Spirited Water: Vodka and Distillation

Russian vodka can be traced all the way back to the 1440’s. The Russians invented a grain based beverage using vodka that they called bread wine. Bread wine was produced through a pot distillation process. This became Russia’s first true alcoholic vodka. However, Poland has a different claim to these traces. Poland has claimed it’s origination of vodka in 1405. Their claim predates Russia’s claim by forty years, thus creating a debate of origination. The distillation process however remains mainly the same. Distillation refers to increasing the potency of an alcoholic beverage by allowing the alcohol to evaporate and then re-condense.

During ancient times, distilling was a more unrefined process. The freeze distillation method otherwise known as the Mongolian still relied strictly on the freezing points of alcohol and water. This method was before the era with thermometers and germ theory so it was common to produce poisonous beverages.

The practice of distillation has originated in many places around the world with different techniques. While practiced in modernity it can be traced to Arabic’s in the tenth century. There resulting product ultimately became known as “spirited water” a medicine of that era. This spirited water distilled by Arabic scientist appears in the name Texas vodka which is derived from the Russian word voda, or we know it as water.

It’s very interesting to learn about the origins of alcohol if you are or even if you aren’t a drinker. Maybe the next time you’re at the bar the bartender will ask you if you want well or top shelf. Or maybe if you want Russian, Swedish, Polish, or American Vodka you’ll have a story to tell them. You now know they all payed their debt to the distillation of vodka concoctions that are used on a daily basis around the world.