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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.

Staritsky Levitsky Private Cellar Vodka

75cl, 40%
Staritsky Levitsky

Private Cellar is Staritsky Levitsky's top of the range offering for "the true vodka aficionado", crafted near the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, close to the Polish border.  More info

Staritsky Levitsky Private Cellar Vodka
$61.02

Kauffman Soft Private Collection Vintage Vodka

70cl, 40%
Kauffman

Kept in a bottle that looks like a prototype of the Gherkin, this Kauffman Soft Private Collection has been distilled 14 times before being filtered twice, once through birch coal and then again…  More info

Kauffman Soft Private Collection Vintage Vodka
$72.28

250,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka 50cl

50cl, 40%
The 'Hot Enough' Vodka Co.

They've have created another monster, summoned from the very bowels of hell, formed in a vile carboy filled with a horrid mound of Naga Jolokia chillies, steeped in grain vodka. It's packaged in a…  More info

250,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka 50cl
78
$39.73

Belenkaya Lux

70cl, 40%
Synergy

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

Belenkaya Lux
$21.64

500,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka 20cl

20cl, 40%
The 'Hot Enough' Vodka Co.

They've done it again. Those awful, awful people at The 'Hot Enough' Vodka Co. have conjured up another monster. A monster twice as terrifying and evil as before. They have summoned forth the 500,000…  More info

500,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka 20cl
2
$39.73

Smirnoff Blue - 1949-59

75cl, 50%
Smirnoff

Very, very old vodka from the world-famous Smirnoff brand. This is a bottle of their higher-ABV Blue Label vodka, which we believe to have been produced between 1949 and 1959. Rare and collectible.  More info

Smirnoff Blue - 1949-59
$260.41

Stolichnaya 1l - Late 1970s

100cl, 40%
Stolichnaya

This is a 1970s bottling of Stolichnaya, which has long been a back-bar favourite. Though this 1 litre bottle has impressively survived for over 30 years, the label has sadly suffered some damaged…  More info

Stolichnaya 1l - Late 1970s
$195.30

Wyborowa Wódka & Fruits Orange - 1970s

50cl, 45%
Polmos Poznan

1970s fruit flavoured vodka. Orange Wyborowa, specifically.  More info

Wyborowa Wódka & Fruits Orange - 1970s
$94.04

Hophead Hop Vodka

70cl, 45%
Anchor Distilling Company

From the Anchor Distilling Company out in San Francisco, California, comes a very interestingly-flavoured vodka, made with two types of hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington (both of which…  More info

Hophead Hop Vodka
$54.06

Vodka Czystia

50cl, 40%
Polmos Siedlce

Vodka Czystia is a Polish vodka from Polmos Siedlce.  More info

Vodka Czystia
$17.71

Moskovskaya Vodka - 1949-59

50cl, 40%
Moskovskaya

A very popular brand of Russian vodka, Moskovskaya can still be found today (if you go looking...). However, this particular bottling is an ancient piece, which we believe to have been produced…  More info

Moskovskaya Vodka - 1949-59
$144.67

Polugar No.4 - Honey & Allspice

50cl, 38.50%
Rodinov & Sons

Polugar is made to a traditional recipe for Russian vodka (though it is now made in Poland), using rye and wheat which is triple distilled in copper pot stills. For Polugar No.4, the distillers…  More info

Polugar No.4 - Honey & Allspice
$43.20

Polugar Barley

70cl, 38.50%
Rodinov & Sons

Barley spirit, or "legendary Russian breadwine" if you like, from Polugar. They're best known up until now for their unaged rye spirits.  More info

Polugar Barley
$69.43

Polugar Single Malt Rye Spirit

70cl, 38.50%
Rodinov & Sons

Polugar is made using techniques and recipes from over 100 years ago. Their Single Malt Rye (that's what it says on the bottle - we had to stop and think about it for a minute too) is made with…  More info

Polugar Single Malt Rye Spirit
$145.84

Kubanskaya Vodka - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Kubanskaya

Kubanskaya is a classic brand of Russian vodka which is flavoured with just a little bit of lemon. This bottle comes from the 1970s, back when the brand was produced by the Kristall distillery in…  More info

Kubanskaya Vodka - 1970s
$144.67

Kazbek Vodka - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Kazbek

This bottling of Kazbek Vodka dates from the 1970s, with the brand presumably taking its name from Mount Kazbek, in the Caucasus.  More info

Kazbek Vodka - 1970s
$115.74

Polmos Wyborowa 50cl - 1970s

50cl, 40%
Polmos Poznan

A rare 1970s bottling of Polish vodka, created long before the takeover of the distillery by Pernod Ricard. Let us know if you can taste the difference.  More info

Polmos Wyborowa 50cl - 1970s
$79.57

Polmos Zytnia Vodka - 1980s

75cl, 40%
Polmos

A 1980s vodka bottling - perfect for pretending you're James Bond. Or whatever. You know.  More info

Polmos Zytnia Vodka - 1980s
$86.80

London Vodka

70cl, 40%
London Alcohol Co

London Vodka is a superb British vodka with a modern, stylish feel to it. Very creamy, this stuff is great in cocktails, or just neat over ice.  More info

London Vodka
$28.91

Russkaya Vodka - 1980s

50cl, 40%
Russkaya Priviet

This is a bottle of the Russkaya vodka from the 1980s. Listen to electronica and drink this for a vintage experience.  More info

Russkaya Vodka - 1980s
$72.34

Boaka Russian Vodka - 1970s

50cl, 45%
Boaka

This Vodka hails from the Soviet Union, well 1970s Russia. Now that's a talking point for a vodka based cocktail.  More info

Boaka Russian Vodka - 1970s
$86.80

Starka Russian Vodka - 1970s

50cl, 43%
Starka

This is an ancient half litre bottle of Starka - an aged Russian vodka (note the colour) which was billed as being "Imported from the USSR".  More info

Starka Russian Vodka - 1970s
$86.80

Kristal Russian Vodka - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Kristal

This Russian Vodka was distilled back in the 1970s during the height of the Soviet Union. Antique spirits are great for adding a historical edge to a cocktail.  More info

Kristal Russian Vodka - 1970s
$115.74

Russkaya Priviet Vodka - 1970s

50cl, 40%
Russkaya Priviet

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

Russkaya Priviet Vodka - 1970s
$86.80

Debowa Red Oak Vodka

70cl, 40%
Dębowa

A vibrantly colourful vodka from Poland, made by the very well respected company, Debowa. Red Oak Vodka combines the pure, natural flavours of their oak vodka with forest fruit extracts for a sweet,…  More info

Debowa Red Oak Vodka
$34.07

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