Once upon a time you knew where you were.
Vodka came from Russia or Poland. But then, some really good vodkas came out of Scandinavia. And Grey Goose began making vodka right in the heart of Cognac. Pretty soon everyone was making vodka, but even so there are still a few surprises, countries which you don’t necessarily associate with vodka. Here are some of them, helping make up a veritable international vodka consortium.
Akvinta Vodka – It’s organic, it’s kosher… and it comes from Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. Akvinta uses Croatian spring water and wheat from its neighbor, Italy. It’s filtered five times, through birch charcoal, marble, silver, gold, and finally platinum. It’s picked up a few Gold Medals along the way too.
Gorbatschow Vodka – Germany’s more noted for its beers and its wines, but it has also produced Wodka Gorbatschow since 1921. The Russian-sounding name is no gimmick. The original Leontowisch Gorbatschow made vodka in St Petersburg but left Russia for Berlin to escape the 1917 Revolution. The company uses a special cold filtration process to produce the best-selling vodka in Germany, with its red label vodka a hefty 60% ABV.
India may be more famous, or infamous, for producing fake versions of expensive brands of Scotch, but the country also makes its own liquors, including vodka. White Mischief is the country’s biggest-selling vodka brand, with almost half the market, while Romanov and Magic Moments are two other popular Indian vodka brands.
Huzzar Vodka – More known as the home of Guinness and whiskey, these days Ireland is also producing some fine craft gins and vodkas. Huzzar has been produced in Ireland since 1967, while Boru is a more recent brand, named after the Irish King, Brian Boru.
AVIV Vodka – This kosher vodka uses water from the Sea of Galilee, and the vibrant, three-sided bottle is made using Israeli sand. The distillery is based in Haifa, and has been in business since 1825. Their vodka uses wheat and barley, as well as the Mediterranean flavors of pomegranate, olives, figs, dates and grapes.
Roberto Cavalli Vodka – Made by the Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, this is the only vodka produced entirely in Italy, a country more noted for wine, grappa, and limoncello. Cavalli recently added orange and rosemary flavors to their vodka range, which comes stylishly designed in clear glass bottles wrapped in gold, with even a 6-litre bottle available.
Villa Lobos Vodka – Tequila? Check. Mezcal? Check. But Mexican vodka? It sounds like something cheap to sell to tourists, but Villa Lobos is distilled five times from corn, wheat and barley, using snowmelt from an active volcano and packs a 45% ABV punch. And only one of the vodka range produced by the Licores Veracruz Distillery has a worm in it.
Broken Shed Vodka – Launched in 2010, this vodka began life in, yes, a broken shed by Lake Wanaka, surrounded by New Zealand’s Southern Alps. It uses whey, a by-product of cheese-making, which is distilled four times and blended with a mix of waters from New Zealand’s South and North Islands with no additives and no GM products.
Bolskaya Vodka – If you want to try Bolskaya Vodka then you’ll have to travel to Pakistan as the country’s laws prohibit the export of liquor. Made by the Murree Brewery, which has been brewing beer since 1860, this vodka is a more recent addition to their range, along with a gin and a whisky.
Valt Vodka – Valt is a single malt Scottish… Vodka. It’s made by Strathleven Distillers in the town of Paisley, west of Glasgow, which is also the home of Chivas Brothers and where William Grant used to be based. Strathleven produces a gin, Gilt, as well as this small batch vodka – but no whisky.
Han Vodka – Han Vodka is the sole Asian vodka currently available in the USA, though only in California. It’s made from a mix of barley and rice, distilled four times, and then filtered through the company’s own micro-quartz freeze filtration process.