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Vodka

Vodka is the queen of spirits, and perhaps the world's most popular white liquor. Its origin, which is disputed between Russia and Poland, dates back to the 14th century, and the name derives from the Russian and Polish diminutive of 'water'. The filtering of the distillate with charcoal contributes to the purity and transparency that have made it appreciated throughout the world. Production in Western Europe and America is a recent and successful phenomenon, so much so that nowadays a distinction is made between the traditional Eastern style and the Western style, which may be flavoured. Whether enjoyed neat and cold, as tradition dictates, or in cocktails and long drinks, as is the custom in Western countries, it is loved throughout the world for its remarkable and elegant aromatic cleanliness.

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Vodka is the queen of spirits, and perhaps the world's most popular white liquor. Its origin, which is disputed between Russia and Poland, dates back to the 14th century, and the name derives from the Russian and Polish diminutive of 'water'. The filtering of the distillate with charcoal contributes to the purity and transparency that have made it appreciated throughout the world. Production in Western Europe and America is a recent and successful phenomenon, so much so that nowadays a distinction is made between the traditional Eastern style and the Western style, which may be flavoured. Whether enjoyed neat and cold, as tradition dictates, or in cocktails and long drinks, as is the custom in Western countries, it is loved throughout the world for its remarkable and elegant aromatic cleanliness.

The Origins and Legends of Vodka in Russia, Poland and the Western World

Vodka originated in Eastern Europe from the tradition of extracting alcohol from beer or wine by means of freezing, a technique soon abandoned and replaced by the more refined distillation of fermented must from cereals or tubers. While the earliest evidence dates back to the beginning of the 15th century and comes from Poland, the first distilleries were most likely established in Russia. The invention of this spirit is disputed between the two countries, which both proudly claim to have invented it.

According to one widely accepted hypothesis, it was enterprising Italian traders who exported the practice of distillation to the Tsar's court in Russia. The great success of distillates over the centuries seems to have been mainly attributable to the need to cope with the harsh climate, but also to the abundance of top-quality cereals and potatoes.

Little is known about the first centuries of its production and tradition conveys the image of a poor quality product consumed by peasants and farm workers, also called "gorzalka" in Poland and "polugar" or "salomon" in Russia.

It was probably produced in archaic discontinuous stills from a fermented mixture of various cereals including barley, rye, wheat or potato skins. In general, it was supposed to be rough and slightly sweet. In Russia, vodka soon became central to the policies of the Tsars, who were increasingly interested in controlling production, imposing taxes, setting the cost and tackling social problems related to alcoholism.

Russian vodka became famous throughout Europe thanks to Napoleon, who enjoyed it during the disastrous Russian campaign of 1812. However, it was not until the October Revolution of 1917 that the consumption of dry vodka spread rapidly around the world, as many Russian nobles and bourgeoisie distillery owners emigrated. Among them was Piotr Smirnov who, after having his family's old distillery confiscated by the Bolshevik revolutionaries, emigrated to Paris and changed his surname to Smirnoff, a name that has become a symbol of Russian vodka excellence.

While this traditional spirit had remained firmly linked to the working class, peasant and popular traditions in Eastern European countries, from the 1950s onwards it became a symbol of elegance, class and refinement throughout the Western world. This was thanks to the innovative cocktails that, at the height of the Cold War, were consumed by characters in American spy films, such as Agent 007 James Bond.

Its great success continues today throughout the Western world and great expressions are produced not only in Russia and Poland, but also in the United States, Scandinavia, Italy and, above all, France, home of Ciroc vodka and the famous Grey Goose, one of the best on the market. On Callmewine you can find a wide selection of vodka from all over the world.



Essence, Characteristics and Consumption Traditions

The best vodka is a crystal-clear distillate with a clean taste and light, almost tasteless aromas. The purer, softer, colourless and tasteless it is, the higher its quality and value. According to the standard of absolute purity, it is nowadays produced in modern, highly efficient column stills. The number of distillations can vary between a minimum of two and a maximum of nine, and the raw materials used are cereals rich in starch and sugar, such as barley, rye and wheat, or, less commonly, potatoes.

The final filtration with charcoal or other fine and creative materials and the dilution with pure water finally make the distillate a neutral, clean, crisp and very pure product. Today we tend to distinguish between traditional expressions, produced in accordance with production practices typical of Eastern European countries, and more modern products, often flavoured, which are very popular among young people for creating cocktails.

Traditionally, this spirit should be drunk neat and cold in order to appreciate it to the maximum. In Russia, it is served in a small flared goblet as an accompaniment to dishes such as caviar, boiled eggs, anchovies and smoked fish. It can also often be served with pastries and fruit. In Italy and all Western European countries it is typically enjoyed neat and very cold, in chilled glasses, or in famous cocktails and long drinks, including Black Russian, Moscow Mule, Bloody Mary, Long Island, Screwdriver and various others.

If you want to learn more and discover the world of this fascinating spirit, have a look at the selection of the most prestigious bottles on sale on the Callmewine online wine shop. Discover the characteristics of vodka and buy the bottles you want at the best price online on Callmewine.