Written by
The Drink Chef

Who Invented Vodka?

Published on
October 6, 2022

A short story of where vodka comes from.

Ancient Rivalry - The Poles or the Russians? – Who Invented Vodka?

Essentially... vodka is the alcohol (ethanol) derived from the fermentation and distillation of a myriad of different grains, fruits or potatoes. Vodka's neutral taste makes it a flexible cocktail base and a virtually risk-free liquor. By law vodka is regulated to be odorless, colorless and flavorless, however ‘flavored’ vodkas are regulated a little differently that allow those products to have citrus, fruit or herb flavors added.

Vodka is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is clear and colorless, mostly flavorless and odorless, and contains 40 to 50% alcohol by volume.

In cocktails, vodka is the world’s most frequently consumed distilled alcoholic beverage because of its extreme versatility. So to figure out who invented vodka is a notable endeavor. This chameleon elixir mixes with just about anything. Although the exact origin of vodka is unknown, historians believe that it originated in either Russia or Poland in the 1300s.

The ‘who invented vodka’ is debated between Poland and Russia in earnest! The name ‘vodka’ is derived from the Russian word ‘voda’, which means ‘little water’. Numerous modifications to vodka have been done in both the United States, several European countries and the world over, in some form or another.

History of Vodka invention

Though many believe Poland was the first nation to produce vodka, and the initial drips were somewhat different from the vodka we have now, the exact origin is hotly debated.

As per myths, the original Russian vodka recipe was created around the year 14th century by a priest by the name of Isidore who belonged to a Monastery inside the Moscow Kremlin.

In 1174, a little town called Khylnovsk is said to have given birth to the first Russian distillery. Is this who invented vodka?

Although the exact origin of Polish vodka is uncertain. Some suggest that the monk Stanczyk developed vodka in the early 15th century, while others assert that it was prince Jan III Sobieski who popularized vodka in Poland.

In Sweden, vodka initially emerged in the late 15th century under the name ‘brännvin’. Sweden changed the name of the beverage from Brannvin to vodka in the 1950s. Absolut, the most well-known vodka brand, was introduced in 1979 by Swedish vodka manufacturers.

Vodka arrived in North America during World War I, and it was produced in Western nations throughout World War II, growing in popularity to this modern day as the most ordered spirit, hands down.

Ingredients used for making Vodka

During the 14th century, grapes were the main component of vodka, however today...here, we list a few of the most important ingredients used to manufacture modern day vodka.

  • Grain: Any grain, including rye, sorghum, barley, and wheat, can be used to make grain vodka, which has a taste of sweetness, nutty flavor, and woodsiness. It tastes quite mild and is much easier to make than vodka made from maize or potatoes. With a lighter texture than other vodkas, wheat vodkas are crisp, somewhat tangy, and flavorful. Like the grain itself, rye has a similar flavor that is peppery or spicy. A velvety texture, butter, and vanilla flavors, and a modest tendency toward sweetness are all characteristics of corn vodka.
  • Potato: It is the main component in vodka production and was initially made by the Russians and Poles who invented vodka first. One of the less expensive ingredients that can be grown almost everywhere is the potato. Smaller potatoes are specifically chosen for distillation and used as ingredients in vodka because they contain more starch than larger potatoes, which are more water-filled.
  • Fruit: One can readily get this alcohol all over the world. It was originally grain vodka that had apple flavors added. While maple sap has a delicate caramel aroma ideal for sweet summer drinks, apples provide a pleasantly fruity touch to vodka. It has a freshness that is uncommon to find in grain-based vodkas and is bright, clear, and just a little bit sweet.
  • Honey: Orange blossom honey is used to make Comb Vodka. Comb vodka is produced from orange blossom honey. The creators who invented vodka first claim that this little touch maintains more of the characteristics of the underlying ingredient, allowing the sweet and flowery notes to stand out in the finished product.
  • Maple Sap: Light caramel scents and a mild, sweet maple flavor can be found in maple sap-derived vodka. This vodka is a wonderful base for sweeter-style drinks because of its mild sweetness that falls short of becoming overwhelming.

How to make Vodka?

Farms that produce vodka employ a variety of ingredients. Additionally, they adhere to the steps below for producing vodka according to industry standards.

  • Vodka producers will combine grains with water and yeast to create a fermentable base, such as wheat malt, and flaked maize. The agitators in the mash tub break down the grain as it turns. To promote the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, a ground malt meal is added.
  • The mash is first heated to the boiling point to sanitize it. Then, to increase the acidity level required for fermentation, it is injected with lactic-acid bacteria.
  • The liquid is separated from the sediments that have undergone fermentation by vodka producers. The ethanol will be used to create vodka, and the solids will be strained away.
  • By heating and vaporizing the liquid in the mash, a process called ‘distillation’ removes most of the volume and the impurities held within the alcohol is then collected when the vapor is recondensed. The end product is at a higher alcoholic content than is allowed by law, so water is added to adhere to these standards. The vodka is diluted to the desired alcohol concentration by measuring the alcohol by volume and gradually adding water.
  • Some vodka producers add flavorings during any stage of the vodka making process, during fermentation, distillation or filtration, these flavors range wide to achieve the desired finished product.


An unexpected renaissance of the mid-twentieth century is vodka. It has been quite the trip from an obscure Russian / Polish staple... to the most popular modern day cocktail spirit. The one who invented vodka had achieved something remarkable in the history of alcohol as vodka had turned out to be one of the most favored drinks of the current era.

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