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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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This is a tasty and highly collectible Russian vodka. Krepkaya is actually the Russian term to describe vodkas of 56%abv and over - just like this one. Very good in cocktails.  More info
$119.10
Flavoured with juicy, tangy Gala Apples, this fresh-tasting Russian vodka from Stolichnaya works superbly well in cocktails, or with tonic and plenty of ice.  More info
$32.07
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
$29.82
A 1.5 litre version of Kalinska Imperial vodka. This is a cheap and cheerful mixer distilled from molasses.  More info
$48.28
The English Vodka Company makes its raspberry vodka very simply: freshly picked fruit, washed and placed in a bottle full of 37.5% English Spirit Vodka. Then nature is left to take its course...  More info
$46.32
Made in Russia, Imperial Golden Snow is a super-premium vodka made with the pure, glacial water of Lake Ladoga. It is produced with a 12-stage purification process, and even comes with flakes of real...  More info
$64.51
This is a collectible bottle of Ukrainian vodka, flavoured with lemons, as you can clearly ascertain from the lemons on the label. It was produced in the 1990s.  More info
$79.40
The word Stolichnaya translates as 'capital city' and the logo features a famous Moscow landmark. This bottling dates from the 1970s.  More info
$119.10
A classic Russian vodka from Stolichnaya. This is distilled from winter wheat and is filtered through quartz and charcoal, then quartz once more.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$31.68
Debowa Premium Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Made with natural plant extracts, Debowa Premium is a top-quality Polish vodka which comes packaged in a smart oak-themed bottle! Very good stuff.  More info
$58.81
Batch 6 of the always scrummy Case Rhubarb Vodka, made by adding the pink fruit/vegetable/whatever rhubarb is to the final distillation and macerate it in the final distillate.

We're still no...  More info
$58.94
Produced by Licores Veracruz Distillers in Cordoba, Villa Lobos Platinum vodka is distilled to 55% abv, and it's very tasty indeed - full of character!  More info
$46.30
Absolut Unique
(70cl, 40%)
Absolut Unique is a superb special edition Swedish vodka, so-named for the fact that each bottle is unique - painted with different shapes and colours.

NB. As the name suggests, each bottle is...  More info
$35.15
Absolut Ruby Red
(70cl, 40%)
A rather tasty fruit vodka from Absolut. This was launched in June 2006, and is flavoured with grapefruit. Delicious!  More info
Karlssons Gold
(70cl, 40%)
This was created by Börje Karlsson, the Master Swedish Blender who came up with Absolut vodka's unique recipe. This particular vodka is distilled from new potatoes and, unusually for vodka, is only...  More info
$52.34
Silver Rocks Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Produced in Poland, Silver Rocks is a delicious rye vodka with a sweet, faintly spicy flavour. Very good neat or in a Vodka Martini.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$44.63
This was launched in 1994, and is made with real cranberries for a tangy, fresh flavour which makes it a great addition to many cocktails.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$30.11
Taziana Vodka - 1970s
(75cl, 40%)
This is a hard to find bottle of Taziana Vodka, distilled in the 1970s. There seems to be some sort of grain inside the bottle. We're pretty sure it's meant to be there.  More info
$158.80
A wonderful gift set from Polish vodka makers, Chopin. This set includes a 20cl bottle of the standard Chopin potato vodka, as well as a 20cl bottle of their brilliant rye vodka, all handsomely...  More info
$73.05
Popular in Russian, Pertsovka is a flavoured vodka made with pepper and honey, which is sure to warm you up on a cold evening. This bottle comes from the 1970s.  More info
$158.80
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
$47.47
Rhubarb is not only added for the final distillation but is then subsequently macerated in the final distillate, which is where the tremendous pink hue comes from. Yummers!

We're still waiting for...  More info
$58.94
Aivy is a Swedish brand of superbly creamy, rich flavoured vodkas. Aivy Black is a triple-flavoured spirit, flavoured with mint, lemon and blackcurrant. The result is great in cocktails.  More info
$40.86
Grey Goose La Poire
(70cl, 40%)
Produced with essence of Anjou pears, blended by the Maitre de Chai with Grey Goose vodka. This is a sophisticated, well-balanced fruit vodka.  More info
$57.61
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
$51.18

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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.