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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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Carmel Vodka - 1970s
(76cl, 50%)
This bottle of vodka was made in the 1970s by the Carmel Winery in Israel, whom are still producing wine even today! A rare, collectible piece.  More info
$162.12
Tvarscki Vodka was made by the American Distilling Co. in 1963, when this bottle was produced, although the brand is now owned by a different American company. This is a full quart of American vodka.  More info
$243.17
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
$162.12
An early '80s bottling of classic Russian vodka, Stolichnaya.  More info
$162.12
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
$81.06
A bottle of Finlandia Pineapple flavoured vodka, from the days when their bottles were a bit less fancy and slick. It was produced in 1995 and features a herd of moose carrying the sun on the label.  More info
$121.59
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
$202.64
We think that this bottle of Italian vodka made by Ciro Frassineti in Bologna was produced between 1949 and 1959, putting it at over 50 years old! Unfortunately the label has sustained a tiny bit of...  More info
$243.17
Potentially named after the river that runs through central Russia - The Volga River - the antique bottle of vodka comes from the 1970s. Perfect for spirits collectors.  More info
$162.12
Maraska Cosmopolitan Vodka
(100cl, 37.50%)
Three guesses what cocktail this Croatian vodka would be rather tasty in. Yes, it does seem that Maraska is giving you a hint about how to use their Cosmopolitan Vodka with its name, so go right...  More info
$42.67
Organic vodka infused with whole vanilla beans from Bainbridge Distillers, the first USDA Certified Organic distillery in Washington State. They've even been so kind as to leave a handful of those...  More info
$109.70
A 50cl bottling of Debowa Premium Vodka from Poland. Noteworthy because of the oak-themed bottle, which is unique and pretty darn cool, and because the vodka is made with natural plant extracts...  More info
$60.03
One of the most well known vodkas in the world, Smirnoff Red Label is a well loved favourite in countless bars. This bottling is a well kept antique spirit from the 1970s.  More info
$162.12
Belenkaya Lux
(70cl, 40%)
With a name that means "clearest and purest", you're going to be expecting big things from Belenkaya Lux Russian vodka. It goes through a rigorous filtration process which includes being filtered...  More info
$56.00
Alexander Colors Lemon Vodka is a smooth, delicate flavoured vodka from Italy. Enjoy it ice cold for a fresh, exciting tipple.  More info
$54.51
Alexander Colors Mint Vodka is an Italian vodka which is made with pure water from the Alps. Its mint flavours taste delightfully vivid and fresh.  More info
$54.51
Bottled at 50% abv, this bottle of Smirnoff Blue Label Vodka is stronger than the regular Smirnoff Blue you would normally be able to aquire. Also, it is much, much older, as it was distilled in the...  More info
$202.64
Vlahov Vodka - 1960s
(75cl, 40%)
An uttery jaw-dropping bottle of Vlahov Vodka from the 1960s. We're not sure how ergonomic it is, but it certainly looks impressive.  More info
$202.64
This is a 1970s bottle of Lemon Vodka Rogoschin, produced by the Dutch distiller, Bols.  More info
$162.12
Certainly a piece of spirits history, this bottle of Smirnoff Vodka was produced between 1949 and 1959, making it over 50 years old!  More info
$243.17
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
$202.64
Finlandia Mango 37.5%
(70cl, 37.50%)
Mangoes don't grow in Finland. Finlandia, however, make a pretty amazing mango flavoured vodka. How do they do it? They import them, of course! "The Tropics meet the Arctic" in this 37.5% bottling.  More info
$42.77
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
$36.22
1960s Pepper Vodka from Polmos! Warming and eminently collectible Polish vodka, possibly great with steak? Preferably not a 1960s steak though.  More info
$202.64
It's lucky that at the Master of Malt office, we have a team of spirit detectives (detectives who investigate drinks, not ghost detectives), otherwise we may not have known this was a 1970s bottle of...  More info
$162.12
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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.