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Russian Vodka

Russian Vodka

The word Vodka stems from the Russian for water, voda, and it originated in Eastern Europe around the 8th or 9th Century. The latter of which is when the first recorded production took place in Russia, although the first confirmed distillery was not mentioned until 1174 in a newspaper, the Vyatka Chronicle. Vodka had multiple uses back in the middle ages. It was used as an ingredient in the production of medicine and gunpowder. It has been considered the Russian national drink since the 14th century, when a British emissary was taken aback by the sheer quantity consumed in the country. With the production of Russian vodka still fairly basic, there were flaws in the spirit that the locals hid well by adding flavours to it such as fruit, spices and herbs.

The 15th century saw progress in the methods, with pot distillation becoming a popular method of producing vodka, along with new ways of filtering led to an increase in the amount of distilleries in the country. The first noted exportation of Russian vodka began shortly after in 1505, with shipments beginning from Russia to Sweden. In the 18th century, attempts were made to control the number of distillers by making it a right of nobility to own one. Still, by this point, there were a number of different methods and ingredients that went into the different vodkas, rather than having a standardised method of producing the spirit. Filtering became much cheaper and easier later in the century when a Russian professor created a way of filtering using charcoal that helped refine the finished product.

The Napoleonic Wars helped spread the popularity of vodka amongst Europe, in which potato became the main ingredient used because it was the most common at the time. Then finally, to control the amount of distillers and the problems the country had stemming from people being drunk, a law was passed in 1984 to make all distilleries state owned. Then the Russians were able to control the methods and supply of the spirit and officially recognised the word vodka as the term for the beverage. The Bolshevik revolution then led to the distilleries seized for the new regime. Many Russian distillers fled the country, taking their skills with them, and set up in other countries, spreading the popularity of the spirit in the western world, and vodka has never looked back.

A spirit so versatile has multiple ways and methods of production, as well as the ingredients used. The techniques used today are much more advanced, leading to mass produced vodkas that have been perfected for the western market. Most Russian vodkas use potatoes or grain as the main ingredient in it as they are the cheapest and most easily obtainable. The Russians have lived up to their reputation as great vodka enthusiasts and we have an excellent selection to demonstrate.

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