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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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Polugar Wheat Spirit
(70cl, 38.50%)
A Polish wheat spirit, made to a classic Russian vodka recipe from the days of yore. The distillers behind Polugar trice distil the spirit in a copper pot still and then clarify it using birch wood...  More info
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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
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Puschkin Vodka
(70cl, 37.50%)
Puschkin Vodka is a German spirit distilled to a classic recipe and even goes through an ice filtration process to achieve a delicious purity. It comes in a handsome bottle with a bear giving us a...  More info
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Well would you look at this, an antique bottling of Puschkin Vodka, produced between 1949 and 1959. The German brand is still available today, although in a much more modern style of bottle with a...  More info
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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
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A new premium vodka complete with sleek design courtesy of Quintessentially Spirits, (whose CEO, Rowland Hill, used to be chief exec. at Snow Queen Vodka) in conjunction with G&J Greenall.  More info
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Raspberry Vodka
(50cl, 22%)
A fruity vodka from Scots Cheer. This is smooth grain vodka infused with raspberries.  More info
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Relsky Vodka - 1960s
(75cl, 40%)
Relsky Vodka from the 1960s, featuring a rather happy looking chap on the label with a great big bushy beard that would suit a police officer in a quiet village in the South West of England.  More info
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Reyka Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Reyka is an Icelandic vodka, distilled from wheat and barley. It is also the world's first "green" vodka, it being made from glacial water and distilled using sustainable energy from geothermal heat.  More info
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If you though the original Roberto Cavalli Vodka was stylish, have a gander at the Roberto Cavalli Night Edition. The first in a series of personalised and limited edition bottles, this has been all...  More info
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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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The two headed bird on the label of this Romanoff Lemon Vodka, made by Principe Dimitri in the 1960s, has wings covered in crests of even more two headed birds. Pretty fancy, right?  More info
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Romanoff Vodka - 1970s
(38cl, 37.40%)
During the 1970s, this bottle of Romanoff Vodka was produced in England. At least 30 years old, this is a cracking antique for spirits collectors. Romanoff Vodka is still available today and is...  More info
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Made from the finest organically-grown winter harvest rye grain, which is then five times distilled and placed in a pretty awesome bottle. Excellent over ice or in cocktails. Sadly, if you gather...  More info
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Dragon. Vodka. Automatically cool.  More info
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A magnum bottle of the supremely luxurious Royal Dragon Imperial Vodka, made with winter rye which is five times distilled. It's also got 23-caret gold leaves floating inside it, which is rather apt...  More info
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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
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$24.55
Russian Standard 1.5l
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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
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Imperia is a premium vodka from Russian Standard. This is filtered through quartz and charcoal for exceptional purity.  More info
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The premium version of best-selling Russian Standard Vodka.  More info
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$34.11
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
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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
$30.14
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
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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
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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
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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.