How To Distill Vodka

How To Distill Vodka

Ever wondered how your favorite clear alcohol, vodka, is made? As vodka enthusiasts ourselves, we've got you covered. In this article, we dive deep into the process of vodka distillation. Not only will you walk away with a better understanding of vodka's creation, but you might even be inspired to try distilling vodka yourself!

Best Budget Vodkas Ranked

smirnoff vodka doctors


A global vodka giant with Russian origins, Smirnoff delivers consistent quality and versatility for any mixer.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Crisp, mild sweetness with a clean finish

Best Cocktail Pairing: Classic Cosmopolitan

Best Food Paring: Grilled chicken skewers

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

absolut vodka doctors


Swedish purity in a bottle, Absolut is distilled from winter wheat, giving a smooth and rich experience.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Smooth with light grain and citrus hints

Best Cocktail Pairing: Absolut Elyx Martini

Best Food Paring: Smoked salmon canapés

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

ketel one vodka doctors

Ketel One

A Dutch treat, Ketel One is the result of over 300 years of distilling expertise; a refined choice.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Fresh with subtle citrus and honey notes

Best Cocktail Pairing: Dutch Mule

Best Food Paring: Aged cheeses or Dutch herring

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

What is Vodka Distillation?

Vodka distillation is the transformative process of converting raw materials like wheat, corn, potatoes or other organic substances into the clear and flavorless spirit we all know and love. Distillation utilizes heat and cooling to separate ethanol (alcohol) from water, impurities, and other substances, leaving us with a high-quality concentrated alcohol.

The Vodka Distillation Process: Step by Step

Distilling vodka might sound complicated, but with a little patience and practice, anyone can make delicious homemade vodka. To get started, follow these steps:

1. Choose Your Base Ingredient

As mentioned earlier, vodka can be made from a wide variety of base ingredients. Selection will depend on personal preference, local availability, and budget. Common base ingredients include:

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Rye
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar beet
  • Grapes

Each base imparts subtle differences to the final flavor of your vodka, so feel free to experiment to find the one you like best.

2. Produce Your Fermentable Mash

Creating a fermentable mash involves breaking down the starches in your chosen base ingredient using enzymes (or added yeast) to produce simple sugars that can later be fermented by yeast. This process varies depending on the base ingredient, but typically involves:

  1. Grinding/crushing the base ingredient to expose all starchy parts
  2. Adding water to form a slurry mixture
  3. Cooking or boiling the mixture to break down complex starches
  4. Adding enzymes or yeast to further break down the starches into simple sugars
  5. Allowing the mixture to cool to room temperature before adding yeast for fermentation

3. Fermentation

The fermentation stage involves the conversion of simple sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide through the action of yeast. For best results, use a high-quality vodka-fermenting yeast and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Typically, fermentation takes around 7-10 days, depending on the temperature and quantity of sugar present.

4. Distillation

This is the critical step where the magic happens! The aim is to separate the ethanol from the water and impurities using a distillation apparatus called a still. There are different types of stills available, such as pot stills, column stills, and reflux stills, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Regardless of your chosen still, the basic process remains the same:

  1. Heat the fermented liquid to a controlled temperature (ethanol has a boiling point of 78.3°C/172.94°F)
  2. Allow the alcohol vapors to rise up the still's column
  3. Cool the vapors in a condenser, turning them back into liquid form (the "distillate")
  4. Collect the distillate in a separate container, making sure to discard the first and last portions (the "heads" and "tails") to avoid harmful impurities and bad-tasting compounds

Most commercial vodka is distilled multiple times to achieve a high level of purity and smoothness.

5. Dilution

Lastly, dilute your high-proof vodka distillate with purified water to achieve the desired strength (generally around 40% ABV or 80 proof). Using soft or filtered water can improve the final taste and mouthfeel of your homemade vodka.

How To Distill Vodka Example:

Mash ProductionGrind wheat, add water, and cook to produce a fermentable slurry.
FermentationAdd yeast and let the mixture ferment for 7-10 days.
DistillationHeat fermented liquid in a column still, condense alcohol vapor, and collect distillate.
DilutionDilute vodka distillate with purified water to 40% ABV.

Congratulations! You now have a solid understanding of how vodka is distilled. While the process may seem complex, with some practice, you can create your own vodka right at home. As you explore the world of distillation, be sure to check out other articles on Vodka Doctors for more information on vodka brands, cocktails, pairings, and much more. Don't forget to share our informative content with your fellow vodka enthusiasts. Cheers!


About Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

Related Posts