Vodka is a mysterious spirit. It's made from all the grainy, starchy things in the food pyramid yet it yields one of the most crisp, light, and refreshing finishes of any spirit. So how exactly does it get from grain form to that delicious cocktail in your hand? Better yet, what makes a vodka stand out as a premium or ultra premium vodka?
At Equality Vodka, we see vodka as the most diverse spirit out there. It's a blank canvas that allows bartenders and home cocktail mixers the creativity to create anything on a whim.
If you've been wondering how your favorite spirit is made and what makes a choice like Equality Vodka an ultra premium vodka, we've got you covered.
How is Vodka Made?
Vodka is made through a three-step process of fermentation, distillation, and dilution.
In the fermentation process, grains are broken down by bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms. The byproducts of fermentation are heat, carbon dioxide, and ethyl alcohol.
When vodka is made, the result is a liquid with about 16% alcohol by volume (ABV). If you've been reading your premium vodka bottles, you know that's far too low for spirits.
In order to get that percentage up to premium vodka standards, the vodka must then go through the distillation process. Distillation involves heating the liquid in a container called a still.
Because alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, the evaporated alcohol can be collected and condensed at a higher AVB percentage. These concentrated alcohol vapors – also known as fine spirits – contain 95-100% alcohol (aka, 190 proof!)... which isn't exactly pleasant to drink.
To create the perfect balance, water is added to the concentrated alcohol. Once this phase is complete, most vodka is 30% to 40% ABV, though 40% (or 80 proof) is most common.
While it seems like a simple three-step process, every step must be performed with meticulous attention to detail in order to create a spirit worthy of the title of ultra premium vodka.
What Can Vodka Be Made With?
Vodka was invented when, in the 1400s, a Moscow monk used the grains typically set aside for bread to create a new type of distilled alcohol. The first ever vodka was aptly named "bread wine." Later, in the 18th century, the Swedes began using potatoes to create the coveted clear cocktail and gave rise to the popularity of potato vodka.
However, over the centuries, people have experimented with all sorts of distillation to create and refine new vodkas. Eventually, people discovered that vodka can be made with grains such as sorghum, corn, rice, rye or wheat, as well as potatoes.
Because it's a neutral spirit devoid of color and odor, vodka can be distilled from virtually any fermentable ingredients. While some eastern European vodkas are still made from potatoes and corn, most high quality imports and all vodka made in the United States are distilled from cereal grains, such as wheat.
At Equality Vodka, our ultra premium vodka is made from the highest quality non-GMO grains sourced from the United States. Then, our vodka is distilled in a state-of-the-art process to capture only the purest finished product.
What Makes an Ultra Premium Vodka?
The honor of carrying "ultra premium vodka" on a label comes down to the minute details.
While most bottom shelf vodkas will be full of impurities (known as congeners) and rather tasteless other than a strong alcohol flavor, ultra premium vodka is quite another story.
Rather, an ultra premium vodka will have a unique flavor profile and drinking experience. Similar to how each different wine has a different flavor based on terroir, an ultra premium vodka has a distinct smell, flavor, aftertaste, and sensation.
For example, ultra premium vodka is typically unflavored yet can display notes of citrus, cream, or a variety of other tastes. It may also have a distinct aroma and leave lingering notes on the palate.
Best of all, an ultra premium vodka will cause virtually no burning sensation. Like Equality Vodka, these ultra premium spirits are often described as "smooth" or "clean" and create the perfect martini.
Oftentimes, achieving an ultra premium vodka comes down to the process used to distill and filter the batch. As with all great things, the more attention to detail and meticulous passion yields a superior product.
Creating a fantastic vodka is tough work, but it's easy to make a delicious cocktail with the right ultra premium vodka on your shelf. Now that you know a bit more about our favorite spirit, we invite you to share with us your favorite vodka cocktail in the comments below. (Extra points if you crafted your own!)