Vodka might not carry as a lot status as glowing wines from Champagne; nevertheless, that doesn’t imply it ought to merely be relegated to mixing with a punch for the aim of intoxication. In truth, vodka is a spirit that’s extremely various, and comes with a wealthy and contentious historical past.
Whereas it’s usually utilized in cocktails and blended drinks, maybe one of the best ways to take pleasure in this spirit is by itself. Folks usually discuss with vodka as having no style, however with a correct vodka and taking the time to savour the expertise, you’re capable of finding delicate, nuanced flavours that may really be fairly pleasing.
Vodka’s Prolonged Historical past
Apparently, vodka is without doubt one of the oldest spirits on the planet. It was initially constituted of grapes, after which ultimately it was constituted of grains.
Because it gained recognition, it changed honey mead as the popular beverage in Russia, Poland, and Sweden. In truth, all three of these international locations have staked their declare on who made vodka first, and it may be a reasonably contentious concern to deliver up.
Squabbling apart, vodka is what is called a rectified spirit, in that it’s colourless and “tasteless”. Gin can also be a rectified spirit; nevertheless, the most important distinction between vodka and gin is that gin makes use of junipers and different botanicals within the distilling course of, whereas vodka maintains a pure and clarified profile.
The phrase vodka comes from Slavic-language phrase voda, which suggests water. Taken actually, vodka means “little water”, though anybody who has sipped on vodka earlier than can attest that the 2 drinks have very totally different tastes.
Vodka obtained its begin as a tincture for therapies. House cures nonetheless use this spirit in sure purposes, and its potential makes use of for different functions blossomed from there.
Whereas it was lengthy common in Russia, Poland, and throughout Europe, vodka didn’t turn out to be common in North America till the late Forties. It was put into the Moscow Mule, which quickly primed it to be related to status.
A couple of years later, James Bond was ordering vodka martinis, and by the mid-Seventies, vodka overtook whiskey because the best-selling spirit in America, a place it nonetheless holds as we speak.
How Vodka Is Made
Vodka is an attention-grabbing spirit as a result of it may be made by distilling a wide range of issues with sugar. For instance, it may be made with potatoes, apples, milk, wooden, corn, carrots…you get the thought. More often than not, nevertheless, it’s constituted of numerous grains.
The grains are first cooked with filtered water to create a mash that’s wealthy in sugars. The mash is then fermented with yeast to create an alcoholic wash, which is then separated from the yeast in a nonetheless.
More often than not, vodka goes by means of a distilling course of at a minimal of thrice. The extra instances it will get distilled, the smoother and cleaner the style might be.
After it undergoes distillation, it’s filtered by means of charcoal, after which has purified water added to it. This water is crucial as a result of it impacts the style of the vodka.
Grain-based vodkas usually solely get water added, although they’re additionally more likely to be distilled additional. Different vodkas have added sugars and sweeteners.
As soon as that course of is full, it’s able to go. Vodka doesn’t must age, and thus, it will get the social gathering began immediately.
Kinds of Vodka
With vodka, there are two principal classes to think about. There are conventional vodkas, that are impartial, after which there are flavoured vodkas, which spotlight totally different flavours.
Conventional vodkas don’t have flavouring added after distillation. Nonetheless, regardless of this, they aren’t utterly tasteless – all of it is dependent upon the terroir and local weather of the grains used to make the vodka. Sure, similar to wine!
Different variations rely upon what number of instances it will get distilled. Some manufacturers will distill a lot of instances, like award-winning model, Purity, which undergoes this course of practically three dozen instances earlier than it’s completed.
Different premium manufacturers, corresponding to Belvedere, solely get distilled a single time by means of a trademarked processes.
What separates vodkas from one another is extra so the feel quite than the style. Some vodkas could also be clear and crisp, whereas others might have a buttery or silky texture. The enjoyable half, in fact, is in tasting them and choosing aside the subtleties.
Breaking down vodka into additional classes, you’re certain to seek out some that talk extra to your soul by means of your style buds.
Wheat vodka is simple and acquainted. For those who’ve had Gray Goose, Ketel One, or Absolut, for instance, you’ve had wheat vodka.
These are predominantly clean and targeted on readability, however once more, the sort and high quality of the wheat makes an influence on the flavour you’ll expertise.
Potato vodka has a barely stronger flavour. Apparently, vodka makers that use potatoes are very like winemakers, in that they deal with the potatoes in the identical regard as winemakers do grapes. Thus, potatoes from totally different years can create totally different tasting profiles.
In truth, particular potatoes used for making vodka have fairly a following, as there are many vodka lovers that chase these various vintages.
Whereas Russia is a rustic that’s well-known for its vodka, it’s attention-grabbing to notice that there are comparatively few potato vodkas from Russia. A number of the extra well-known potato vodkas embrace Chopin from Poland or Karlsson’s Gold from Sweden.
Corn vodka is usually essentially the most impartial. Whereas the kind of corn used impacts the vodka’s flavour, it’s of little consequence.
These are the sorts of vodka which are used most frequently in cocktails, and aren’t as pleasing to have neat. Smirnoff and Tito’s are prime examples, they usually are typically cheaper than different bottles of vodka.
Remember the fact that vodka may be constituted of absolutely anything on the market, so corn isn’t so unusual.
Flavoured vodka can tackle any style. Vodka is a clean canvas that’s straightforward to flavour, which is why you will notice them with berry or vanilla flavours.
Nonetheless, you might also have come throughout some extra unique flavours, corresponding to bacon, cupcakes, and different gastronomic delights.
These may be enjoyable, however bear in mind that whereas they go down simply, it’s additionally simply as straightforward to drink an excessive amount of and are available to remorse it within the morning.
Now, in case you’d wish to know style vodka and transcend merely mixing it with juice on the bar, there are some issues to know.
For starters, vodka doesn’t have to be chilled, however you need to hold it in your freezer for about three hours earlier than pouring for one of the best expertise.
Begin ingesting it chilly first. Then, sip it slowly because it warms up. That is the way in which to expertise vodka in its purest, most pleasant type.
Nonetheless, a phrase of warning: don’t add ice. As ice melts, it dilutes the vodka, and therefore disrupts the tasting expertise.
Earlier than you even get that far although, be sure to scent the vodka first. An excellent model of vodka won’t have an overwhelming scent of alcohol – if it does, you could discover one thing with higher high quality.
A trick is to scent the within of your elbow to clear your nostril, then sniff the vodka and see what sort of notes you may pick.
An excellent vodka will scent grainy or creamy, and a foul vodka may make you cough. Sampling it with meals may be very telling as properly.
In truth, that’s the way it’s usually loved in Russia and Poland. Fermented, smoked, and cured meals complement vodka very properly, and it’s possible you’ll be pleasantly stunned with the expertise.
For instance, probably the most frequent zakuski, or snacks that accompany vodka, is pickled herring. The oily and salty flavours from the fish pair very properly with a chilly, crisp vodka.
Different frequent meals to take pleasure in with vodka embrace caviar, smoked fish, blinis with smoked fish, smoked sausages, steak tartare, pierogi, pickled cucumber salad with dill, salty or smoked cheeses, and darkish breads like rye or pumpernickel.
For anybody that has solely tasted low-cost vodka, you might not be too eager on doing a tasting of the higher stuff. Identical to low-cost wine or low-cost tequila can bitter your palate, you may elevate your expertise by selecting a top quality vodka.
For those who commonly drink vodka in your cocktails, it’s possible you’ll discover new enjoyment of it by tasting it neat. If finished together with balanced flavours and the fitting meals, you’ll see how ingesting vodka can evolve right into a treasured connoisseur expertise wherever you go.