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Vodka can be produced anywhere in the world and can be distilled from any starch- or sugar-rich plant.

The more traditional raw materials used to make vodka are grains like barley, corn, rye and wheat, but potatoes, rice, grapes and all manner of materials, including cactus, can also be used.

vodka-cactus-how-is-it made
Cadushy distillery, Bonaire, makes the world’s first cactus vodka

Vodka alcohol percentage

During production, vodka is initially distilled to a high strength of at least 95% abv. This is achieved using a column still.

Distilling to such a high strength ensures that little of the character of the base material (barley, potatoes etc.) remains.

Vodka is also often filtered through charcoal to remove any remaining undesirable flavor and impurities. The strength is then reduced by adding water to around 40% abv.

Vodka styles

Most vodkas are designed to taste as neutral as possible. The neutral taste is what makes vodka so versatile and popular. It is ideal for making vodka cocktails and mixed drinks.

However, some vodkas are more characterful, such as some Polish vodkas. The flavors are still delicate compared with that of brandy or whiskey, but hints of the base material are detectable on the nose and palate.

Top vodkas: What they are made from?

Absolut vodka is made in Sweden from ‘hardy wheat’.

Belvedere vodka is made in Poland from rye.

Smirnoff vodka is made in Washington from non-GMO corn.

Grey Goose vodka is made in France from ‘soft winter wheat’.

Ketel One vodka is made in The Netherlands from wheat.

Stoli vodka is made in Latvia from rye.

Tito’s vodka is made in Texas from corn.

Vodka made with potatoes

If you are curious to try potato vodka there are many excellent brands to choose from, including:

Woody Creek made in Colorado.

Blue Ice made in Idaho.

Chase made in England.

Luksosowa made in Poland.

Flavored vodkas

Flavored vodkas have become more popular in recent years. Stoli was the first brand of vodka to introduce flavored vodkas in 1962 (pepper and honey & herb). Flavors can be added to vodka in different ways:

Essences: Artificial flavors are added to the vodka

Maceration: The flavoring ingredients (fruit, herbs, spices, vanilla) are soaked in the vodka.

Redistillation: Vodka is redistilled with the flavoring ingredients.