The taste of vodka

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The taste of vodka

Postby zenten » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:41 pm UTC

What's it with everyone saying that vodka has no taste? It has a very distinctive sharp and bitter flavour. I mean, it's not as strong tasting as gin or whiskey, but it's there.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Azrael » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:31 am UTC

I suppose that's what really clean water and ethanol mixed together taste like? I mean, I agree, mostly. If pure water is tasteless, then vodka is not.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby hermaj » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:47 am UTC

Yeah, and different brands of vodka taste different. It's not that they burn your throat differently or anything, there's a definite taste difference. My friends assure me vodka has no taste and I assure them I drink enough vodka to know otherwise. :P

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby cypherspace » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:55 am UTC

I don't think good vodka, properly chilled, has any taste, unless you're buying specifically flavoured vodkas. If you can taste something you're either not chilling it properly, not buying good vodka, or you're mistaking a sensation for a taste.

There is a difference between brands, but I just think that's quality differences. If I buy the classic Smirnoff and put it in the freezer, taking a shot tastes of nothing besides the burning sensation. If I buy cheap Tesco vodka, it always tastes of something.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby zenten » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:35 am UTC

cypherspace wrote:There is a difference between brands, but I just think that's quality differences. If I buy the classic Smirnoff and put it in the freezer, taking a shot tastes of nothing besides the burning sensation. If I buy cheap Tesco vodka, it always tastes of something.


Smirnoff and Absolut definitely have tastes. I can't tell the difference between the two (I don't drink enough vodka to know the difference), but it's there.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mr. Mack » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:14 pm UTC

Isn't vodka's popularity largely due to its use in mixed drinks? That could be the reason people think it's flavorless. Things like whiskey and spiced rum both undergo some process that's meant to give them more flavor, whereas vodka has no such process. So if you were to take those three and mix them all with something (like ginger ale), the one mixed with vodka would taste the most like ginger ale when compared to the spiced rum and whiskey versions. For a casual drinker, that would mean that vodka is flavorless.
hermaj wrote:Yeah, and different brands of vodka taste different. It's not that they burn your throat differently or anything, there's a definite taste difference. My friends assure me vodka has no taste and I assure them I drink enough vodka to know otherwise. :P

Maybe discerning flavor is dependent on a person's experience with vodka? The only vodka I ever drank unmixed was the cheapest thing I could find, and I thought it was flavorless. But my preference is for whiskey or spiced rum, so maybe I'm just not attuned to the more subtle flavor differences.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Blubb3r3ng3l » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

I think the point is that adding vodka to something you want to be alcohol is supposed to be the liquor that retains most the previous taste. What you are tasting is the alcohol itself, not spices and stuff that were added. Alcohol will always have that bite, but vodka, by design, is supposed to be masked most by the mix it is put into.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby JayDee » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:47 am UTC

I just thought it was that Vodka has the least taste of all the Alcoholic beverages. Which is one of the reasons why it is used in so many mixed drinks these days - Orange Juice and Vodka tastes pretty much just Orange Juice, etc.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby hermaj » Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:12 am UTC

You see, I can taste the vodka in the orange juice pretty clearly, it's quite bitter. I find putting vodka in anything affects the taste, even strong flavours like cranberry juice or Coke. (Ewww, vodka and Coke. :() I definitely will back up what zenten said that Smirnoff and Absolut have tastes, this is definitely true. Absolut is a little bit more bitter than Smirnoff in my experience. Honestly speaking, though, if you gave me two shots neat I'd depend more on the smoothness to discern the difference - for actual taste, I'm a lot better off seeing how the different vodkas affect my mixer. I like them both, though I find Smirnoff goes better with orange juice than Absolut does; Absolut tastes nicer with lemonade and lime because the mixture of sweet and tart mixes well with the bitterness. For what it's worth to anyone who does want to attempt to taste the difference with neat shots, make sure the vodka is cold out of the freezer.

