The Five Biggest Vodka Myths

While vodka is usually associated with Russia and other Eastern European countries, it’s actually America’s favorite spirit. (We drink more vodka than gin, rum, tequila and cognac combined.) But despite its popularity, it’s still pretty misunderstood. To clear up some common misconceptions, we asked Tony Abou-Ganim, an all-star bartender and author of  the recently published Vodka Distilled, for help. Here are the five most common myths he hears, along with the truth. Cheers!

All Vodka is the Same.

Not even close. The spirit reflects where it comes from and what it was distilled from. “Traditional-style vodkas, primarily from Eastern Europe, are much more assertive, robust and celebrate their raw ingredients,” says Abou-Ganim, while “the West produces a much softer, more approachable vodka.”

More Distillations = Better Vodka.

We hear this from a lot from both brands and consumers. But according to Abou-Ganim, this isn’t true. For one, each company defines exactly what constitutes a single distillation, and every distillery is set up differently. And if a vodka is over-distilled, there’s a risk of stripping out all the “flavor, aroma and character of the base ingredients,” he says. What you’re left with is essentially pure alcohol.

Vodka is Made from Potatoes.

While vodka can be distilled from potatoes—as with the Swedish Karlsson’s Gold Vodka—it can also be produced from pretty much anything. (The French Ciroc is grape-based, and there’s even a brand made from milk.) But most vodka in this country is made from corn, wheat or other grains.

You Don’t Need to Buy Good Vodka for Cocktails.

“I can’t promise you will always be able to taste the difference in the final drink,” Abou-Ganim says. “But if you drink enough of it, you will certainly feel [the difference] the next day. Life is too short to drink cheap, poorly distilled vodka!”

Price = Quality.

How much should you spend on vodka? It’s a pretty tough question, since the price tag isn’t an accurate indicator of quality. So, “do your homework: Taste as many vodkas in as many different price ranges as possible,” Abou-Ganim recommends. “I’ve tasted wonderful bottles of $12 vodka and wonderful bottles of $50 vodka.”

Learn more about vodka and get lots more cocktail recipes in our vodka guide.



Discussion

  • ljdcooksgmailcom542866841 posted 1 week ago

    Absolutely true J.T!!! Im tired of people trying to tell me that all alcohol is safe(gluten free) because of the distillation!!!

  • ljdcooksgmailcom542866841 posted 1 week ago

    Absolutely true J.T!!! Im tired of people trying to tell me that all alcohol is safe because of the distillation!!!

  • cccarresq@aol.com posted 2 weeks ago

    Interesting point on distillation. Some cheaper vodkas (which I tend to frequent, for cost reasons) tend to cover up the lack of quality attendant to the price by stating 3-5 times distilled. I assume any vodka must be distilled at least once but what should we be looking for?

  • J.T. posted 3 months ago

    Another is that ALL vodka is gluten free. This is not so, just ask the TTB. If it is made from a product that contains gluten (wheat, barley, rye based), then no matter how much you distill and filter, it will always have traces of gluten in it. Some brands feel this is good enough, but to put someone who has celiac disease at risk just because you want to run a marketing campaign, I think I would rather sleep at night. One of the smoothest naturally gluten free vodkas on the market that I have tasted is Azzurre Vodka out of Vegas. Made from apples, wine grapes, and sugar cane, you can sip it on the rocks like a fine bourbon and enjoy every minute of the experience.

  • justin.i.harmon posted 5 months ago

    Tito's vodka is Guten free. Also no hangovers.

  • MikeLM posted 5 months ago

    About six or eight years ago, the Wall Street Journal had a fun, front-page article about the making of the new designer vodkas. According to the Journal, you think of a catchy name, design an idiosyncratic bottle and a flashy label, and figure out some quirky water to mix with your alcohol (I believe one brand claims to use water from melted icebergs.) Than you order your Beverage-Grade Alcohol, which is 98%+ pure alcohol... from Archer Daniels Midland, the giant agricultural-products producer. They will deliver it to you either in a railroad tank car or a tanker semi-trailer truck; your choice. You do your hocus-pocus and behold- you have a $50 vodka!

  • sasimaporn.sukthaisong.9 posted 5 months ago

    You should taste test Vodkas at room temp. Also, Ketel- One Fan...

  • keywestkrazyaolcom950513734 posted 6 months ago

    Sugar;-(

  • keywestkrazyaolcom950513734 posted 6 months ago

    Some Vodka has sugar added to it? Not talking about, things Like flavored vodkas such as cotton candy. I didn't know that.

  • RBuett posted 8 months ago

    Vodka....Crisp; Clean; Fresh bouquet - purest alcohol - aka: Absolut, Svedka, etal! If I want to sit around and savor the taste, I'll save up my money and invest in a bottle of Crown Royal. Thanks.


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