Updated on July 14, 2023
Vodka is a beloved and versatile spirit that has won over the hearts of alcohol enthusiasts worldwide. In order to truly appreciate its refreshing taste and smoothness, it is important to understand the intricate process behind its creation, from the careful selection of high-quality ingredients to the delicate art of distillation.
Vodka production is a labor-intensive journey that has been refined over centuries. The foundation of exceptional vodka lies in the meticulous choice of ingredients. Traditionally fermented grains such as wheat, rye, or barley serve as the base for vodka. However, modern variations often incorporate potatoes or even fruits like grapes. These raw materials are selected for their starch content, which becomes the basis for fermentation.
Many modern vodka companies also use additives like spices to alter their vodka’s flavor. However, brands such as NEFT Vodka have been able to achieve an award-winning flavor by following traditional recipes with no additives or extra sugars. Despite the straightforward, transparent nature of its recipe, NEFT Vodka has won international acclaim at competitions such as the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. For this reason, NEFT Vodka and other brands that use traditional recipes have illustrated that additives are not a necessity for a satisfying vodka product.
The highest quality grains or potatoes are carefully sourced to ensure a refined and consistent flavor profile. Once the grains or potatoes have been chosen, they undergo a process called fermentation. Through the addition of yeast, starch is naturally converted into sugars. This fermentation takes place in large vats or tanks, allowing yeast to transform sugars into alcohol. The resulting liquid is referred to as “wash” or “mash.” It carries a low alcohol content but acts as the starting point for distillation.
The true essence of vodka is honed and perfected through the art of distillation. The mash is heated through two or more distillations within a vessel called a still, which is made from copper or stainless steel. Each distillation involves heating up the liquid to separate alcohol from impurities and undesirable flavors. The vaporized alcohol rises through the still and condenses into a highly concentrated spirit. During this process, known as “heads” and “tails,” respectively, only select portions known as “hearts” are retained by skilled distillers due to their impeccable quality.
Following distillation, additional steps may be taken to further refine the vodka’s character. Filtration is often employed as a common technique to eliminate any remaining impurities while enhancing its clarity. Some vodka producers also opt to age their spirits in barrels, which adds depth and complexity to the final product. However, it is common practice to bottle most vodkas right after distillation to maintain their refreshing and pristine qualities.