Mr. Mack! You make an excellent and probably very true point that it could be based on other alcohol experiences. I don't drink any amber spirits at all because they all make me sick, so my experience is limited mostly to liqueurs, gin, white rum and vodka, the latter of which I prefer. The friends of mine that claim they can't taste anything are rum and bourbon drinkers in terms of spirits, though they usually drink beer.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby JayDee » Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:17 am UTC

Okay, fair enough. But adding vodka to a drink still makes something more alchoholic with the minimal change in taste, right? Or is there something else out there with less of a taste?
hermaj wrote:Ewww, vodka and Coke. :(
Heh. Vodka and IRN BRU is where it's at. Coke is a poor substitute.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mitora » Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:20 am UTC

I can taste it too, but then I'm hypersensetive to a alcohol taste as I really dont care for much. Its a very bitter taste to me, and nearly ruins any drink.

@Hermaj on the subject of vodka and coke: Ewwww indeed. @.@
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby hermaj » Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:31 am UTC

JayDee wrote:Okay, fair enough. But adding vodka to a drink still makes something more alchoholic with the minimal change in taste, right? Or is there something else out there with less of a taste?


Yeah, low-middle range vodka would be what you'd use to minimise the effect on the drink - good enough not to burn or smell like paint stripper, still inexpensive enough to buy just for mixing and probably designed to have minimal taste. Smirnoff's a good one for mixing. So is the one that they use for Cruisers, Kristov, though I think it is a little harder to find and is a little more expensive.

I think white rum would be the next choice, though I don't enjoy it myself so that's solely on the basis of it being used in lots of cocktails and also having a range of premixed drinks.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby zenten » Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Blubb3r3ng3l wrote:I think the point is that adding vodka to something you want to be alcohol is supposed to be the liquor that retains most the previous taste. What you are tasting is the alcohol itself, not spices and stuff that were added. Alcohol will always have that bite, but vodka, by design, is supposed to be masked most by the mix it is put into.


No, that's something like Everclear.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Ours » Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:41 pm UTC

hermaj wrote:Yeah, and different brands of vodka taste different. It's not that they burn your throat differently or anything, there's a definite taste difference. My friends assure me vodka has no taste and I assure them I drink enough vodka to know otherwise. :P


Water from different regions tastes different too. :wink:

Vodka can be made from a lot of different ingredients (which are not labeled in most cases). To the best of my knowledge though the vodka is filtered during its production in order to loose fermentation and taste. There exist some final production steps to make it taste "smoother", so there can be differences between the brands not only subject to the use of different water.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Robin S » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:28 pm UTC

Assuming that when you say taste you're including smell - since smell makes a significant contribution to flavour - then vodka definitely has a flavour. It is, more or less, the flavour of alcohol. However, I don't think tastebuds have much part to play in detecting it.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mathmagic » Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:28 am UTC

hermaj wrote:(Ewww, vodka and Coke. :()

I'm probably going to be drawn-and-quartered for admitting this, but I was once at a get-together where the only alcohol available was Grey Goose. We mixed it with Pepsi.

That is ewwwww. :(
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby hermaj » Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:30 am UTC

*draws and quarters*

Though I'll admit, I've not yet had Grey Goose.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Bakemaster » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:33 am UTC

cypherspace wrote:I don't think good vodka, properly chilled, has any taste, unless you're buying specifically flavoured vodkas. If you can taste something you're either not chilling it properly, not buying good vodka, or you're mistaking a sensation for a taste.

Chilling liquids generally mutes their flavors. Just because you can't taste it at a certain temperature doesn't mean it doesn't have a flavor to begin with.

That being said, I've heard many people claim that quality vodka has no taste other than that of alcohol, and I have no experience with it myself, so what do I know.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:25 pm UTC

If I mix vodka into something, I can taste it. It mostly tastes of alcohol and is not pleasant. I stick to gin and rum as mixers.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:44 pm UTC

I think the confusion comes in when knowledgeable people say that "Vodka has no taste beyond the burning sensation of alcohol" which gets condensed by less knowledgeable people as "Vodka has no taste beyond alcohol" which gets further condensed to "Vodka has no taste"

So.. yes, you can taste it in a mixer. Given how I've seen some people react to the flavors of certain mixed drinks, I can only assume that some of us (myself included) can feel/taste the alcohol in much greater dilutions than our peers. I say this as during various samplings, I've always been able to taste the alcohol in the mix while my comrades in cocktail experimentation disbelieve as "I can't taste it, so it must be just in your head."

