Vodka, often hailed as the “water of life,” has a rich and diverse history dating back centuries. As one of the most popular and versatile spirits globally, it’s no surprise that there are various types of vodka to explore.

From grain to grape, and everything in between, the diverse types of vodka cater to different palates and preferences. In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve into the distinct characteristics of grain based vodka, potato based vodka, grape based vodka, fruit based vodka, and sugar based vodka. Each variant brings its unique flavor profile and production process to the table, making the world of vodka an intriguing and diverse realm.

Grain Based Vodka

So, when it comes to this type of vodka, it’s all about the grains – like wheat, rye, barley, or corn. And guess what? The choice of grain actually makes a difference in how the vodka tastes and feels in your mouth.

Wheat vodka? It’s the smooth operator, light and easygoing. With fewer congeners (fancy term for impurities) and not much natural sugar, wheat vodka ends up with a mild flavor that’s totally chill.

Congeners are natural byproducts of fermentation and can contribute to the taste and aroma of a spirit.

Rye on the other hand has a slightly spicy and robust flavor profile. It is rich in a compound called sec-Butyl acetate, which gives fruity and banana vibes. It also contains ethyl hexanoate, which imparts fruity and anise aromas. All these goodies make rye vodka a bit more complex and robust.

Rye also tends to have a higher level of congeners compared to some other grains. The increased congeners in this type of vodka adds to a more complex and robust flavor profile.

Last we have corn. Corn will bring more of a subtle sweetness than the types of grain vodka. Corn is naturally rich in sugar. During the fermentation process, yeast turns some of these sugars into alcohol, but not all of it. That’s why you get a residual sweetness with this type of vodka. Two other factors that sweeten this deal? That would be the complex carbohydrates and the specific variety of corn used to make the vodka.

But here’s the bottom line – whether it’s wheat, rye, or corn, these vodkas all keep it clean and neutral. Perfect canvas for mixologists and cocktail lovers to work their magic!

Wheat & Rye Vodka Brands

Belvedere, made of rye
Chopin, rye and wheat options
Finlandia, made from golden Finish barley
Absolut, made from winter wheat
Grey Goose, made from winter wheat
Stoli, made from wheat and rye
Ketel One, made from wheat
Svedka, made from winter wheat
Gallant, made from winter wheat
SKYY, made from wheat

Corn Vodka Brands

New Amsterdam

Potato Based Vodka

Potato vodkas are often associated with luxury brands. What distinguishes potato-based vodka from its grain-based counterparts? The answer lies in the unique characteristics imparted by the potatoes themselves. Potatoes bring a velvety mouthfeel and a subtle earthy undertone to the spirit, creating a distinct flavor profile.

This type of vodka is crafted from starchy potatoes, such as Russet or Yukon Gold. The process of transforming humble potatoes into a refined and sophisticated spirit starts by carefully selecting high quality potatoes. The potatoes undergo a rigorous process of cleaning, peeling, and mashing before being transformed into vodka. The smooth and creamy texture of the resulting potato vodka offers a delightful sensory experience that captivates the palate.

Potato Vodka Brands


Grape Based Vodka

Grape vodkas are a relative newcomer to the vodka scene and are gaining popularity for it’s elegant and refined qualities. This type of vodka is typically crafted from the leftover grape pieces {skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of grapes) after the winemaking process. The mash is then further fermented and to create the alcohol base for the vodka. Talk about sustainable!

Let’s talk grape varieties! Both white and red grapes are used to make vodka.

Some white grapes used to make vodka include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Types of vodka made from white grapes have a lighter and crisper taste, with flavors of citrus, green apple, and floral undertones. Opting for white grapes usually gives the vodka a smoother and gentler vibe.

Vodka made from red grapes have a totally different flavor profile! Types of red grapes used include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. These delicious gems will taste more like berries, plums, and sometimes even subtle earthy undertones.

Whether you’re into the zingy vibes of white grape vodka or the rich depths of the red grape version, both are a classy and tasty switch up from the usual grain vodka.

Grape Vodka Brands

  • Ciroc Vodka, made from mauzac blanc and ugni blan French grapes
  • Guillotine Vodka, made from French pinot and chardonnay grapes
  • Veuve Capet, made from chardonnay grapes

Sugar Based Vodka

Vodkas made from honey or other sugar products offer a delightful departure from the traditional grain or potato spirits. These sweet variations infuse the world of vodka with a rich complexity of flavors, adding a touch of sweetness that sets them apart.

