Let’s first quickly establish what vodka is. It’s a multiply distilled spirit. The goal is to be flavorless and “smooth,” meaning no harsh overtones, or smelling like the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet.
Vodka distillation begins like any other distillation and whereby some carbohydrate is fermented into alcohol and a wort is formed. Distillation essentially removes any remaining flavors associated with the wort. Incidentally, at this stage, the wort could be turned into beer, though depending what the carbohydrate source was, it may be a funky flavored beer! By definition, as a distilled spirit, vodka is gluten free and we’ve established that there are no carbohydrate calories in vodka.
Vodka is at least double distilled to remove any impurities and nasty flavors, and may be filtered through charcoal to remove any remaining impurities. It should be noted that neither the number of distillations, nor descriptive filtration processes are good indicators of taste, or lack thereof. Blind taste tests of vodka are a comedy of disagreement. It’s this author’s opinion that Tito’s and Stoli are neutral tasting and reside in the happy medium of cost and prestige for whatever it’s worth. If you’re on a budget, well, consult this video:
To summarize the grades:
- Pinnacle: B
- Popov: A-
- UV Vodka: D
- Smirnoff: C+
- Svedka: B+
|Smirnoff||corn (though unspecified)||multiple|
A Note About Flavored Vodkas
Not all flavored vodkas are the same when it comes to carbs. Some, such as Pinnacle do add in sugar, whereas Absolut does not, and is akin to flavored seltzer water. Perhaps another post to delve into more detail on this one.