As a whole, I'd rather just take a shot of vodka, as the only way I can find a mixed beverage drinkable is to put in so little vodka that, if I continue to drink them as such, I'll get full and be unable to drink more long before the alcohol has a noticeable effect. We're talking a half-shot per 20 oz of other fluid.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Belial » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:58 pm UTC

I think the confusion comes in when knowledgeable people say that "Vodka has no taste beyond the burning sensation of alcohol" which gets condensed by less knowledgeable people as "Vodka has no taste beyond alcohol" which gets further condensed to "Vodka has no taste"


Quite. As near as I can tell, alchohol is a sensation, not a taste. And it's a sensation that dissipates to totally acceptable levels with even a little dilution.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:31 pm UTC

Sez you.

My nose and mouth say otherwise. Hence, shots. I'd rather get it all over with quickly than drag it out to a lesser extent over the course of a 16oz drink or whatever.

Also, I can't drink orange juice. Maybe if I just injected oranges with Vodka.....
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mathmagic » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:38 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Maybe if I just injected oranges with Vodka.....

Like this?
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Matt » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:54 pm UTC

cypherspace wrote:you're mistaking a sensation for a taste.


This is it right here.

Grain based vodka has no flavor. That's by design. Any "flavor" would be insignificant in any other culinary application, although you can taste these differences (due to impurities in water, like people have said) if you drink it straight and warm. Some of them can be pleasant, though, and if you drink enough spirits, the viscous consistency can impart a slight "sweetness" in some cases. The majority of vodkas I've sampled straight and warm leave unpleasant metallic overtones, and all of this is overshadowed by alcoholic burn for the casual drinker.

Either way, "vodka" has "no" flavor, vodka drinks would taste comparable cut with water instead, and people should really start upgrading to other spirits if they're busy obsessing over the miniscule nuance of "flavor" in vodka. Whiskies have loads of complexity that you'd appreciate.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby zenten » Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Matt wrote:
cypherspace wrote:you're mistaking a sensation for a taste.


This is it right here.

Grain based vodka has no flavor. That's by design. Any "flavor" would be insignificant in any other culinary application, although you can taste these differences (due to impurities in water, like people have said) if you drink it straight and warm. Some of them can be pleasant, though, and if you drink enough spirits, the viscous consistency can impart a slight "sweetness" in some cases. The majority of vodkas I've sampled straight and warm leave unpleasant metallic overtones, and all of this is overshadowed by alcoholic burn for the casual drinker.

Either way, "vodka" has "no" flavor, vodka drinks would taste comparable cut with water instead, and people should really start upgrading to other spirits if they're busy obsessing over the miniscule nuance of "flavor" in vodka. Whiskies have loads of complexity that you'd appreciate.


See, the thing is I'm not comparing a vodka mixed drink to a non-alchoholic drink. I'm comparing a vodka mixed drink to say a whisky mixed drink, or a tequila mixed drink, with the same alcohol content and same non-alcoholic ingreedients, and saying the vodka drink is nastier. For instance, vodka-coke, nasty. Jack and coke, delish.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Azrael » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:52 pm UTC

zenten wrote:Jack and coke, delish.
Egads that's a terrible example.

And a terrible thing to do to perfectly good Coke, too.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby zenten » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:13 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
zenten wrote:Jack and coke, delish.
Egads that's a terrible example.

And a terrible thing to do to perfectly good Coke, too.


