Ask the Expert: What Is Vodka Made From?

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Ask the Expert: What Is Vodka Made From?

In our Ask the Expert series, Paste readers chime in with some of their most pressing booze concerns, and we do our best to help you make sense of it all. Want your own question answered? Send a Tweet using #AskTheExpert.

Vodka: drinkers consume over a billion gallons of the stuff every year, but most people don’t know what it’s made from.

Unlike many other spirits that are always made from the same ingredients, what vodka is made from can range dramatically from brand to brand.

To make vodka, you just need something that contains sugar or starch. To make vodka, you ferment that thing and then distill the result. Most vodka brands today use fermented grains, such as rice, wheat, rye, or sorghum. However, vodka can also be made using corn, fruits like grapes or potatoes. If you were feeling super ambitious, you could even make vodka using just sugar as a base.

Whatever the brand chooses, once it’s fermented it’s then distilled. That process involves heating the fermented product up in a still, where evaporated alcohol is collected, separating it from the water and transforming it into vodka.

After that, the brand will re-add water to bring it to a specific ABV. In most cases, vodka is 30-40 percent alcohol.