vodka facts that might surprise you

Vodka is a distilled clear alcoholic beverage. It is composed mainly of water, ethanol, and some come in different flavors. In the last few decades, Vodka has risen from being a simple medicinal remedy discovered through distillation to a favorite alcoholic drink. It's currently one of the most consumed spirits around the world. There are very many fascinating facts about Vodka that will blow your mind.

A few months ago I wasn't a fan of vodka. Sure ... I enjoyed my vodka cranberry as an easy "go to drink" and when with a group of guys doing shots and eating sausages around a fire it is the drink of choice.

However, I was under the misunderstanding that vodka was simply an odorless, tasteless, colorless spirit that you had to add flavoring or mixes to in order to fully enjoy. Compared to whiskey, agave spirits, and even gin - this was just boring. Frankly speaking, there is a lot of bad vodkas out there in the market since most people simply don't care to consider the complexity or the heritage that some brands have, going back through centuries of innovation. Over the past few weeks though, my eyes have opened.

Through the efforts of Belvedere Vodka especially, I am now looking at vodka the way I would whiskey and tequila. For instance, there is heritage and pride with both distilling talent and the farmers who produce the grain. Additionally, from a flavor perspective, I've discovered source of sugar matters, the water source matters, and you are starting to see craft vodka being created by distillers around the world as well as "single estate" expressions produced by folks such as Belvedere itself.

I was so excited to share some of this newfound knowledge that I gathered a couple of friends to chat about it in celebration of National Vodka Day. 

Alcohol Content Is Not Always 80 Proof

There are different alcohol regulations in different countries and while many legislate the minimum alcohol content for Vodka to be 40%, not everyone does. Despite this, 80 proof or 40% is by far the most common strength to package spirits in general though vodka often ranges between 35% and 60%. However, for those of you wanting the ultimate kick ... Spirytus makes a 96% alcohol vodka in Poland that is said to be the strongest commercially available vodka anywhere in the world.

Vodka isn't Made Only from Potatoes

Many people think that Vodka is made using potatoes, which is not the case. While most vodka brands are made from grains such as wheat and rye, virtually anything with sugar can be distilled to create vodka. While vodka made from wheat is said to be lighter,  Vodka with potatoes as the base is a bit denser and slightly sweeter compared to the rest. My preference though is grape vodka such as that from Ciroc as well as craft brands such as DiVine from Roundbarn Distillery in Michigan.

On the other hand, while grains are the most common way to produce vodka, premium brands such as  Grey Goose can still add extra layers of complexity to create a unique product.  For instance, Grey Goose is made with winter wheat from Picardie, France and spring water from Cognac. While it’s a grain vodka and distilled only once to preserve the character of the ingredients, Grey Goose is still entirely gluten-free as the distillation process removes all gluten from the final product.

Vodka Will Freeze at -11.2° F

The ethanol content in Vodka stays in its liquid form unless it reaches a temperature of -11.2°F (-24°C) for 80 proof concentration. This may be one reason why Vodka is so popular in Eastern Europe and  Russia. However, for those folks coldest part of Russia, like Northern Siberia, they are out of luck if you want to keep your vodka liquid since temperatures there during January the average temperature is -13 °F and on Feb 3, 1933 they recorded a -89.9 °F record. That's colder than the average temperature on Mars, 80 °F!

Vodka Can be Used for Medicinal Purposes

Vodka has very many benefits in human metabolism. It helps keep preferred cholesterol levels in the body constant. It is also a remedy for colds, sores, and fever. Vodka is said to help prevent stroke, heart attacks, and Alzheimer's. It should be noted that an ounce of Vodka has about 65 calories, therefore, you should take caution during consumption. However, that is still among the lowest caloric counts compared to whiskey at 70 and gin at 73.

Vodka Is A Powerful Disinfectant

We have all seen in the movies people pouring Vodka on gunshot wounds. However, it's not just in movies. In the past, Soldiers used Vodka to treat and disinfect wounds. In the battlefields, the medical personnel made seriously injured soldiers to consume large quantities of Vodka as a form of anesthetic before treatment.

A Million-Dollar Vodka Bottle

The most expensive Vodka ever made is the appropriately named, Billionaire Vodka, priced at $3.75 million. It is triple distilled and filtered through ice, sand from crushed gem, and nordic birch charcoal. Its bottle is embellished with diamonds and solid gold labeling. When you make an order, it will be delivered to you by a very secure courier, and they will be wearing white gloves.

Vodka Can Be Gluten-Free 

You don't have to avoid taking Vodka just because you are gluten intolerant. Several brands are made using grains, but few use corn or potatoes as alternative ingredients. For instance, Crystal Head uses Canadian Corn, Grey Goose and Ciroc use grapes. Because there are no gluten-packed grains used in the distillation process there will never be any gluten in the final product. However, in reality, virtually all distilled products are gluten-free since any remaining protein (gluten) remains at the bottom of the still while the alcohol vapors are collected and then condensed to form the spirit. This is true for most distilled spirits including whiskey but can be especially true for vodka made from corn, grapes, or potato since there was never any gluten in the recipe to begin with.

Vodka Should Be Served Cold But Not Frozen

While many people insist that vodka should be stored in the freezer, I disagree. However, I disagree that it should be served at that temperature. Many people prefer this since ice-cold temperatures will mute the harshness found in cheap vodka. However,  when chilled and served at slightly above freezing - 35-45 degrees - its viscosity changes and richness are brought out and it is the ideal temperature for consuming vodka with friends. My preference though is to taste a fine vodka such as Grey Goose, Belvedere, or Ketel One for instance, at closer to 60 degrees. While some people don't appreciate the flavor in vodka and it can sometimes be harsh, I feel like this is the best way to enjoy the nuances and complexity of a super-premium or craft vodka.

There Is No Specific Recipe for Making Vodka

Countries across the world have their recipes for making Vodka. Even the ingredient used vary from one distiller or country to another. The different components used in the making of the spirit include potatoes, grains, fruits, and molasses, to mention a few.

Vodka Has a 20 Year Shelf Life

Vodka is a very long-lasting alcoholic drink. Some vodka brands, when opened have a shelf life of close to 20 years. It means that the taste of the spirit will stay the same over the years. However, when opened, oxidation occurs rapidly, and the taste of Vodka changes over time. Most manufacturers advise on the consumption of the drink within two years of purchase.

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