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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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Sherematov Vodka
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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
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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
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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
$154.47
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Smirnoff Vanilla
(70cl, 37.50%)
Smirnoff Vodka, triple distilled and known worldwide, flavoured with the essence of vanilla, which has imparted a sweet, subtly floral flavour profile to the back bar classic.  More info
$28.96
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
$231.70
Considering the amount of Smirnoff that is drunk by all the discotheque and 'club' goers every Friday night, it's surprising that there's a 1970s bottle of this unmistakable vodka left. A rarity for...  More info
$231.70
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
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Soroka Vodka - 1970s
(70cl, 40%)
This elegant bottling of Boaka's 1970s Soroka vodka is very rare and was produced for the German market.  More info
$154.47
An early '80s bottling of classic Russian vodka, Stolichnaya.  More info
$154.47
A rare 1970s bottling of Stolichnaya Russian vodka. This is a 1 litre bottle.  More info
$231.70
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
$154.47
Rare Sunflower Vodka, produced in China during the 1970s. Lovely design this collectible bottle has. We're quite sure this isn't made with sunflowers, but think how interesting that would be!  More info
$193.08
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
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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
$193.08
A magnum bottle Vladivar, a thrice distilled, charcoal filtered Scottish vodka from Whyte and Mackay.  More info
$48.72
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
$193.08
This is a 1970s bottling of the popular Polish vodka, Wyborowa. It is a rye vodka, distilled twice in pot stills.  More info
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Xellent Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Xellent is a Swiss vodka made from "bread-quality" rye grown at altitudes of up to 800 metres. They use pure glacier water to dilute their triple-distilled spirit down to 40% abv.  More info
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Yurinka Vodka - 1970s
(100cl, 37.50%)
An old bottling of Yurinka Vodka. It was made in Spain and sports a traditional-looking coat of arms and blocky font on the label. The 1970s may not have been great for vodka label design, but the...  More info
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Zorza Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Premium Vodka - excellent on the rocks, or sipped neat.  More info
$55.99
A very stylish gift pack of U'Luvka Polish Vodka, made with rye, barley and wheat. Alongside the uniquely shaped bottle, there are two handsome glasses which have no bases, harking back to an old...  More info
$63.99
A rare 1.5 litre bottling of vodka produced in Italy during the 1960s!  More info
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V Gallery Gift Set
(20cl, 21%)
A rather pleasing gift set of 4 x 5cl samples of V Gallery Vodka, including scrummy flavours like Toffee Fudge, Marshmallow, Mango Crush and Cucumber, all of which are five times distilled...  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.