Blue martini with orange slice splashing on top
The Unique Way Liquor Becomes Vodka
By Heidi Chaya
While vodka's creation is less surrounded by regulations and lore than whiskey, there are still rules that must be obeyed for a distilled liquor to be called vodka. Vodka is a colorless, transparent distilled liquor without a specific taste or smell, containing about 40% to 55% alcohol, and it can be fermented from inexpensive and plentiful ingredients like wheat and corn.
Traditional vodka needs just two components: water and the natural ethanol produced when grains or other bases are fermented using water and yeast. For liquor to bear the name "vodka," it must first reach 190 proof before being diluted to 70 to 80 proof for commercial sale (American standards demand an 80-proof minimum, or 40% alcohol).
After a week of fermentation, the distillers remove the solids and wind up with "pure, liquid alcohol," per MasterClass, which is then distilled to remove impurities. After that, the liquor must be diluted from nearly 100% alcohol down to whatever ABV the vodka makers need.