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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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Yamazaki Whisky Distillery
The Hot Enough Vodka Co
St George Spirits
That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Balcones Whisky Distillery
Compass Box Distillery
Russian Standard
(70cl, 40%)
Russian Standard vodka has been distilled to the Tsar's "premium quality standard" since 1894. It is a classic Russian vodka.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$25.01
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
$62.91
Imperia is a premium vodka from Russian Standard. This is filtered through quartz and charcoal for exceptional purity.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$55.01
The premium version of best-selling Russian Standard Vodka.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$29.54
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
$115.14
Russkaya Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Made in Russia, Russkaya is a superb vodka distilled from wheat, rye and malted barley. It is made with naturally spring-softened water, and even undergoes filtration through both quartz and birch...  More info
$30.85
Russkaya is a superb Russian vodka made with specially refined water and filtered through birch coal and charcoal sand. This is a 1970s bottling of it, and is rather rare.  More info
$95.95
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
$45.51
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
$54.93
Sherematov Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
The two headed eagle on the label of this Sherematov Vodka, a triple distilled vodka from Belgium, has two crowns, on for each head. Very smart. Originally produced for Pascoe & Associates Ltd.  More info
$34.30
Sipsmith Barley Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Produced in the workshop previously used by the late, great Michael Jackson (whisky writer, not Moonwalker), this superb vodka is distilled from English Barley. Distilled in a marvellously compact pot...  More info
$46.95
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
$44.02
A superbly sippable vodka from Londson distillers, Sipsmith. Made with a base of English wheat in their 300 litre copper-pot still, charmingly called Prudence, this vodka makes a mightily mean Vesper...  More info
$45.22
Skyy Citrus
(70cl, 37.50%)
Citrus Flavoured Vodka from San Francisco Producer Skyy.  More info
$34.08
Passion Fruit Flavoured Vodka from San Francisco Based producer Skyy.  More info
$34.08
Skyy Infusions Raspberry
(70cl, 37.50%)
Raspberry Flavoured Vodka from San Francisco Based producer Skyy.  More info
$34.08
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
$31.17
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
$153.51
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)
$28.27
Smirnoff Blue
(70cl, 45%)
A super premium vodka from Smirnoff. Blue is triple distilled and beautifully presented.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$33.18
A retro bottle of Smirnoff Blue Label Vodka from the 1970s. The Blue Label variety is stronger than your classic red label Smirnoff, although it does differ between 45% and 50% abv from country to...  More info
$191.89
Smirnoff Blueberry
(70cl, 37.50%)
A fantastically fruity Smirnoff. This is made with pot-still vodka, which is filtered through a whopping seven tons of charcoal. It is flavoured naturally with blueberry, and it works well in...  More info
$27.57
Smirnoff Espresso
(70cl, 37.50%)
Coffee Vodka. Mmmmmm.  More info
$37.87
Just like the classic Smirnoff Red Label, Smirnoff Export Strength is triple distilled and filtered ten times for its distinctive purity. Their blue label Export Strength variant, however, is bottled...  More info
$34.68
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
$55.01
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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.