There is still a common misconception that vodka is odourless, tasteless, non-distinctive clear spirit but there is much more to it.
Vodka can be classified in different ways and based on different factors which influence flavour and texture(mouthfeel) of the final product.
1.Country of origin
From the historical point of view, the main Vodka producing countries are Russia and Poland and that’s also where vodka originated although there is no definite statement which one is the homeland of this drink.
In the top list should be included also Scandinavian Countries Sweden and Finland with their long tradition of vodka production and Great Britain, USA, France, Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand.
Countries share many similarities between each other with a method of production or base/ingredient.
2.Different styles of Vodka production(distillation, filtration)
Earlier production of vodka wasn’t the same as we know today. Distillation was made in pot stills rather than today in the majority of cases in column stills which helps to achieve along with the most popular charcoal filtration perfectly clear nearly neutral spirit.
So after vodka is distilled to at least 95% ABV then it’s filtered to remove any impurities. Then it’s diluted with water to the bottling strength.
The majority of vodka brands are trying to achieve absolute smoothness(texture) through the multiple filtrations these are usually Western countries.
And then there are a few brands which keep the vodka in the more natural way so the flavour can be noticeable these are usually Eastern Countries Poland and Russia.
Although many people believe that perfectly clear filtrated vodka is ideal for mixing in cocktails. I found that you can appreciate vodka in the more natural way so it can shine through the cocktail and highlight its tasting notes and texture.
3.What is Vodka made from(base/ingredient)?
Vodka is traditionally made from grain, rye, wheat, corn, barley, potato but now we can see a range of different exotic bases including grapes, soy beans or whey. Most of the ingredients need to be firstly processed in some way to form sugars. Then yeast is added so the whole fermentation process can begin to form alcohol.
Tasting notes of commonly used ingredients with examples of vodka brands
Potato vodka has a sweet, creamy and buttery quality
Chopin(Poland), Luksusowa(Poland), Chase(UK)
Rye vodka has a bite with spicy, peppery tasting notes
Belvedere(Poland), Wyborova(Poland), Bols(Netherlands)
Wheat vodka gives more subtle delicacy, soft on the palate, anise flavour
Stoli(Russia), Ketel One(Holland)Pot stills, Grey Goose(France), Absolut(Sweden), Finlandia(Finland)wheat+barley
Grapes vodka gives smooth, clean and crisp taste
It all depends on particular brand and technique of production.
First vodkas were flavoured as far back as the 14th and 15th centuries and today many popular brands and distillers make various flavours which raise the question is it really worth it to make your own infused vodka?