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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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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
User Rating:  Rating (2.5/5)
$14.65
Stolichnaya Ohranj
(70cl, 37.50%)
Ohranj is an orange flavoured Russian vodka from Stolichnaya, made with wheat and glacial water.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$31.49
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
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$43.12
A crisp, refreshing cucumber vodka made with organic American rye. Great in a Bloody Mary.  More info
$50.25
Ivan the Terrible Vodka, it's not actually terrible though, it's really rather good, made with infusions of buckwheat honey and cedar nuts. Delicious.  More info
$64.28
42 Below Feijoa Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A new lower ABV version of 42 Below's Vodka made with this Kiwi Fruit (not Kiwi-fruit).  More info
$37.72
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
$47.75
Wyborowa Lemon Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Wyborowa Lemon is a Polish vodka flavoured with Lemons and their essential oils. Brilliant in cocktails of in a vodka and tonic.  More info
$30.25
Absolut Orient Apple
(70cl, 40%)
Apples and Vodka. Charmingly misspelled by Absolut.  More info
$46.16
Helsinki Ice Palace
(70cl, 40%)
A delicious Ukrainian vodka, Helsinki Ice Palace is great in cocktails…  More info
$58.24
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
$117.52
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
$161.08
Krakus Premium
(70cl, 40%)
Krakus Premium is a traditional Polish vodka made with neutral grain spirit and pure, clean water. A cracking vodka for mixed drinks and cocktails. (Get it? Cracking! Krakus! Sorry, I crack myself up...  More info
$38.09
Debowa Black Oak
(70cl, 40%)
Debowa Black Oak is a Polish vodka that has been infused with coffee, chocolate and cinnamon. We assume that Debowa used those three flavours not because the alliteration, but because they taste great...  More info
$48.16
Debowa Red Oak Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A vibrantly colourful vodka from Poland, made by the very well respected company, Debowa. Red Oak Vodka combines the pure, natural flavours of their oak vodka with forest fruit extracts for a sweet...  More info
$46.14
Sloe gin may be popular these days but in the 1970s they were experimenting with sloes and vodka, as you can see here.  More info
$161.08
This is a Russian vodka from the 1970s. Unbelievably many spirits survive in collections and drinks cabinets for decades, the upshot is you can try these spirits from years gone by.  More info
$120.81
Verlof Vodka - 1970s
(100cl, 40%)
This is a rare and collectible bottle of vodka from the Verlof brand. It was produced in Spain in the 1970s.  More info
$201.35
This is a 1970s bottling of the popular Polish vodka, Wyborowa. It is a rye vodka, distilled twice in pot stills.  More info
$161.08
Smirnoff - 1970s 3l
(300cl, 37.50%)
This is a rare 1970s bottle of Smirnoff Red - a classic Russian vodka distilled three times and filtered ten times for purity. This is a collectible edition of the world's best-selling vodka.  More info
$402.69
This is a litre bottle of the classic Russian vodka Stolichnaya. It was distilled from winter wheat, filtered through quartz and charcoal, and was bottled in the 1980s.  More info
$161.08
This is a crisp, intense pepper-flavoured vodka from Poland. It has a vibrant pink hue and was bottled in the 1960s. Very collectible.  More info
$201.35
"Imported from the USSR", this is a very rare and collectible Russian vodka from the Limmonaya company. It boasts a crisp, tangy lemon flavour and is best served chilled. This was bottled in the...  More info
$100.67
Eristow Vodka - 1969
(75cl, 40%)
This is a superb Georgian vodka, named for Prince Nikolai Alexandrovich Eristoff. He fled his country during the Russian revolution and the recipe was passed down to his family who settled in France...  More info
$201.35
Imperial Collection Silver is part of the increased range, now available in the UK from this premium Russian vodka producer.  More info
$36.68
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