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About this Blog

Welcome to Po'Nutrition Fax! This blog is about alcohol - it has nothing to do with health or wellness, and the only relationship between this and Edgar Allen Poe is that he was an alcoholic.

I used to work in a liquor store and developed a taste for all different types of booze. As my collection grew, I felt the need to share my knowledge of, interest in, and experiences with my purchases - from the standards (e.g. whisk(e)y, gin) to the less-than-standard (e.g. kirschwasser, raki). You'll also find a lot on beer (another love of mine).

This is not about how much I can drink nor do I promote over-excess of alcohol. As with most blogs, there is some self-reflection included with most of the reviews. The point is to encourage everyone to reflect on what they drink.

Leave comments or ask questions! Also, "follow" me if you like what you read - I am not making money from this blog but if I see more interest in this and hear some feedback, it will encourage me to write more.

Cheers!
Mike

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thoughts on Vodka

I have one post about vodka.

In that post I say:

"I'm not a big vodka drinker. It's not because I have anything against vodka per se but I do not like what vodka has become to most people in this country. Vodka is not supposed to be the clean and flavorless spirit it is marketed as in the U.S.  It's not a blank palette on which one can throw any number of flavoring agents... [i]t can be distilled from anything that can ferment... [e]ach base product creates a different tasting vodka. Some are distilled many times, others are filtered but the idea that the true essence of that base product can be captured in a final distillate."

I still stand by most of this statement but I have to revisit one item, namely the "distilled many times" point.

According to the U.S Code of Federal Regulations, vodka is a neutral spirit distilled to 190 proof (95% ethanol) that is "treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color." You'll also notice that most items follow that "190 proof" guideline. Here, the alcohol distillers have won a battle to create their economies of scope - one grain neutral spirit is the base for all sorts of different spirits. So for all of you caught in the "moonshine" craze that is hitting this country, I'm sorry to inform you that it's just unfiltered vodka.

Anyway, here's the funny thing about that proof: subsequent distillations will not purify the ethanol much more (only to 191.2 proof - 95.6% ethanol). So whenever you see a label claiming a vodka has been distilled "x" number of times, it doesn't matter. It was distilled to the minimum 190 proof, and you can't get much purer than that.

Furthermore most vodkas are column distilled, which is a continuous process, so there is no such thing as "x" times distilled.

So is filtration the key to making vodkas so different from one another? Probably.

Charcoal filtering removes certain volatile organic compounds, leaving other molecules behind. Further "filtration" through precious metals adds new molecules to create different "mouth-feels."

Further thinking: when people complain about hangovers on "cheap" vodka, they are probably more likely to mix "cheap" vodka with sugary sweet mixers and drink to excess. These things are more likely the causes of your hangover rather than the quality of the vodka.

Also, vodka is naturally gluten-free even if it's distilled from grains like wheat or barley. Gluten is a protein, which is too "heavy" to be distilled. Unless you drink a sweetened/flavored vodka, there is no gluten.

So when you buy vodka, stay away from flavored vodka and find ones filtered an acceptable number of times (for your own sake) if you're looking for a "clean" vodka.

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