We’re all familiar with the wine-tasting events held in wineries and vineyards. Connoisseurs use terms like “full-bodied, fruity, balanced, earthy…” And the list goes on.
But when we talk about taste-testing vodka, people might think we’re crazy and looking for an excuse to get drunk tonight! Obviously, vodka has a way higher ABV than wine, so we can’t drink too much of it before we’re dancing on tables. However, it’s also worth learning about vodka’s flavors rather than seeing it as bitter water.
So, what does vodka taste like?
Read on to learn more about the wonders of vodka!
What is Vodka?
Vodka is a distilled spirit usually made from potatoes or grains. It’s made through fermenting and distilling a grain, may it be corn, wheat, or rye, among other grains, based on the distiller’s preference.
Traditionally, this clear liquor came from Russia and Poland. But nowadays, we find vodka produced and sold worldwide.
Fun fact: The USA and Europe contribute to the global vodka market. Russa and Eastern European countries consume the most vodka, with the USA following closely. This liqueur is the most popular for cocktails and shots, a must-have in all bars, hence its popularity!
Vodka doesn’t require any aging, and you can drink it immediately. It’s also cut with water from still strength to bottling proof, which is usually 40%. You can also find vodka with ABV levels from 50-95%! (*)
What Does Vodka Taste Like?
We all know vodka for not having any distinct flavor. It’s known for no smell or taste to the point people just drink it on its own or in cocktails without caring for it much.
Well, vodka isn’t necessarily odorless or tasteless. There are differences between different vodkas, each having subtle flavors if you taste them properly.
Before we get into what vodka tastes like, let’s take a look at the factors that can affect vodka’s taste, feel, and overall quality:
1. Vodka Quality
You’ve probably seen vodka labeled as a top shelf or bottom shelf, which are terms used to describe expensive and cheap vodka, respectively. Top shelf vodkas are premium vodkas that burn less but have higher alcohol content. Bottom shelf vodkas are cheaper vodkas that don’t have much flavor but a lot of the burn when drinking it!
2. Alcohol Content
On average, vodka has a 40% ABV, with ethanol being its main ingredient. This is a toxic chemical burning when consumed! Vodka producers created ways to help vodka go down smoothly even with the high alcohol content. The alcohol content would vary between brands, which results in a weaker or stronger liqueur.
3. Distillation Process
Vodka may be distilled from grains or vegetables, and it can be distilled multiple times. That means the vodka is stronger and causes the bitter aftertaste it’s known for.
High-quality distilleries that distill their vodka just once may result in vodka that’s much easier to drink. A distiller’s quality can matter more than the quantity.
Fun fact: You also might have heard of the heat of the vodka, which is the burn you feel on the back of your throat or tongue after drinking vodka! That heat depends on how much effort a distiller creates clean vodka. Cheaper brands tend to burn, while higher-end brands have a subtle, smoother flavor.
As you can see from liquor stores, there’s such a thing as flavored vodka! This is done because of the lack of distinct flavor in vodka.
Fun fact: Smirnoff and Svedka sell pink lemonade-flavored vodka, while Ciroc sells vodka with fruit or vegetable flavors!
So, these flavored vodkas would have ingredients like orange juice, cranberry juice, milk, lemonade, or other flavorings that affect vodka’s taste. The added flavoring will also affect the vodka’s alcohol content reducing it to focus more on the taste than bitterness.
Fun fact: You can make your own flavored vodka by combining clear vodka with herbs, spices, and fresh fruits to nail the flavor you desire.
Now, on to the critical question: What does vodka taste like?
Again, it really depends!
- Plain Vodka would simply taste bitter, with some people describing it as gasoline. Others would describe it as clean with milky notes and a hint of sugar.
- High-proof Vodka would taste much more intense and with a stronger kick, with some describing it as drinking liquid wasabi.
- Flavored Vodka would taste like the flavor it’s made of but with that added kick. Think of it as spiked punch or soda.
- Bison Grass, a popular vodka in Eastern Europe, is spiced with bison grass, a plant giving vodka the spicier and more herbal flavor. It’s pretty close to mint and is enjoyed by many, making it drinkable on its own.
In the end, vodka’s flavor varies based on different factors and the brand you purchase it from. But in general, this liqueur would taste spicy and have hints of the grain it’s made from, but you’ll mostly taste the alcohol.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you drink vodka on its own?
Yes, you can drink vodka on its own, as it was traditionally consumed straight, either sipped or downed immediately from shot glasses. You can chill a bottle before drinking or serve it on the rocks, so it goes down easier.
2. What cocktails contain vodka?
There are literally thousands of cocktails that contain vodka, which is key to many refreshing drinks we love ordering from the bar. Here are a few famous classic cocktails that feature vodka:
- Bloody Mary
- Vodka Martini
- Vodka Tonic
3. Can you cook with vodka?
Yes! Vodka is a popular ingredient in many recipes, particularly desserts and pasta sauces. It can add more intensity to the dish’s flavors without altering the taste.
Wrapping It Up
Did we answer your question, “what does vodka taste like?” Feel free to learn more about what other food and drinks taste like from our blog posts!