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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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Glenfarclas Whisky Distillery
Maple Whiskey Liqueur
St George Spirits
Bruichladdich Octomore
Filliers Distillery
The Hot Enough Vodka Co
Green Mark Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Green Mark is a Russian vodka named for the seal of approval bestowed upon good vodka by the Glavspirttrest between the 1920s and 1950s. This bottle bears that very seal and the vodka within is really...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$27.54
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
$61.46
Smirnoff Red Vodka 35cl
(35cl, 37.50%)
A half bottle of Smirnoff Red. Three times distilled and ten times filtered for greater purity.  More info
$13.22
Stolichnaya Citros Vodka
(70cl, 37.50%)
This deliciously tangy vodka from Stolichnaya is made with various citrus fruits, particularly lemons and limes. It works really well in a vodka and tonic, or as the base for a Cosmopolitan, in which...  More info
$28.62
Kryshtal Etalon Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A very pure-tasting Belarusian vodka, Etalon is purified and filtered many times. A good all-rounder…  More info
$55.83
Element 29 is a delicious British vodka distilled from East Anglian wheat. The grains are mashed, malted and fermented in Manchester before seven distillations in a state-of-the-art tower. It was...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$41.17
Glen's Vodka 35cl
(35cl, 37.50%)
A half bottle of Glen's Vodka, a Scottish vodka distilled from sugar beet. It's not going to win any medals, but it is very cheap.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (2.5/5)
$11.78
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
$45.35
Debowa Crystal Oak
(70cl, 40%)
Made with a special selection of plant extracts and with an ancient distillation method, Debowa Crystal Oak is a smooth, premium Polish vodka.  More info
$42.15
UK 5 Organic Vodka
(70cl, 37.50%)
An Organic vodka produced in the UK, this is a very pure, naturally made vodka, without any dangerous chemicals of additives in it.  More info
$45.68
Snow Queen Vodka 1.5l
(150cl, 40%)
A very clean tasting vodka from Kazakhstan. It is five times distilled from wheat and made with pure water from the ice-capped mountains.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.0/5)
$101.47
Stolichnaya Sticki Honey
(70cl, 37.50%)
This is a honey flavoured vodka from Stoli, ideal for giving a cocktail a sweet twist.  More info
$28.62
Cariel Vodka
(70cl, 40.70%)
This is made by blending what and barley spirit before dilution with purest spring water. Cariel vodka is a premium Swedish vodka with gentle sweetness and great balance.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$52.85
A delicious American vodka from top producers Square One, this is made with 100% organic American rye. It also includes ingredients such as pear, camomile, lavender and rosemary.  More info
$51.62
A classic Polish delight, bisongrass vodka matches the light, fragrant notes of the plant with a traditional clean mouth feel. Grasovka Bisongrass Vodka is an aromatic spirit made with natural...  More info
$33.01
Finlandia Mango 40%
(70cl, 40%)
Fresh, fruity mango vodka from Finlandia. This has a great flavour and works very well in a variety of cocktails.  More info
$28.34
A subtly flavoured vodka from Brennen & Brown in Cheltenham. The warming notes of cardamom appear first, swiftly followed by the sweetness of plum. Enjoy it over ice in the garden, perhaps somewhere...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (0.5/5)
$49.99
Vladivar Imperial
(70cl, 37.50%)
Vladivar is a Scottish vodka made by Whyte and Mackay. It is triple distilled and charcoal filtered.  More info
$21.48
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
$50.70
Smirnoff Red 1l
(100cl, 37.50%)
A litre bottle of Smirnoff Red - the world's best selling vodka. Thrice distilled and ten times filtered for purity.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (2.0/5)
$42.17
A unique vodka made from certified organic cereals, which is cask matured before a final pot distillation. Owing to the oak maturation, this vodka has a round and full mouthfeel with real flavour...  More info
$51.02
I Spirit Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Top quality Italian vodka which was introduced in 2009. The ingredients do suggest a reverence for Italy's spirit, using both grapes and grains to create the distillate, as well as spring water from...  More info
$40.76
Known for their popular London Dry Gin, Two Birds have now moved into the vodka category with this combination of barley and sugar beet spirit.  More info
$46.20
A smashing vodka from Californ-I-A, this was created by Jorg Rupf and Lance Winters. They used pot stilled viognier wine which is blended in a column still with wheat vodka. The result is perfectly...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$44.41
A Dutch lemon vodka, Ketel One Citroen is made with natural citrus, and is remarkably fresh. Based around the superb Ketel One vodka.  More info
$38.81
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