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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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Professor Cornelius Ampleforth
Ardbeg Whisky Distillery
Mature Your Own Kit
FEW Spirits
Compass Box Distillery
Glenmorangie Whisky Distillery
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Smirnoff Red (Antique)
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Vestal Rye Vodka 2009
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Vlahov Vodka - 1960s
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Trojka Vodka - 1970s
(75cl, 40%)
An antique bottle of seldom heard-of Trojka vodka.  More info
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A very good quality rye vodka from Poland, flavoured with blackcurrant juice.  More info
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Vodka Czystia
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Vodka Czystia is a Polish vodka from Polmos Siedlce.  More info
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This is amber flavoured vodka from Poland is flavoured with herbs and dried fruits for a botanical aroma and flavour.  More info
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Wyborowa Orange Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A delicious orange-flavoured Polish vodka from Wyborowa, made with orange essences, it has a medium level of sweetness, with a lot of zesty flavour.  More info
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Wyborowa Pear Vodka
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A Polish vodka with a fresh, delectable Pear flavour. Wyborowa Pear is made using Klapsa pears, which are very sweet and juicy.  More info
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A vintage bottle of Wybrowa State Spirit Vodka, produced by the State Spirit Monopoly in Poland during the 1950s.  More info
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A sealed bottle of Zamoyski vodka, in near perfect condition, from the early 1980s.  More info
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Traditional Polish vodka which was originally created at the Bialystok Distillery which was established in Poland in 1928. It is flavoured with various spices and has a wonderful bittersweet flavour.  More info
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Zubrówka is famous for putting a single blade of bison grass (harvested in the only primeval forest left in Poland), this bottle is from the 1980's and is highly collectable.  More info
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Bloody Mary anyone? Okay, so when compared to the micro-distilled vodka made using freshly grated horseradish we had recently at 69 Colebrook Row, this ain't quite as good. Mind you, that's a bit like...  More info
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Sputnik Vodka
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A very clean tasting Russian vodka, Sputnik is made from top quality winter wheat, it is triple distilled and is great in a Vodka Martini.  More info
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Wyborowa Apple Vodka
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A very unusual vodka, this is five times distilled, three time filtered and flavoured with Périgord truffles. It is very distinctive, and very soft. Beautiful.  More info
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Krakus Premium
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About as fresh and authentic tasting a cucumber flavour as we've ever experienced. Absolutely incredible. We can't recommend this stuff enough. They make it by re-distilling Blackwood's lovely...  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.