was certified organic by the Soil Association in 2009.  More info
£27.46
Glen's Vodka 35cl
(35cl, 37.50%)
A half bottle of Glen's Vodka, a Scottish vodka distilled from sugar beet. It's not going to win any medals, but it is very cheap.  More info
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£7.54
Smirnoff Red Vodka 35cl
(35cl, 37.50%)
A half bottle of Smirnoff Red. Three times distilled and ten times filtered for greater purity.  More info
£8.46
Russian Standard 1.5l
(150cl, 40%)
Vodka, Insurance and Banking - that's what Russian Standard do. Now take a second, take a step back, and try and imagine the Macallan Credit Card, or the Health plan from Bombay Sapphire. Got to love...  More info
£39.34
Smirnoff Lime
(70cl, 37.50%)
Smirnoff Lime is crisp and tangy. It is made using pot still vodka, which is filtered through seven tons of charcoal!  More info
£17.85
A wonderful Ukrainian vodka with an authentic, fresh Cranberry flavour. Great in a Cosmopolitan!  More info
£25.20
Helsinki Ice Palace
(70cl, 40%)
A delicious Ukrainian vodka, Helsinki Ice Palace is great in cocktails…  More info
£34.71
Chase Vodka Magnum
(150cl, 40%)
A magnum of the excellent Chase Vodka. This is complex stuff, and although it's great over ice, try it at room temperature too for the full range of flavours.  More info
£84.75
Marquis Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Polish Marquis Vodka is made from specially selected rye and distilled in Europe's tallest column stills at the famous Polmos Bialystok distillery.  More info
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£31.20
Marquis Vodka Magnum
(150cl, 40%)
A magnum of Polish Marquis Vodka, made from specially selected rye and distilled in Europe's tallest column stills at the famous Polmos Bialystok distillery.  More info
£70.04
Smirnoff Vanilla
(70cl, 37.50%)
Smirnoff Vodka, triple distilled and known worldwide, flavoured with the essence of vanilla, which has imparted a sweet, subtly floral flavour profile to the back bar classic.  More info
£18.00
A 1970s bottle of Stoli. Amazing condition and an immediately recognisable brand, with a label that's changed very little in the last 40 years (that's the famous Hotel Moskva in the background if you...  More info
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Xellent Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Xellent is a Swiss vodka made from "bread-quality" rye grown at altitudes of up to 800 metres. They use pure glacier water to dilute their triple-distilled spirit down to 40% abv.  More info
£36.73
Eristow Vodka - 1970s
(75cl, 40%)
The story goes that this vodka was created for the Georgian prince, Nikolai Alexandrovich Eristoff, in 1806 and the recipe was passed down through his family when he fled Russia during the revolution...  More info
£96.00
Beluga's five-times-filtered Gold Line Vodka, presented in a handsome leather gift box. Top quality stuff - great mouth-feel and personality to it. The bottle is wax sealed, hence why it comes with a...  More info
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A special edition bottling of Russian vodka from Beluga, produced in honour of the Russian transatlantic sailing team and their successes in competitions.  More info
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