Nearly 11 billion dollars worth of vodka is sold worldwide every year. However, what the spirit offers in popularity, it lacks in flavor–literally. Vodka is theoretically a flavorless, colorless liquor. In Europe, the spirit must clock in with a minimum ABV of 37.5% whereas in the States, the base is 40% ABV.

Although vodka is associated with potatoes, any starch or sugar filled plant can provide a base. In fact, most modern vodkas are made from cereal grains such as rye, wheat, and corn (and sometimes beets). Economics and marketing have led to a wave of new bases such as grapes, rice, and soybeans.

This base undergoes a familiar process. First, a mash is formed. Then, the liquid is subject to filtration and sterilization, a very important process in modern vodkas. The mash is poured into giant stainless steel fermentation tanks and mixed with yeast and the mash’s sugars are converted into alcohol. After two to four days of this process, the product is pumped through column stills. The distiller cuts off the heads and tails (the waste) and then adds water to bring down the alcohol content.

Vodka is bottled immediately after this process/ It is not aged.

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