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Vodka Vodka is a clear liquor manufactured from ethyl alcohol. It lacks color, and normally has very little taste or aroma. Vodka is the base ingredient for many cocktails, mixed drinks, and alcoholic products today. It is said to have been originally created from potatoes in Russia for medicinal purposes. Nowadays, Vodka is distilled from barley, wheat or rye. The standard method of making vodka is by fermenting and distilling grain Vodka is a rectified spirit, meaning it is distilled at least three times, it is then filtered through charcoal. Vodka requires no aging and is ready to drink right away. Many vodkas are also infused with fruit or spice flavorings to create popular flavored vodkas like lemon, berry and pepper. Vodka usually has an alcohol content of 35% to 50% by volume Two brands that represent the two prominent styles are Absolut and Stolichnaya. Absolut has an oily, silky sweet texture, while Stolichnaya is clean and watery. Less expensive brands tend to burn in the mouth and throat while premium brands are quite smooth and excellent for shots and Martinis Grey Goose – France – Wheat Stolichnaya – Russia – Wheat (Distilled 4 times) Absolut Belvedere Chopin Finlandia Smirnoff - Sweden – Wheat – Poland – Rye -- Poland – Potato – Finland – Barley – US – Grain Vodka Manufacturing Process Different vodka manufacturers employ several variations to the vodka manufacturing operation, however the basic vodka manufacturing process is pretty simple: The grain (in the form of wheat for example) or vegetables are put inside a mash tub. The tub is very similar to a washing machine. While the tub rotates it breaks down the grains. Ground malt is added to the compound as it eases the conversion of the starches to sugar. Keeping the mash sterile It is critical to maintain a totally sterile mash. The prevention of bacteria growth is extremely important in the production of vodka and all other distilled spirits. The sterilization processes employs 3 stages : - The mash is heated until it reaches boiling point. - Lactic acid bacteria is mixed into the mash. The purpose of this, is to increase the acidity level needed for the vodka fermentation process. Once the chosen acidity levels are reached, the mash is once again sterilized. The vodka fermentation process The sterilized mash is then streamed into stainless steel tanks. At this point yeast is added and the tanks are sealed. The yeast contains enzymes that in the next four days will turn the sugars in the mash to ethyl alcohol. The distillation process The ethyl alcohol is injected to a column or pot still (most modern vodka producers use column stills). The stainless column still is comprised of vaporization chambers stacked on top of each other. The alcohol is continuously heated up with steam while it cycles up and down. This cycle continues until the vapors created from the heat are released and condensed. The alcohol vapors rise to the top vaporization chambers where they accumulate. The by products and extracted materials drain into the lower chambers where they can be discarded. Some vodka manufacturers sell the residues created by the vodka distillation process as fertilizer and as nutrition for livestock. Liquefying the alcohol gases At this point the vapors created by the distillation process also called, fine spirits, contain between 95%-100% alcohol. There is a need to liquefy the alcohol gases in order to make them drinkable. At this point water is added to dilute the alcohol concentration from 100% to 40%. The final stage of the production process, is bottling the vodka. Vodka is stored in glass bottles, as glass does not interact with the beverage. For example, storing vodka in plastic bottles would cause a chemical reaction that will eventually affect the taste of the beverage.
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