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Vodka is a distilled beverage mainly composed of water and ethanol. It may sometimes contain minute quantities of flavorings and impurities. Vodka is traditionally made via the distillation of the mashes of fermented potatoes or grains. However, some brands use other material like sugar or fruits. Traditional vodka normally has a 40 percent alcoholic content by volume. The term “moonshine” is normally used to refer to homemade vodka. In the Eastern European vodka belt and in parts of the Baltic Sea, vodka is taken dry. Apart from being drunk neat, it can also be incorporated into mixed drinks and cocktails such as the Moscow mule, Black Russian, White Russian, Bloody Mary, Vodka martini and Vodka tonic. The name “Vodka” was obtained from the Slavic word “Voda”, which means water.

History of Vodka
The history of vodka has been a contentious issue for a long time. This is as a result of the little historical literature available on the subject concerning the origin of the beverage. The drink has its roots in Eastern Europe. Its first production took place in the 8th century in Poland or in the 9th century in Russia. The first documented distillery was in the year 1174 in the Vyatka Chronicle. Vodka was originally used for medical purposes. Back then, it contained approximately 14 percent of alcohol. This was due to the crude manufacturing processes used then. The vodka had to be distilled up to three times before it attained an acceptable purity.

Vodka production
Any plant matter rich in sugar or starch can be used to distill vodka. Presently, vodka is produced from grains like corn, sorghum, rye and wheat. Among these, wheat and rye vodkas are considered to be the most superior. Vodka may also be made from soybeans, molasses, rice, potatoes, grapes and sugar beet. In some countries like the United States, Vodka is made from ethanol produced in large amounts by agricultural industrial plants. Bottlers buy the ethanol in bulk, it is then filtered, diluted and distributed under different brand names.

Vodka is first extensively filtered before any further processing commences, including the addition of flavoring agents. At times, filtration can be done in the stills as distillation progresses or even afterwards using activated charcoal and other material to absorb minute amounts of compounds which give the vodka an undesirable flavor. In contrast, traditional vodka distillers normally use very precise distillation processes, this is done to negate any additional need for filtering. By doing this, they preserve the unique flavors and features of their products.

In as much as most vodkas are not flavored, flavoring is sometimes done for medicinal purposes or to improve the general taste of vodka. Common flavors used include; ginger, vanilla, red pepper, cinnamon and chocolate. Honey and pepper flavored vodka is very popular in Russia.

Popular vodka brands to try

Luksusowa
This historic vodka is made in one of the oldest distilleries in Poland. It is made using potatoes from the Baltic coast and has a creamy and sweet tinge.

Beluga
This is the most notable representation of the love for heavier vodka styles by Russians. It is very popular in Russia with its floral scent, sweet taste and its crisp fennel and pepper finish.

Crystal Head
This vodka is sold in a skull shaped bottle and is made by Dan Aykoryd. It may not be the best tasting vodka around, however, its selling point is its unique skull shaped bottle.

Belvedere Unfiltered
This uses rye from one estate. Its notable nutty taste is due to the fact that this vodka is not filtered, it also has a peppery taste to it.

Zubrowska Bison Grass
This vodka promises a delicate mix of flavors and aromas with its rye base, the taste is somewhat playfully herbal. It also blends excellently with cinnamon and apple juice.

Absolut
This Vodka is made using hard winter wheat grown in Southern Sweden’s rich soils. Absolut is characterized by its crisp taste, in an arena where other vodka brands had a harsh taste. Its taste consists of a buttery hue with an unmistakeable grain tinge with a pleasant after taste. This gentle taste is lacking in other vodka brands. Absolut prides itself in being a zealously made vodka in a field where other vodka manufacturers love taking shortcuts.

Chase English Potato Vodka
The makers of this vodka are so committed to the production process that they go to the extent of growing their own process. The entire process is rigorously controlled, from fermentation to distillation. This results into a creamy vodka with a rustic character.

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