Debunking the great vodka myths

We’ve all heard the different stories about what vodka is and what it does, so here we are going to look at some of those myths...

Myth #1: All vodkas are the same

All vodkas are not the same. While vodka is, by legal definition, "A neutral spirit without distinctive character," without distinctive character does not mean "no flavour." Vodka is a delicate spirit that can be easily overpowered in cocktails. Many different vodkas will taste the same in your favourite drink. However, when evaluated straight or with a little water, individual attributes will shine through.

Big differences between vodkas result from the quality and type of the raw materials used, the distillation technique and the quality of the bottling.

Myth #2: All vodkas are made by the brand owner or marketer

All vodkas are not made by the brand owner or marketer. Due to cost considerations the majority of vodkas are distilled by large etha- nol producers located in Europe and America, who in turn sell grain-neutral spirits to rectifiers and bottlers.

Myth #3: All vodka is made from potatoes

No. Very little vodka is made from potatoes. The primary ingredient used in the manufacture of vodka is corn.

Myth #4: There is no water in a bottle of vodka

Not so. Vodka comes off the still, by law, at 190 proof. The average bottle of vodka is sold at 80 proof. At this point please retrieve your calculator! If no calculator is at hand, the short answer is 57.89474% water.

Myth #5: All vodkas are imported

Not so. There are a number of vodkas brewed in Ireland and incidentally, while you may think the best vodka automatically comes from Russia, think again. In fact it’s France who is producing what is currently the best vodka in the world!

Myth #6: The more expensive, the better it is

Not the case. Many less expensive vodka brands are excellent and offer a real value. The key to quality lies in the type of raw materials being used, the distillation technique and the quality of the bottling. With packaging costs often exceeding the product cost many times over, don’t be misled by an expensive, shiny package .

Myth #7: Vodka is supposed to be odourless and tasteless

With no odour or taste, we would have water. Of course vodkas have tastes and odours. Some are very light and are easily overpowered by mixers such as orange juice. Some vodka brands are known for their oily character. Vodkas gain their character from the grain source used to make the initial spirit and from the distillation process.

Myth #8: Some vodka brands will not give you a hangover

Hangovers are a function of over-consumption. The only prevention of a hangover is responsible consumption. That said, some vodkas are "cleaner " than others as a result of the distillation process. "Dirty" vodka, in which many congeners and impurities remain after distillation, is thought to have an effect on the severity of a hangover.

Myth #9: Nothing is added to vodka

No. By law, during the production process, small amounts of "blender" or "flavour additives" can be added to vodka.

Myth #10: It doesn’t matter what vodka you use in a mixed drink

Higher proof vodka brings out the flavour in whatever it is mixed with. For example: a screwdriver mixed using 100 proof vodka will have much more of an orange flavour than one mixed with 80 proof vodka.