In this post we continue with the theme of our last two posts about vodka: How Many Types of Vodka are There? and Vodka: The History and Origin of the Clearest Distillate. Now we bring you the third part of our serial dedicated to this pure distillate. Today we will take a closer look at the top 15 vodka brands divided by country.
Vodka from Poland
Most of the Polish vodka brands use potatoes and grain when they produce their vodkas. However, these raw materials are somewhat complicated to use in the production process. This is mainly because the fermentation makes it difficult to obtain certain chemical components.
- Belvedere Vodka: This vodka is made from distilled rye and it is quite smooth. LMVH distributes this spirit. The bottle itself bears the name and an illustration of the Polish Presidential Palace. Traditionally they produce a neutral vodka but in addition, they also have a range of vodkas with different flavours.
- Chopin: This is a neutral vodka which is distilled four times from potatoes from the Podlachian region (Poland). Each bottle of Chopin vodka is made from around seven pounds of potatoes. The production mainly takes place between the middle of September until the beginning of December. The vodka is named after the Polish composer Frederic Chopin and it has hints of vanilla and green apple flavours.
Vodka from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine
The three countries Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine are large producers of all kinds of vodka; however, the preferred ingredients are wheat and rye. They only export their highest quality vodka brands to the West, and these are all distilled from wheat and rye.
- Smirnoff: This is no doubt the best-known brand, but it may range as a less sophisticated vodka. The vodka is Russian and originated in Moscow in the middle of the 19th century. But the brand is currently manufactured in the United Kingdom. Smirnoff vodka is obtained by triple distillation and is made with grain. In 2012 it was the best-selling vodka worldwide with 25.8 million cases sold.
- Minskaya Kristall: This smooth tasting vodka comes from Belarus and is only marketed regionally. The brand is the leading brand in its home country and in 2012 they sold as many as 5.5 million cases. The vodka is made by distilling wheat and rye. The filtering is a patented process: 6 litres of water is used for each litre of alcohol. Then it is distilled, and the volume of water is only filtered once.
- Khortytsa: This vodka comes from Ukraine and is marketed worldwide. It is one of the most popular vodka brands in the country and in 2012 they sold 7.7 million cases. It is made with spring water and toasted wheat.
Vodka from the United Kingdom
It is not only Eastern European countries that have interesting vodka brands to present to the world. Countries like Germany and the United Kingdom also have their own noteworthy brands of vodka…
- Blavod: This brand is also known as Black Vodka. The British marketing expert, Mark Dorman, created it in 1996. The idea for the drink came to him in a San Francisco bar. The waiter served Dorman a vodka with tonic while at the same time offering coffee to other customers. The vodka is made with grain and the dark colour is obtained by using an extract of the Acacia Catechu plant. Although the colour is very visible it has no effect on the flavour.
- O2: This is an extremely popular vodka which is basically a mix of champagne and vodka. This creates a very foamy drink, which goes down easily. Philip Maitland created the vodka, it is made from English wheat and water, and it goes through a triple distillation. For a while, it was the only sparkling vodka on the market, but now similar vodkas are also produced in both Lithuania and Sweden.
- Diva: As the name suggests this is a luxurious vodka. It is made in Scotland and it features a mild flavour. The filtering process used in the production is called Diamond Vodka and it is divided into three phases: First, it is filtered with ice, then with charcoal from the Nordic birch, and finally it is filtered with particles of gems, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. Before hitting the shelves, it is poured into bottles embellished with precious stones. The price of this vodka will depend on the cost of the specific stones on the bottle.
- Three Olives: Here we have a vodka which is produced in England and made from grain which is distilled and filtered four times. This product is vegan and gluten-free. The name was inspired by the typical three olives which are crucial for a decent Vodka-Martini. The brand offers a range of different flavours.
Vodka from France
In both France, Italy, and in the Balkan region the local vodkas are produced from fermented grapes and fruit.
- Ciroc Vodka: This is a French vodka which is made using the ”Snap Frost” method with the juice of fermented grapes. The grapes are from the French regions of Gailliac and Cognac.
- Chambord: The vodka brand Chambord is immensely popular in France. The name is inspired by a famous castle in the Loire Valley. It is made with blackberries, hibiscus flowers, notes of vanilla, and white chocolate.
Vodka in the Rest of Europe
- Ketel One: Next on our list is a Dutch vodka whose flavour is characterised by its freshness and exciting citrus notes. It is distilled from wheat in copper pot stills. The liquid is filtered with activated carbon and rests in tiled tanks until it is ready.
- Absolut Vodka: This vodka has its origin in Sweden, and it is among one of the best-known vodka brands in the world. It is made from distilling wheat, it is full-bodied and complex, yet at the same time smooth and ripe. In 2012 it sold around 11.4 million cases and the bottle alone is desired among collectors. The brand releases special editions of its bottles and they offer a vast number of flavours.
Vodka in the Rest of the world
Other countries may produce their vodkas using other products such as molasses (US, Canada, the Caribbean, and Australia). This brings about a vodka with a pure essence and a sweeter flavour.
- SKYY: This Californian vodka offers a wide variety of flavours. It was founded in 1992 and it is produced with grain. It presents a neutral aroma and a dry flavour.
- Iceberg: The purest vodka in the world is made in Canada by using triple distilled grain alcohol from peaches and cream from Ontario corn. The available flavours are cucumber, mint chocolate, and Crème Brulèe.
The Best Cocktails with Vodka
In the Baltic countries and in Eastern Europe vodka is usually drunk neat without any mixers. It is poured in very cold glasses and is accompanied by food. In contrast, in western countries vodka is commonly enjoyed in combination with a mixer or in cocktails.
Bloody Mary is one of the well-known cocktails which contain vodka (it is made with vodka, tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and ice). The cocktail Sex on the Beach is also a popular vodka cocktail (made with vodka, peach juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, and ice). The Cosmopolitan cocktail is another famous example (it is made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lemon juice. And let us not forget the classic Vodka Martini (with vodka, dry vermouth and olives).
Translated by Karoline Arlbeg