What is Vodka and how is it made?

What is Vodka and how is it made?

Vodka is a Spirit drink that is obtained through fermented vegetables or grains distillation. The origin of the word Vodka comes from the Slavic word Voda, which in some sense means watery.

Like the majority of spirits drinks, its origin is medical, it was used to relief pain. Vodka is not Russian, its origin seems to be Polish, although it’s almost a national symbol of the Russian people. It’s historically produced in the north of Europe where potatoes and wheat are produced in large quantities.

vodka-ingredients

Once distilled, it can have a very high alcoholic concentration, which is why it’s necessary to add water to make it digestible. The high alcoholic concentration eliminates all flavor and aroma. making Vodka a neutral spirit drink.

Vodka has been one of the favorites drinks in Eastern and Northern Europe for centuries. But it wasn’t until 1930 that started to gain popularity in Eastern Europe and North America. It was in this year that the Savoy Cocktail Book published a series of vodka-based cocktails recipes.

Like every alcoholic beverage, it has primary components: vegetables or grains, water, malted flour, yeast, and flavorings.

You can make vodka from such incredible ingredients as apples, corn, maple syrup, honey, and Quinoa. But the most common are potatoes, wheat, and rye.

Find out why they’re called spirit drinks and what are the most popular in our article what are the best spirit drinks and why are they called that?

What are the ingredients of vodka?

vodka-absolut

Vegetables and grains

Because it’s neutral, with lack of taste and odor, it can be distilled from almost any fermentable ingredient. It’s known that it was originally made from potatoes

But in some countries of Northern Europe, it’s also made of potatoes and corn. Some of the best vodkas made in the united states come from the distillation of cereals like wheat.

Water

As I’d already mentioned, water is added after the distillation process to lower the alcoholic content. It must be pure and demineralized, and depending on the country there’s a minimum and maximum alcohol value that vodka can have.

Malted Flour

Vegetables and grains contain more starch than sugar, an active ingredient has to be added to the mixture to make the conversion of starch into sugar easier.

In particular, the sugars obtained from the malt, maltose, and dextrin, respond more effectively to the enzyme found in malt.

Malted grains are washed in water and sprouted, to later be added to the mix.

Yeast

Yeast contains enzymes that feed on starch or sugar, extracting oxygen and producing alcohol.

The yeast commonly used in the elaboration of Vodka is Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Flavorings

It’s not necessary to add any additional flavor to Vodka, but at the beginning of the 20th-century flavored vodka became very popular.

For flavoring, it can be added herbs, grass, spice, fruit essences, basically anything, after the distillation.

If you want to drink a good Vodka. Visit our article about  the best vodkas online 2021

Vodka Elaboration

Mixture preparation

The first thing to do is grind the vegetables or grains that are going to be used; a sort of washing machine that rotates while making the mixture, it’s commercially used. After having the mix ready, the malted flour is added to promote the conversion of starch to sugar.

vodka-neat

Sterilization and inoculation

It’s a process done mainly industrially, to prevent the growth of bacteria that may damage the mixture. The substance is heated to the boiling point; then lactic acid bacteria is injected to increase the acidic level needed for fermentation.

Fermentation

The mixture is poured in stainless steel containers. Yeast is added and the tanks are sealed for 2 to 4 days, this gives enough time to yeast enzymes to convert sugar into alcohol.

Distillation

To separate the alcohol from the mixture, it’s heated up to approximately 80°.

As alcohol’s boiling point is lower than water’s, the resulting vapor at that temperature is alcohol vapor which is carried through pipes to other containers where, by condensation, becomes liquid again.

vodka-still

To learn more about fermentation, here you can see our article how to distill alcohol at home, where we explain in more detail how is the alcohol distillation process.

Filtration

Filtration is a key element of vodka. Filtering a spirit drink is done through various distillations to remove unwanted impurities.

It’s also possible to filter the vodka by passing it through activated charcoal. This helps to eliminate impurities, unwanted odors and ensures longer conservation in the bottle.

Filtration does not ensure the vodka’s quality, in some labels triple filtered, distilled five times, can be read. It all depends on the base ingredient, if it has a strong flavor like rye, it’s advisable to distill it several times to obtain a subtler flavor.

Learn more about the distillation of spirits drinks in this article.

Adding Water

The concentrated alcohol vapor obtained by distillation can be between 95 and 100% of alcoholic concentration. To make the vodka digestible and safe, it’s necessary to add water to lower it down to a minimum of 40° alcoholic grade.

vodka-water

Bottling

Like every distilled quality beverage, it must be bottled in glass, due to it not being reactive and preserves the original flavor that it contains. It can be directly bottled after distillation because it doesn’t age.

Depending on the country where it’s produced and the brand, it can have different alcoholic grades.

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