Vodka is a distilled beverage made from the fermenting sugary substances, most often grains, potatoes and in some cases fruits. Since the discovery of modern distillation process in 8th century Persia, brewers from all around the world started experimenting and finding ways to create more potent and alcohol rich drinks. The art of distillation found the biggest support in Poland and Russia, and those regions became the home of the modern day vodka. Initially used as a medical remedy, vodka slowly became more and more popular in the general population, eventually reaching the status of national drink of those two countries. From the time vodka went from local drink to the worldwide phenomenon, brewers from all around the world started introducing new types and flavors of vodka. Today many regions of the world produce their unique vodka's, often created with various flavors or from fermented fruits.
Although technological advancements enabled brewers to control every aspect of the vodka creation, the original recipe is still a simple and most effective way to create high-quality vodka. The fact that vodka can be distilled from any starch or sugar-based plant matter gave it great popularity around the world.
Here are the most basics steps for assembling raw materials and manufacture of vodka.
Vegetables or Grains - Although original vodka was made from potatoes, this versatile drink can be produced from virtually any fermentable ingredients that are filled with starch or sugar. The most popular source for fermentation is wheat, rye or corn.
Water - Water can have significant effect to the final flavor of vodka, especially if distiller decides not to make "neutral tasting" drink. Underground natural water is often filled with various minerals collected from the rocks and ground.
Malt meal - To enable transformation of starch into sugar, some grains and vegetables require presence of this ingredient.
Yeast - This very important ingredient is essential for the process of fermentation. It transforms present sugar into alcohol. This process can however create liquid with only 14% alcohol volume.
Flavor Additives - At the end of the production process, distiller can choose to put any number of flavor additives in his drink. Most popular flavors range from herbs, grasses, spices to fruit essences.
1. Preparation of mash - After deciding what type of grain or fruit is to be used, distiller must insert it into automated mash tub. If grain consists mostly from scratch, malt meal must be introduced to transform it into sugar.
2. Sterilization - Prevention of the appearance of bacteria during the fermentation process is very essential. For this purpose, entire mash must be boiled and thus sterilized. As another technique of prevention, the mash is injected with lactic-acid bacteria which raise acidity level of entire mash and prepares it for better fermentation.
3. Fermentation - Fermentation is done by pouring prepared mash into sterilized large stainless steel vats. For the next two to four days yeast transforms sugars in the mash into ethyl alcohol.
4. Distillation and rectification - Liquid ethyl alcohol that was produced in fermentation needs to be poured in stainless steel stills, which collect vaporized alcohol and transfer it into sterilized chamber. During this process water and impurities remain in the first chamber, enabling the produced liquid to have higher alcohol content.
5. Adding water and flavor additives - After distillation, produced liquid have between 95-100% alcohol content. To became drinkable, water must be added to weaken the alcohol to the standardized 40% level (some countries have varying laws about the required alcohol content). If distiller wants, at this point he can add flavor additives.
6. Bottling - Vodka does not have aging processes like wine or whiskey. It can immediately be transferred into non-reactive glass bottles. Automated distilleries use machines to sometimes process 400 bottles per minute.