Vodka is made from the distillation of many different fermented substances.Grain, potatoes, fruits, and even sugar can and are made into Vodka. The end result is a beverage composed of water and alcohol with only traces of impurities to give it flavor.

The word “Vodka” was first used in Poland in the early 1400s, it referred to medicines and cosmetic chemicals. The first Russian usage of Vodka as we would know it today was in 1751 in a decree by Empress Elizabeth to regulate distilleries. It is generally believed that the word was a derivation of the Slavic word “voda” meaning water, distilled spirits were often referred to as “Aqua Vitae” or Water of Life during this time.

Vodka was most likely first made in Russia in the late 800s, and was also being made in Poland as early as the 11th Century. Somewhere around 1430 a monk called Isidore wrote down the first recipe in for Russian Vodka in Moscow. He had studied a lot of different distilling techniques and named this new type of high quality spirit “Bread Wine”.  Until the middle of the 1700s this spirit remained relatively unchanged as a lower alcohol (40% abv) spirit and became a large part of the Russian culture.

In Poland in the early part of the 16th Century Vodka was mixed with herbs and was a popular medicinal drink. Recipes varied at this point, but Rye was a popular choice, as were other cheap grains.

The Russian government heavily promoted the consumption of state made Vodka and the taxes provided significant revenue. In 1863 the government relinquished its monopoly on the manufacture of Vodka and prices fell drastically. By the start of World War I (1914) 90% of all alcohol consumed in Russia was Vodka. Even today this percentage is still at nearly 75%.

Vodka is popular all over the world in part because it’s neutral flavor makes it very easy to mix into juices and other mixers, and also because it has less impurities it is not as likely to give you a horrible hangover.

Vodka Production

Vodka can be distilled from a base made from any starch or sugar heavy plant material. Most of the Vodka produced today is made from grains: Wheat, Rye, and Corn are the most popular. Some Vodka is made from potatoes, and a recent trend has seen Vodkas made from Sugar Beets, Rice, or Grapes. The Vodka producing countries of the “Vodka-Belt” (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden etc) insist that only spirits made from grains, potatoes, or sugar beets can be labeled as Vodka. Vodka itself is generally defined as an un-aged, odorless, colorless, and flavorless spirit distilled to 190°. Almost all modern Vodkas are made using a column still and a common practice in the US and Europe is extensive filtering through activated charcoal and other substances to absorb any off-flavors in the Vodka. This produces a highly rectified spirit with very little flavor and no color. Top artisanal producers will use more traditional methods and prefer to rely on very accurate distillation techniques rather than filtering, this preserves more of the unique flavor and character of these spirits. The final distillation will produce a spirit that is almost 96% or 97% alcohol, therefore most Vodka is diluted with water prior to bottling to bring the alcohol level down to 40%, although higher proof Vodkas are also sold. This very high level of distillation is what separates Vodka from other spirits and gives Vodka its very pure flavor.

Flavored Vodka

Vodkas are made as either a pure clear product, or they can also be flavored. Traditionally Vodka has been flavored in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Herbs, roots, and flowers are popular agents used to impart flavors and aromas into Nordic Vodkas. On the Russian side of the Baltic Sea fruit flavors such as cherry and currants are the preferred flavors. Flavored Vodkas have also become very popular in the US for mixing in various cocktails. Pepper and Bacon flavored Vodkas have spear-headed a movement of a more savory nature in the US.

Vodka Producers

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Producer PictureAbout the Producer
Bluewater Organic Distilling
Bluewater is proud to present ultra premium spirits that redefine and reinvigorate the market. Their mission is to bring independent and responsible spirits to inspired cocktail enthusiasts. Exclusively hand-crafted in small batches using artisan methods and natural ingredients, their spirits are born independent.

John Lundin opened his organic distillery in September of this year (2012) in a 2,500-square-foot space in the Port of Everett Marina. John originally worked in engineering, construction and project management throughout the Pacific Northwest, but moved to Colorado in 2006 to begin tinkering with distilling wheat vodka. He distilled Bluewater’s first batch of vodka there before moving back to Seattle. The new distillery in Everett is his pride and joy:

“We’re a sail-in distillery,” he says, smiling.

Specialty copper stills, hand-hammered in Portugal form the back-bone of the operation, and his use of 100% organic wheat create a beverage better suited to complement food, not so much as the kick in mixed cocktails.

The Bluewater name represents Lundin’s connection to the water as a lifelong sailor, Lundin started boating as a child with his parents, who were avid sailors. He and his wife Jessica lived aboard their 1992 Hunter 375 for more than four years at Shilshole Bay Marina before he started the distillery.
To Lundin, distilling closely parallels his love of sailing; both take learning, dedication and skill to master.

Bluewater Distilling was founded upon a strong environmental conviction, and his wife, Jessica, is finishing a post-doctorate degree in Earth-Sciences. The end result: Lundin has joined the One Percent for the Planet. This organization includes almost 1500 business throughout the world that have pledged one percent of their sales receipts to help environmental organizations.
As well as being supportive of the environment, John is supportive of the local community, his vodka is bottled in U.S.-made glass; a major source of pride for john.

Bluewater’s unusually smooth vodka, with a pleasant tinge of sweetness, is meant for sipping, straight up.

“We’ve put a lot into this to make the product the best it can be,” he says. “I want to make exquisite-tasting spirits and also have a responsible foundation for the distillery.”

The Bluewater Distillery is located at 1205 Craftsman Way, Suite 116, Everett. It is open noon to 6pm most days.

For distillery and product information, please see:
Sun LiquorSun Liquor Lounge opened in Capitol Hill in May of 2006. Located on Summit Avenue it has served as an intimate neighborhood scratch cocktail lounge. The drinks here are made using fresh squeezed juices and in-house made syrups and bitters.

