When you think about drinks that are served neat, your brain probably goes to whiskey, gin, or brandy. It’s rare that someone will ask for a vodka neat. Why is that?
Technically, vodka is supposed to be flavorless, odorless, and colorless. What’s fun about sipping a drink that tastes like water?
However, if you’ve ever tried vodka, you know that it does, in fact, taste like something. Excluding flavored vodkas, the taste of plain ordinary vodka depends on what it’s made with. There are subtle differences in flavor and texture when made with different substances.
If you don’t spend a lot of time drinking vodka straight, you may have never thought about its origins. You might be surprised to discover that vodka is not just potatoes.
What is Vodka Made From
We often think vodka is made from potatoes. And while that’s true, you can also make vodka from various grains and even grapes. Each type of vodka will produce a different flavor.
Vodka made from potatoes is often said to have more flavor than those made from grains.
Good, high-end potato vodka can have an earthy, rustic taste. Often notes of parsnip or radishes are found.
Potato vodka also has a somewhat thicker, more velvety texture that produces a clean finish after swallowing.
Low-quality corn vodkas are rarely drinkable on their own. They are harsh to drink and have a heavy, chemical aftertaste. These are mostly meant as mixers.
Good-quality corn vodka should actually be tasteless and smooth with the barest hint of sweetness. Although they aren’t easy to find in America, high-end corn vodka is fairly common in Europe.
Vodka made from rye tends to be spicy and peppery. It will give you that distinctive vodka burn in the back of your throat, but the finish will be smooth.
A good rye vodka can also have a creamy texture as opposed to a smooth one. Although either is good for vodka.
Vodka made from wheat is a little lighter, crisper, and sweeter than the other varieties.
Overall, wheat vodka is mild-flavored with a smooth finish.
Yes, you can make vodka from grapes. It’s not even all that uncommon.
However, vodka made with grapes doesn’t really taste similar to vodkas made with potatoes or grains.
Grape vodka is sweet and tart. In addition, it’s, probably unsurprisingly, fruity. It’s smooth and refreshing and similar to drinking water than to alcohol.
In the late 1980s, flavored vodka came onto the scene.
However, not all flavored vodka is created equally. Some flavored vodkas are made to enhance the vodka, so some of the flavors of the vodka shine through. However, others were made to mask the flavor of the vodka, helping make cheap vodka more palatable.
These days, you can find vodka in almost any flavor you can imagine. While we could never provide a complete or even semi-complete list, these are some of the most popular.
- Strawberry lemonade
- Whipped Cream
- Iced tea
What if I Don’t Like Vodka
Well, the simple answer is, don’t drink it! There are so many other choices. Don’t drink things you don’t like.
That said, there are a few ways to drink vodka if the taste is turning you off.
Make a Cocktail
There are more varieties of vodka cocktails than grains in a serving of rice. If you want to completely mask the taste of the vodka, try something like a Bloody Mark or a Screwdriver. The taste of the fruit juices will overpower the taste of the vodka.
However, you also want something that just takes the edge of the vodka and enhances it. In that case, you could try a dirty martini or vodka soda with a twist of lime.
Infuse Your Own Vodka
The thought of paying $30 for a bottle of flavored vodka that you might not like could turn you off. If it does, you can try making your own at home.
When infusing your own vodka, you can decide how much flavor you want and how much of the vodka you want to taste. You also get to decide exactly what flavor you want.
Easy things to infuse in vodka are citrus fruits, vanilla, and chili peppers. Just add your choices along with the vodka into a jar and cover it tightly. Give it a shake once a day for seven days and you’ve got your own infused vodka.
Water it Down
While not always a popular choice, if scotch drinkers can drink scotch and water, why can’t you? Go ahead and dilute your vodka until it is less harsh to your liking.
We tend to think vodka should be tasteless. However, it does actually have a variety of different flavors depending on how it was made.
If you want a somewhat spicier vodka, choose one made with rye. After a more tart flavor, look for one made with grapes.
There are also several ways to dilute the flavor of vodka. If you think what you have is just a little too strong for you, maybe try a cocktail. Or use it to make your own infused vodka that you’re sure to love.