Colorless, odorless, flavorless? Not anymore. The world of vodka has entered a new epoch. Vodka traditionalists still insist that only vodka made from grains or potatoes is worthy of the name, but distillers around the world take greater liberties, employing corn and various other fermentable products including fruit such as grapes and apples. It is the raw materials, the water and the art of the distillation that give vodka its unique character. Here's a list of 9 outstanding examples.
WHEAT - Goral Vodka Master
Wheat likes its overall climate a bit cooler and is harvested in late fall and early winter. It is pretty neutral in flavour and tends to pick up the flavours of the other ingredients used in whatever it's made into. Vodka made from wheat tends to be more acidic and lighter when compared to those made from other sources.
Goral Vodka Master was born in 2010 in the heart of Tatra Mountains, a northern-east part of Slovakia. It uses locally sourced ingredients (winter wheat & water from Lubovnianska Valley). A 7-column distillation process achieves the clean, smooth and crisp taste.
RYE - Adnams Rye Hill Vodka
Rye has a naturally sour and bitter taste. It survives cool climates. When used in vodka for a blend of grains, rye adds a spiciness and robustness. When there's enough rye to be called a rye vodka it's all about the spice and rich cereal taste.
Adnams Rye Hill Vodka is made using rye grown at the farm in Reydon, just a few miles away from Adnams brewery and distillery in Southwold, Suffolk. Rye Hill Vodka is a smooth and rich spirit with a hint of pepper. The rye creates a drier vodka, which is spicier than other vodkas made from barley or wheat). It has subtle aromas of rye bread and spice on the nose, with a long, dry and spicy finish.
BARLEY - Bimber English Vodka
Barley has a stronger taste than wheat, but it is not as bitter and strong as rye. It tends to make a more acidic, lighter bodied vodka. Barley prefers the warmer climate; harvested in late spring or early summer. About 25% of barley used for alcohol is malted. It's actually the grain that is malted the most because it has an abundance of the enzymes needed for saccharification. The barley grains chosen to be used for beer or spirits are more often the ones low in protein (two-row barley – better in creating fermentable sugar)
Bimber English Barley Vodka is a triple-distilled vodka produced at the London-based distillery. Distilled in copper column stills, in small batches from the finest English barley sourced from Britain’s oldest working malting; the result is a wonderfully rounded and buttery spirit that is nuanced with nutty, fruity notes and a soft mouth feel.
CORN - Prairie Organic Vodka
Corn is planted in the spring and it needs a warm climate. In comparison to other grains, corn contains more starch, which means we produce more ethyl-alcohol from corn than from the same amount of other grains. Quality corn vodka is softer and milder when compared to those from other sources and gives sweetness to vodka. 40% of the world’s corn is produced in the United States.
MIXED GRAIN - U'luvka Vodka
Mixed grain gives a more complex yet smooth finish to the spirit. It is characterised by clean and dry taste with medium acidity.
U'luvka is a super-premium Polish vodka distilled from rye, wheat, barley, with touch of oats. All grains are harvested in August in Wielkopolska, Western Poland and distilled in Akwawit Polmos. U’luvka is an example of nicely harmonised and well balanced vodka with a smooth, rich palate, creamy texture and fresh cereal flavour. U’luvka is distilled three times trough 4 column stills and filtered twice trough 2 different filters. No carbon filters in order to keep the character of the raw material.
RICE - Bedlam Vodka
Neutral rice spirit has a distinct flavour and aroma characteristics as well as soft and slightly sweet taste of vanilla cream, hints of citrus and undertones of sweet grass. It has a velvety texture that ultimately gives a delicious and smooth overall experience.
Bedlam Vodka is produced by Graybeard Distillery in North Carolina. Distilled from long-grain white rice sourced from Louisiana and Arkansas. Using two specially sourced stills (standard commercial 2.000 liter and custom-built 5.000 liter developed by iStill in Woerden, Netherlands). Thanks to modern computer controlled system the flavour profile is maintained in each batch, giving Bedlam characteristic floral, mildly sweet taste.
POTATO - Vestal Kaszebe 2011
Potatoes create a full bodied, creamier vodka. Most distilleries peel the potatoes entirely, others partially, and some not at all before it's made into the mash. It matters what kind or of potatoes are used. Different varieties, different taste of final potato spirit.
Vestal Kaszebe 2011 is made using Vineta potatoes grown in the sandy soils of Kaszebe, Northern Poland. The spuds are picked when they're small and packed with character, and this care and attention really comes through in Vestal's flavoursome spirits. Produced in Podlaska Wytwornia Wodek, Siedlce. Using a single distillation to keep the spirit profile as authentic as possible. Vestal Kaszebe 2011 displays a balanced flavour profile of fruit and nut notes, with hints of licorice and grassiness on the palate.
GRAPE - Chilgrove Vodka
Neutral grape alcohol is sought after for its ability to extract, carry scents, and its general taste and versatility
It retains its fruity character.
Chilgrove Vodka is named after the English village of Chilgrove in West Sussex (launched in 2014), distilled from grapes. Chilgrove Vodka is clean and soft on the nose with just a hint of fruit. On the palate it is smooth and soft with very slight earthy notes, almost velvety mouth-feel with a subtle suggestion of fruit notes coming through.
APPLE - Indigenous Vodka
Neutral apple spirit is very similar to a neutral grape spirit. It has a fruity nose, velvety texture and dry and rich apple flavour.
Indigenous Vodka is produced from 100% Hudson Valley apples grown at Tantillo’s Farm and other local orchards, just miles from the distillery. After the apples are pressed and the cider is fermented, each batch is distilled two times in order to retain the essence of the apples that were its source.