Vodka

One of the world’s most popular spirits, Vodka is enjoyed around the globe thanks, in no small part, to its versatility in myriad mixed drinks. Due to its typically neutral flavour and colourless appearance, Vodka is often drunk in the West as a means of adding spirit to cocktails and tall drinks. However, thanks to the attention-to-detail to be found in craft Vodkas, as well as the increased interest in premium spirits, a variety of flavoursome sipping Vodkas can now be found easily, offering connoisseurs a great choice from many different countries, made in many different styles.

The origins of vodka are hotly debated, though most tend to agree that it was first made in Poland or Russia. The earliest record of the term was found in a set of Polish court documents dating back to 1405, listing it alongside cosmetics and medicines. Similarly, in Russia there are ancient records of early pharmaceutical lists referring to “vodka of bread wine”.

The term “vodka” actually comes from the Slavic word for water. In this regard vodka has markedly similar roots to a variety of other spirits from around the world. The Gaelic term “uisge beatha” (from which we get “whisky), the Latin “aqua vitae” (from which we get the Scandinavian akvavit), and French eau-de-vie all translate as “water of life”. It would appear, then, that the ancient fascination with the elixir of life resulted in the creation of a number of our favourite tipples today.

Before the 1950s, vodka was only really popular in Europe, and Eastern Europe particularly. A surge in popularity meant that by 1975, sales of vodka in America had far surpassed those of the country’s traditional spirit, bourbon.

Plain Vodka

Today, vodka companies tend to flaunt their products as being the purest, thanks to numerous distillations and filtrations (examples include Smirnoff and Russian Standard). However, it is worth considering the more flavoursome and complex vodkas and the best place to start is by looking at the base ingredient.

Almost anything can be used to distil vodka, from cereal grains such as rye, wheat and barley, to potatoes, grapes and even molasses. However, the ingredient used tends to vary by country.

For example, in Poland, vodkas are often made from rye or potatoes. Potato vodkas are creamy, buttery and grainy. Polish examples include Chopin and Luksusowa, and there is even an English brand named Chase which distils excellent potato vodka in Herefordshire. Rye vodkas such as Wyborowa and Belvedere offer up flavours of bread-like sweetness and spice.

In Russia and Scandinavia, cereal grains such as barley and wheat are often used in vodka production. Sweden’s Absolut vodka is a tasty wheat vodka which offers up notes of spice and aniseed. In Finland, the barley vodka Finlandia is a nutty, spicy spirit which works beautifully in cocktails.

For a more unusual choice of base ingredient, Ciroc - made in France - is distilled form grapes and is fruity and rounded in flavour.

Flavoured Vodka

Thanks to the use of high quality flavouring ingredients, there is also a great number of flavoured vodkas made with anything from fruits to spices. These can be used to make many delicious mixed drinks. We recommend trying the fruity, delicious Davna Cherry Vodka for a supreme example, as well as flavoured vodka from the English Vodka Company. For something a little more intense, Absolut Peppar is a great pepper-flavoured vodka. Or, if you’re feeling particularly brave, you could even have a taste of an astonishingly hot chilli vodka from The ‘Hot Enough’ Vodka Company.

