VODKA STYLES AND SCHNAPPS

Vodka, like gin is distilled from a base of grain and originally, no flavourings of any kind were added. The finest vodkas are filtered through charcoal to ensure absolute purity. This would be an accurate description of what the western world today calls vodka; history however, tells us a different story. The origins of vodka – the word means ‘little water’ – lie in the twelfth century Russia and Poland, where ‘vodka’ was the generic name for any spirit drink no matter what material it was distilled from. In Russia, the Czar banned the production of vodka at the beginning of World War I, but a flourishing black-market trade continued and to control this, a state monopoly was established in 1925. Emigrés who fled from the Russian Revolution began to distil unflavoured vodkas in their new homelands but vodka did not become a fashionable drink in the western world until the late 1940s. Early flavourings of vodka where simple and did not occur until the mid-1960s when the skins of citrus fruit or simple spices where added to induce the natural oils. Many upmarket bars would do this themselves and serve their own flavoured vodkas, produced as frozen shots to their clients. Although some companies where staring to commercialise a limited amount of flavours at this time, it was not until the late 1980, - early 1990s that the demand for unlimited flavours of vodka became popular.
Aquavit,  is a traditional flavoured spirit that is principally produced in Scandinavia, where it has been produced since the 15th century. Akvavit gets its distinctive flavour from spices and herbs, and the main spice should be caraway seed.








Smirnoff 

ALC/VOL = 40% Alcohol
Country of origin:
Russia.
Distilled from:
Charcoal-filtered grain.
Owned and distributed by:
British company Diageo.
History
Founded in Moscow by Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov (1831-1898), the son of illiterate Russian peasants. It is now distributed in 130 countries. It is produced in several countries including USA, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Styles: 
Smirnoff Black No 55, 86% proof Blue Label and Smirnoff Ice. 
Flavours: 
Lime, Black Cherry, Watermelon, Cranberry, Citrus, Vanilla, Raspberry, Pomograte, Green Apple and Orange.
Absolut 

ALC/VOL = 40% Alcohol
Country of origin:
Sweden.
Distilled from:
Grain.
Owned and distributed by:
French group Pernod Ricard.
History
Produced near Åhus, Skåne, in southern Sweden, it was bought for 5.63 billion Euros in 2008 from the Swedish State. Absolute is the third largest brand of alcoholic spirits in the world after Bacardi and Smirnoff, and is sold in 126 countries.
Styles: 
Blue Label. 
Flavours: 
Pepper, Citron, Mandarin, Raspberry, Pear, Wild Tea, Kurant and peach.
Stolichnaya 

ALC/VOL = 40% Alcohol
Country of origin:
Russia.
Distilled from:
Winter wheat.
Owned and distributed by:
SPI & William Grant & Son..
History
Presently the internationally distributed version of Stolichnaya is not a Russian vodka but is distilled and bottled in Latvia. In 2009, William Grant & Sons signed an agreement to distribute Stolichnaya in the USA, taking over from PepsiCo. The rights to distribute Stolichnaya branded vodka outside Russia but not covering the United States are owned by Soyuzplodimport, known internationally as SPI Group, controlled by Yuri Scheffler.
Styles: 
Gold, and Elit. 
Flavours: 
Chocolate Coconut, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Raspberry, Hot Chilli, Stili Sticki, Orange, Raspberry, Blueberry, Vanilla, Apple, Citrus, Peach, Strawberry, Cranberry, Pomegranit, Wild Cherry.
Finlandia 

ALC/VOL = 40% Alcohol
Country of origin:
Finland.
Distilled from:
Six-row barley.
Owned and distributed by:
Brown-Forman.
History
Finlandia Vodka is produced from Finnish-grown six-row barley and pure glacier water. Finlandia was launched in Scandinavia in 1970 and in the United States in 1971. The current bottle design “Glacial Ice” (2003) is a work of the Finnish designer Harri Koskinen and Kenneth Hirst of Hirst Pacific Ltd, New York. The design is meant to evoke melting ice.
Styles: 
Premium. 
Flavours: 
Cranberry, Lime, Mango, Red Berry, Wild Berries, Tangerine and Blackcurrant.
Żubrówka / Bison Grass 

ALC/VOL = 40% Alcohol
Country of origin:
Poland.
Distilled from:
Rye / Bison Grass.
History
Żubrówka, also known in English as Bison Grass Vodka, is an Eastern European variety of dry, herb-flavoured vodka that is distilled from rye. Its flavour is unique and is described as having woodruff, vanilla, coconut, and almond notes. The rye distillate is flavoured with a tincture of buffalo grass, which also gives the spirit its yellowish colour. This grass grows in the Białowieża Forest in Poland and elsewhere. A blade of buffalo grass is traditionally placed in each bottle of Żubrówka, though this is largely decorative. The name Żubrówka comes from żubr, the Polish and Belarusian (as well as Ukrainian and Russian) word for the wisent (European bison), which is particularly fond of eating bison grass. 
Aquavit 

ALC/VOL = 45% Alcohol
Country of origin:
Denmark.
Distilled from:
Grain or potatoes and flavoured with caraway seed.
History
The word aquavit (akvavit) is derived from Latin aqua vitae, "water of life" and like vodka, it is distilled from either grain or potatoes. After distillation, it is flavoured with herbs, spices, or fruit oil. Commonly seen flavours are caraway, cardamom, cumin, anise, fennel, and lemon or orange peel. Dill and "grains of paradise" are also used. The recipes and flavours differ between brands, but caraway is typically the dominant flavour. Aquavit usually has a yellowish hue, but this can vary from clear to light brown, depending on how long it has been aged in oak casks or the amount of colorant used. Normally, a darker colour suggests a higher age or the use of young casks, though artificial caramel colouring is permitted.