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How to Make Vodka?

There is nothing better than having a drink to help you relax after a long day.  When it comes to alcohol, each person has their own preferences.  Today we are going to have a closer look at Vodka.  

Vodka is a very popular drink all over the world.  In 2012 alone 1.17 billion gallons (4.44 billion liters) of this alcoholic beverage were sold worldwide. Everyone has their favorite way of how they enjoy vodka.  Some prefer it on the rocks, in a vodka martini, Cosmo,  screwdriver, or along with other mixes. 

Vodka must have a minimum alcohol content of 40%, that is the standard requirement in the USA and in Europe, the minimum is 37.5%

The Origins Of Vodka

The name vodka originates from the Slavician word voda (water), which means little water.  Originally vodka was used for medicinal purposes and in cosmetics.  The first time that the word vodka was recorded in history was in 1405, from Akta Grodzkie, the recorder of deeds. 

Vodka quickly became a popular drink in Poland and Russia. During the Napoleonic wars, it became a very popular drink amongst the soldiers.  After the Russian Revolution, a distiller relocated to France and started a distillery, namely Smirnoff

What Is Vodka Made From?

Any sugar-or starch-rich plant can be used to distill vodka.  Many distilleries today use grains such as corn, rye, wheat, or sorghum.  Some even say that rye and wheat vodkas are superior to other vodkas.  Potato and sugar beet molasses can also be used to produce traditional vodka.  

Some vodkas are even distilled with only a solution from crystallized sugar and yeast. 

What Ingredients To Choose? 

The ingredients that you select plays a huge role in the final outcome of the vodka because, even though vodka is mostly flavorless and colorless, these ingredients can alter the aroma of your vodka.  Here is a quick look at some of the most common ingredients used for distilling vodka; 

Wheat - It as a subtle aniseed, peppery and lemon zesty flavour

Rye - Nutty sweetness

Maize/corn - Buttery undertones

Barley - Light nuttiness with a brioche sweetness

Potato - Full flavour, creamy texture  

When using potatoes, certain varieties are used, those with a higher starch content are preferred.  Small potatoes are better to use as they have more starch, bigger ones have more water content.  

Interesting fact, it takes about 16 tons of potatoes to make about 1000 liters of spirit at 96.4% alc./vol.

How Long Does Vodka Take To Ferment? 

Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast is added to get the fermentation process started.  It metabolizes sugars producing ethanol, other alcohols, carbon dioxide and heat. 

This yeast is normally added to the mash when it is about 30°C (86°F).  The best temperature that this yeast functions at is between 23.8-35°C (74.8-91°F) any warmer than that and the yeast will die and fermentation will stop. 

The fermentation process usually takes between one day to two weeks, it all depends on the base ingredient.  The final product of the fermentation will leave you with a wash, which has a beer-like consistency, with a 7-15%alc/vol.  A well controlled fermentation process that is slow will produce a better quality wash with lower levels of fusel and methanol.

How Do You Make Vodka At Home?  

You can easily make vodka at home.  There are a huge variety of vodka recipes out there since this beverage can be made from so many different products.  Many ingredients are easily accessible and you probably have most of the required equipment at home.   

How Vodka Is Made Step By Step?   

Have you ever wondered how Vodka is made?  Well here is your chance to give it a try and make your very own Vodka. 

Ingrédients  

  • 7 Gallons of water
  • 25 Pounds of Potatoes
  • 5 Pounds of Crushed malted Barley

You will also need a mash pot, heat source, thermometer, long spoon, yeast, fermentation bucket, cheese cloth, citric acid, pH meter and a hydrometer

Step 1 - Clean the potatoes, cut them in cubes and boil for 20 minutes in 7 gallons of water.  Blend potatoes, add water again till it reaches 7 gallons. Raise heat for 140°F and in the malted barley.  Cook for 20 minutes, rais temp. to 152°F for 1 hour. Gravity reading should be 1065. Cool mixture to 75°F or overnight if possible. 

Step 2 - Only transfer the liquid of the mash to a new bucket. Aerate it as best as possible.  And your yeast to the mixture. Ferment mixture for 2 weeks at room temp. Once fermentation is completed, you can check that with a hydrometer, strain to remove all of the solid materials. A cheesecloth works great to get all the pieces out. 

Step 3 - Make sure that your equipment is clean for the distillation process.  Add the clear liquid to your kettle, or still.  Slowly heat the fluid up to 110°F then raise the temperature to 170°F at which point the distillation process will start.  You will need to adjust your heat source until you get 1-3 drips per second.

Step 4 - Collect the vodka.  About 30% of the liquid will be called “heads” ; this is not customer friendly and needs to be discarded.  Heads usually contain methanol which can cause blindness. Then you will get the “hearts” it is next 30% this is the vodka, the sweet spot.  The final 35% is the “tails” and can be identified by its different smell or an oily film on top. You can keep this and run it as a wash to make more vodka. 

What Is The Easiest Alcohol To Make? 

Learning to make alcohol is tricky but once you have mastered the art, it is really nothing to it.  The easiest alcohol to make is mead, a honey wine that Vikings used to drink.  Vodka is also one of the easier spirits to make and you can easily produce your very own at home.

Is It Hard To Make Vodka?

Yes and no.  You can make Vodka from anything that has fermentable sugar.  The hardest thing about making vodka is that you need to distill to produce the high alcohol level that is required.  A proper still kit is preferable for making vodka because this tool makes it much easier to produce a high proof vodka and these devices give you more control over the end result. 

We do hope that you enjoyed our recipe.  If you follow these steps carefully, you should have fine tasting spirits to sip at home in no time at all. , Vodka has health properties as well, just have a look here to find out more about the health benefits of drinking vodka opposed to other liquors.