Vodka

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This is the big brother of the infamous 100,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka from The 'Hot Enough' Vodka Company. 250,000 Scovilles is made by macerating Naga Jolokia chillies in pure vodka before...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
£32.95
An absolutely insane chilli vodka from The 'Hot Enough' Vodka Company, 100,000 Scovilles is made by macerating Naga Jolokia chillies in pure vodka before filtering and bottling. Really not for the...  More info
£32.95
Reyka Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A superb Icelandic vodka, Reyka is distilled from wheat and barley and can proudly boast to be the world's first ever 'green' vodka, thanks to being distilled using geothermal heat…  More info
£30.38
Inspired by his homeland, Russia, Dr Kauffman set about distilling his vodka 14 times and putting it through 2 filtrations. This Soft variant of Kauffman Vodka is titled as such because of the softer...  More info
£70.79
Crystal Head Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Crystal Head Vodka is a superb spirit produced by the comedy legend Dan Aykroyd! It's made with Newfoundland water, and it's filtered through 500 million year old crystals. It also comes in a superb...  More info
£42.07
The world's first pure milk vodka, made entirely from the fresh whole milk and produced on Jason Barber's dairy farm in West Dorset. Triple filtered and hand bottled.  More info
£27.72
This beautiful bottling of Kauffman Vintage Vodka is titled Hard as it has more potent, lively characteristics than the Soft style. Kauffman distill their vodka 14 times and filter it twice through...  More info
£70.79
Besmoked Vodka
(70cl, 40.20%)
Produced by Professor Cornelius Ampleforth, Besmoked Vodka is a superb spirit made by infusing top-quality vodka with smoke from maple, apple, cherry, pecan and hickory wood!  More info
£32.95
Valt is a Scottish vodka distilled five times in copper pot stills from malted barley. To a whisky lover, it's essentially new make spirit, distilled a few extra times!  More info
£25.73
Award winning Russian vodka presented in a hand-blown bottle, complete with sculpted dragon, and 23 carat gold leaves.  More info
£53.45
DQ Vodka
(100cl, 40%)
A wonderfully packaged Swedish vodka distilled from Winter Wheat, DQ comes in an impressive blue bottle. The producers say this is the vodka for those who 'live life undiluted'.  More info
£60.95
A delicious Polish vodka with a stem of Bison Grass in the bottle, Zubrowka is very good indeed - in fact, it was awarded a Grand Gold Medal from the Monde Selection in Brussels!  More info
£18.85
This is a 1.75 litre bottle of delicious Crystal Head Vodka made by the comedian Dan Aykroyd. It's filtered through Herkimer diamonds and it's mixed with pure water from Newfoundland.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.0/5)
£94.01
Balkan 176° Vodka
(70cl, 88%)
Bottled at a massive 88%abv, Balkan 176 is a triple-distilled spirit from Serbia which comes with 13 different health warnings on the bottle (including one written in Braille).  More info
£41.05
Absolut Wild Tea
(70cl, 40%)
A tasty Swedish vodka, Absolut Wild Tea is flavoured with Elderflowers from Sweden and Oolong Tea from China. Very interesting.  More info
£40.34
A Russian vodka from top producer Stolichnaya in salted caramel flavour.  More info
£25.90
Konik's Tail Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Konik's Tail is a tasty small-batch vodka made in Poland from spelt grain, rye and winter wheat, and named for the primitive Polish horse "Konik" - a breed which lives in the ancient forests. Just...  More info
£28.96
Firestarter Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
This super-premium Moldovan wheat vodka has been platinum filtered five times for an excellent smoothness and purity. Firestarter Vodka comes in an incredibly unique bottles shaped like a fire...  More info
£24.20
Deliciously sweet, V Gallery Marshmallow Vodka fuses the purity of their 5 times distilled vodka with sugary marshmallow notes for a delightful treat.  More info
£19.29
Bainbridge Distillers were founded in Washington State, in north west USA. They pride themselves about using organic ingredients for their spirits, and their vodka is no different, as it uses organic...  More info
£63.23
A black vodka, coloured naturally with the Asian herb catechu, Blavod was created with one question in mind: "you can have coffee white or black, why should the same not apply to vodka?" Why indeed.  More info
£19.13
Grey Goose Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
A beautiful French vodka, Grey Goose is sublimely creamy and it's wonderful when served straight from the freezer…  More info
£33.75
From fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, this is a new, limited edition bottling of his designer vodka. The Night Edition is made to represent the mystique, charm and joy of the night, by being decked...  More info
£49.46
Wyborowa Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Wyborowa is a tasty Polish vodka, distilled twice from Polish rye in pot stills. Its name is Polish for "Selected", a reference to the providence and selection of the ingredients…  More info
£17.07
Heavy Water Vodka
(70cl, 40%)
Heavy Water is a superb Swedish vodka, distilled from wheat and well water. It comes bottled in French glass and is very refined indeed.  More info
£28.35
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