Is All Vodka Created Equal?
Before we get into it, technically the answer is a resounding YES. And the reason for this is that there is US Federal Law in place that require vodka to be colorless, tasteless and odorless.
That being said, some vodkas have more of a bite than others. The underlying taste is just ethyl alcohol and water. Some distillers cover this taste and harshness better than others.
If you’re an avid vodka drinker, it is likely that you have a favorite brand of vodka or a preference on whether its made from wheat or potato.
Where Is Vodka From?
Most all of us have heard that vodka is originally from Russia, and that’s true. It was Eastern Europe, and primarily Russia that put vodka on the map. Due to easy abundance of wheat and potato, this is what distillers used.
How Is Vodka Made?
Given the complex composition of wheat and potatoes, enzymes (amylase) have to be added to these starch bases during distillation in order to create fermentable sugars.
This process of adding enzymes creates methyl alcohol and a sharp, offensive taste you wouldn’t want to drink with a twist or an olive.
For this reason, vodka is distilled several more times to clean up the flavor and create the delicious and neutral tasting alcohol.
Vodka is often filtered through charcoal to purify the taste and smooth mouth feel. If you’ve ever had a Brita pitcher, think of what happens to how your water tastes before and after filtering. Now, don’t go trying to put cheap vodka through your Brita pitcher at home, you’ll ruin the filter and those filters are more expensive than just spending the extra couple bucks on the more premium vodka.
Wheat, Potato and Corn Oh My!
As I mentioned earlier, vodka can be made from any starch once distilled. Wheat is the most common base — think Grey Goose, Absolute and Ketel One.
The next most common vodka base is potato. Often times, gluten-free people seek out potato vodka. Jury is still out if distilled wheat can actually carry gluten, but that’s another convo for another day. Some examples of potato vodka are Chopin, Karlsson’s and Boyd & Blair. In this day and age, most reputable places serving liquor have at least one potato vodka.
Lastly, we have corn vodka. Most people don’t think of corn as a base for any liquor other than bourbon, but Tito’s vodka changed the game when they started distilling corn in Austin, Texas. This is also a popular choice for gluten-free people.
Everyone has a preference, so take some time to find out what you like the most!
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