Sun Liquor Distillery opened in March 2011 at 514 E Pike Street in Seattle.
Head distiller Erik Chapman and Founder Michael Klebeck worked tirelessly for several years to figure out how to make this dream a reality.

In the Fall of 2011 they debuted their flagship Hedge Trimmer gin; this was
followed by their award winning UNXLD vodka and robust Naval Strength Gun Club gin.

This vodka is distilled slowly four times using organic wheat and then rested until bottled. This award winning vodka is clean and smooth.

For distillery and product information, please see:
Sound Distillery
Ebb + Flow
Ready for a little local flavor?
Ebb + Flow Vodka and Gin — the first craft spirits to be distilled in Seattle since Prohibition. The vodka and gin is made one slow batch at a time, with hometown pride.

Ebb + Flow Vodka is a single malt vodka made from 100% Washington Palouse Malted Barley that has notes of vanilla and just a hint of natural sweetness.

The first distillery in Seattle since the prohibition, Sound Spirits currently makes and gin and vodka from its 15th street Interbay location. It is run by friendly Boeing engineer Steven Stone in his off hours. After putting in a full day at Boeing, where he works as an aerospace engineer, Stone spends his evenings turning Washington state barley into vodka.
Stone has had a long interest in home brewing beer, but the idea to produce spirits came about two years ago from his friendship with Christian Krogstad, one of the owners of House Spirits, a leader in Portland’s booming craft distillery scene. Krogstad was finding success producing things like Aviation Gin. He wrote a business plan, found seven investors and went to work.
With help from his wife and one volunteer, Stone began working to produce barley-based vodka. Most vodka is made from wheat and potatoes, but Stone was aiming for something different. He wanted to use all local ingredients and barley, along with wheat, is one of the primary grain crops grown in Washington. Barley has a distinctive taste, Stone says, “a touch sweet,” and he’d be using the grain in the future to make whiskey.
The end result is Ebb + Flow.
Pür•geist Pur Geist

Each variety of pür•spirits is produced according to traditional principles by a 3rd generation artisan distiller in a remote village in southern Germany. The time-honored recipes have been passed down and refined over decades, if not centuries.
The first three varieties of pür•spirits offered in the US – pür•likör blossom, pür•likör Williams, and pür•geist framboise each won a medal at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

pür•geist framboise is natural and hand-crafted in the spirit of an ancient distilling tradition. Unlike many other "flavored" vodkas,pür•geist framboise contains no juices, syrups, sugar additives, artificial flavoring materials, nor anything of the sort. It acquires its essence simply from fresh, wild forest-grown raspberries.
From this hand-picked fruit, pür•geist framboise is produced according to a time-honored recipe. The result subtly embodies the tart and sweet, but earthy, aroma of the highly fragrant forest raspberries. What you experience is a finely-nuanced aroma and flavor.
pür•geist framboise captures the spirit of raspberries like no other beverage.

pür•geist sloe is natural and hand-crafted in the spirit of an ancient distilling tradition. Unlike many other "flavored" vodkas,pür•geist sloe contains no juices, syrups, sugar additives, artificial flavoring materials, nor anything of the sort. It acquires its essence simply from fresh, wild sloe berries.
From this hand-picked fruit, pür•geist sloe is produced according to a time-honored recipe that results in a complex and noble flavor.
pür•geist sloe captures the spirit of sloe berries like no other beverage.

pür•geist bierbrand is a distillation of craft-brewed German Märzen beer that is aged in a chestnut cask. The result is a rare and unique spirit that is somewhat akin to Scotch, but, nevertheless, rightly occupies a category all its own.
The secret to distilling pür•geist bierbrand lies in the fine beer, brewed according to the German Reinheitsgebot, and generations of experience!
Exceptional quality is guaranteed by excluding anything but 4 ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast, and alpine spring water. In contrast to commercially mass produced liquors, pür•geist bierbrand is small batch distilled in traditional copper pot stills to extract all the beer’s nuances. New barrels impart a luminous golden color and add chestnut notes to the bierbrand’s fine maltiness.

pür•likör spice is a blood orange liqueur. Aromatic blood oranges, hints of apricots spiced with cinnamon and cloves – perfect for chasing away any winter chills.
The creation of superior liqueurs is a form of art. Handcrafted in our artisanal distillery, the intensely flavorful pür•likör spice, blood orange liqueur, balances the sweetness of the blood orange with the spice of cinnamon and cloves. It is a pleasure to sip and serves as a distinctive accent in cocktails where its intensity stands up well to other spirits and flavors.

pür•likör blossom is an elderflower liqueur embodies centuries of refinement and is crafted in accord with ancient practices in harmony with nature. Satin white elderflowers grow wild in forest clearings in the sunny climate around Lake Constance. Each spring, the distinctly floral scented star-shaped blossoms are hand-picked especially for our liqueur. They are then blended according to a tried and true formula that makes for a natural golden-copper tone, a velvety smooth aroma, and a sophisticated flavor.
pür•likör blossom, elderflower liqueur—made this way for hundreds of years—for a reason.

pür•likör williams is handmade according to traditional principles – from selecting the fruit to filling the bottles. Our pears are harvested at a precise moment in their maturity and individually wrapped and stored to ripen and develop an optimal aroma. During their short period of peak ripeness, the pears are crushed and distilled in small batches – approximately thirty five pounds of pear goes into producing just 0.75 liters of distillate. The highly concentrated and aromatic result is what Germans call Birnenbrand. It captures the essence of the capricious Williams pear and is the defining ingredient of pür•likör williams, pear liqueur.
pür•likör williams, pear liqueur captivates with its seductive elegance and smooth finish. It will stir and feed your senses.