Since it has been around for centuries, you would think that the issue of exactly what Vodka liquor is would
have been settled a long time since. However, within the European community, officials have recently been debating
that very question in order to establish legal definitions in respect of trade and what and what cannot be legally
called Vodka. Nevertheless, although bureaucrats may continue to argue the finer points, it is not difficult for
others to decide what vodka liquor is.
This distilled spirit is made from grain or sometimes, potatoes. While the origin is not completely clear, it
likely made its first appearance between Poland and South-western Russia sometime between the fourteenth and
Nowadays, the majority of vodka is made from wheat or rye and is a far cry from the stomach destroying liquid
associated with the Soviet liquor of the past. Its clear color is a reflection of the purity of premium vodka.
Of course, it is possible to make vodka from practically any agricultural product and that is part of what the
political bickering is all about. Grapes, soy and corn have all been used, as are sugar beets, which are a popular
choice in the UK, where distillers want to carve out a chunk of the lucrative and growing vodka market.
Undoubtedly, it is easier to grow sugar beets in that cool climate than wheat.
Nevertheless and whatever the source, vodka is typically forty percent alcohol by volume (ABV), or eighty
percent proof. That is strong stuff, but not gut rot by any means. Higher concentrations containing fifty percent
or one hundred proof are available as specialty items. If well made, they can be potent but not ulcer generating,
and they still have that fine, pure taste.
Some watered down versions that have only twenty percent, are also offered for sale, but the less said about
them the better. If you want to dilute your vodka, you can do it with fruit juice or good vermouth, but at least
give the liquor a chance, for goodness sakes.
An interesting revelation that you may not be aware of, and that is the fact that if distilled vodka was not
already diluted by water to make it eighty to one hundred proof, it would be nearly pure ethanol. In Europe, the EU
sets a lower limit of 37.5% ABV for a bottle to qualify, anyway.
Vodka sometimes contains a low percentage of something called fusel oils. They help add a tiny hint of spice to
whiskey that every good bottle contains, but the less the better in vodka. They should not be confused with fuel
oil, of course, which is the very opposite of what a fine vodka is all about. They are simply a higher order of
alcohol, and that phrase more appropriately describes this heavenly liquor.
Because the taste of good vodka is so pure, it does in fact make for a great base for numerous mixed drinks.
Bloody Marys, Vodka Martinis and several other cocktails are names known the world over. Purists in Eastern Europe
may sneer, but every vodka lover is an individual and they do not have to pay them any attention. Leave the
arguments to the bureaucrats.