Vodka is a clear spirit distilled from a variety of starter substances. The most common are grains or potatoes, however recent years have seen vodka distilled from fruits, sugar, and even cow’s milk. Whether it’s mass-market or small-batch, vodka is one of the most universal spirits on earth and, for as many places as it’s available, it’s relished in just as many ways.
Westerners have enjoyed vodka as the base of a variety of cocktails, from Martinis to Screwdrivers to the ultimate hair of the dog, the Bloody Mary. However, many cultures, principally those across the former Soviet bloc, wouldn’t dream of treating vodka as a mixer, instead savouring their vodka neat, either slightly chilled or ice cold. Because it’s so quickly masked by a mixer, the actual flavour of vodka is rarely given its due credit.
Take the time to sip, and you’ll notice vodka indeed has a taste that usually reflects the base from which it’s made. For instance, vodkas distilled from grains like winter wheat tend to be crisp and refreshing, while those made from potatoes have an almost rich, creamy aspect to them.