One of the most popular sugar-based vodkas is honey vodka. Crafted by infusing or distilling honey with vodka.

Vodkas made from sugar cane offer a tropical twist to the traditional spirit. The natural sweetness of sugar cane imparts a mild and pleasant flavor to the vodka, reminiscent of the Caribbean. This variation is often associated with a smoother and silkier texture, making it a versatile option for sipping or mixing.

Sugar Vodka Brands

  • Felene Vodka, made from sugar cane
  • BET Vodka, made from sugar beets
  • Bar Hill Vodka, made from raw honey
  • Comb Vodka, made from orange blossom honey
  • Ocean Organic Vodka, made from sugar cane

Flavored Vodkas

Flavored vodka is basically regular vodka that’s jazzed up with extra flavors like fruit, herbs, spices, or botanicals. These vodkas come in a wide array of flavors and can be used in various cocktails.

Herb Infused Vodka: This type of vodka brings a burst of fresh, aromatic goodness to your drink. They are also a fantastic way to amp up the flavor in your cocktails without relying on sugary mixers. Popular herbs include basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender and lemongrass.

One thing is for sure, no matter which you choose, these herbal infusions elevate your vodka experience.

Pepper Vodka: Looking for a bit of a kick? Will look no further than pepper vodka! Pepper vodka is infused with hot peppers or spices, giving it a spicy kick. It’s a popular choice for creating fiery cocktails like Bloody Marys.

Fruit Infused Vodka: I know what you are thinking. Fruit based vodka, didn’t we just cover that with the grapes? Kinda, but vodka infused from fruits like blueberries, mango, lemons, strawberries and other fruits have a completely different vibe. This type of vodka offers a burst of fruity flavors and a distinctive twist on the classic neutral vodka.

Vodka Brands That Make Flavored Vodka

  • Absolute Vodka, 12 flavors including Absolut Mandrin, Absolut Peppar, Absolut Mango, Absolut Citron
  • Ketel One Vodka, 5 flavors including citoen, orange and its botanical line of grapefruit & rose, cucumber & mint and peach & orange blossom
  • Stoli Vodka, 8 flavors including vanilla, raspberry, blueberry, cucumber and salted caramel
  • Smirnoff Vodka, 7 flavors including peppermint twist, blue raspberry and pink lemonade

Organic Vodka

Organic vodka has emerged as a popular choice among consumers seeking spirits that align with their commitment to the environment.

This type of vodka is made from organic ingredients – think grains like wheat, rye, or corn – but, these grains are grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or any genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Plus, they skip the synthetic stuff like additives, artificial flavors, or colors in the mix.

Distillers of organic vodka are into sustainable practices, like saving water, managing land responsibly, and doing their best to keep the carbon footprint to a minimum during production.

To be labeled as “organic,” vodka must adhere to specific standards. Different countries have their own organic certification bodies, such as the USDA Organic in the United States or the European Union Organic Certification. These certifications ensure that the vodka meets strict criteria for organic farming and production practices.

Organic Vodka Brands

  • Prairie Organic Vodka
  • Square One Organic Vodka
  • Barr Hill Vodka

Craft or Artisanal Vodka

Craft vodka, often hailed as the artisanal counterpart to mass produced spirits, is a testament to the dedication, creativity, and craftsmanship of distillers.

The term “craft” in the context of vodka refers to a hands on, small batch approach. Crafters of this type of vodka emphasize quality and unique flavors.

They often use local ingredients and artisanal distillation methods like small copper stills. Popular craft vodka’s include:

  • Tito’s, made from yellow corn and based in Texas
  • Vestal, made from potatoes and based in Poland
  • Kástra Elión, made from greek olives and based in Greece
  • Altar, made from malted barley and based in Santa Fe
  • Barr Hill, made from honey and based in Vermont
  • Castle Key, made from  73% corn, 10% rye, and 17% malted barley and based in Kentucky

Final Thoughts

In the vast landscape of vodka, the variety of base ingredients adds depth and complexity to this beloved spirit. From the grainy neutrality of wheat vodka to the earthy elegance of potato vodka, and the refined notes of grape-based vodka to the burst of natural flavors in fruit-based vodka, each type offers a unique drinking experience.

Sugar vodkas, with their sweet and light profile, add a delightful twist to the mix. As you navigate the diverse world of vodka, consider the base ingredient as your compass, guiding you to a spirit that perfectly suits your taste preferences. Cheers to the artistry of vodka-making and the endless possibilities it brings to the world of mixology!