It tastes like chocolate.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mathmagic » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:59 pm UTC

zenten wrote:See, the thing is I'm not comparing a vodka mixed drink to a non-alchoholic drink. I'm comparing a vodka mixed drink to say a whisky mixed drink, or a tequila mixed drink, with the same alcohol content and same non-alcoholic ingreedients, and saying the vodka drink is nastier. For instance, vodka-coke, nasty. Jack and coke, delish.

Except that whiskey and vodka are made completely differently and with different ingredients.

Vodka = Water + Ethanol
Whiskey = Water + Ethanol + Flavour
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:26 pm UTC

mathmagic wrote:Vodka = Water + Ethanol
Whiskey = Water + Ethanol + Flavour


Um.

To clarify for anyone not familiar with brewing/fermenting processes. Vodka, high quality anyway, is marked for being distilled and filtered and PURE. I.e., it has no flavor. The 'flavor' your tasting is the ethanol, the water, and any impurities along the way. Other additives may impart a flavor. The stuffs CHARCOAL filtered, that means your removing even more 'flavor'. Hell, it's even SERVED ICE COLD, numbing any taste receptors that might pick up said impurities. That's why the stuff often comes (disgustingly) mixed with flavors.
Whiskey/Bourbon/Gin: All FLAVORED in the aging process.

The 'burn' is not a flavor, neither is the viscosity.

Jack and coke is a exceptional beverage. It is simple, comforting, crisp, and taste like two good beverages.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Matt » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:51 pm UTC

zenten wrote:See, the thing is I'm not comparing a vodka mixed drink to a non-alchoholic drink. I'm comparing a vodka mixed drink to say a whisky mixed drink, or a tequila mixed drink, with the same alcohol content and same non-alcoholic ingreedients, and saying the vodka drink is nastier. For instance, vodka-coke, nasty. Jack and coke, delish.


Keep up with us, here. Vodka is for all intents grain alcohol + filtered water. What happens when you dilute cola with water? The same thing happens when you dilute it with vodka.

I won't lay into you for liking Jack Daniels, even if I know it's only because you think it tastes good because cola tastes good.

Everybody! Quick bulletin: if you enjoy Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, stop buying it and try George Dickel, the OTHER Tennessee Whiskey. It is better by whole magnitudes, and almost half the price for the simple reason it's not riding solely on an ad campaign. Or even just try any real bourbon. Hell, Jack is 80 proof now.

Izawwlgood wrote:Whiskey/Bourbon/Gin: All FLAVORED in the aging process.


Gin is not aged, and whiskies are only flavored when it's Tennessee Whiskey. Nothing goes into bourbon after distillation but time and water when it's cut to proof. They taste different because bourbon is made of corn and rye, and vodka (and gin) is made of grain (or potatoes, or anything really, but then it has a flavor too).
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby zenten » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:43 pm UTC

mathmagic wrote:
zenten wrote:See, the thing is I'm not comparing a vodka mixed drink to a non-alchoholic drink. I'm comparing a vodka mixed drink to say a whisky mixed drink, or a tequila mixed drink, with the same alcohol content and same non-alcoholic ingreedients, and saying the vodka drink is nastier. For instance, vodka-coke, nasty. Jack and coke, delish.

Except that whiskey and vodka are made completely differently and with different ingredients.

Vodka = Water + Ethanol
Whiskey = Water + Ethanol + Flavour


See, here's what I don't get. When I drink Whiskey, I still taste the alcohol. Same as when I drink a Jack and Coke. But it doesn't taste nasty like vodka.

Basically, I don't get how:

good flavour (coke) + good flavour (non-alchohol stuff in whiskey) + alcohol = yummy
but
good flavour (coke) + alcohol = ick

Matt wrote:Gin is not aged, and whiskies are only flavored when it's Tennessee Whiskey. Nothing goes into bourbon after distillation but time and water when it's cut to proof. They taste different because bourbon is made of corn and rye, and vodka (and gin) is made of grain (or potatoes, or anything really, but then it has a flavor too).


Gin also has juniper berries.

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mathmagic » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:52 pm UTC

Because cola plus unflavoured alcohol is gross. When you mix a rum-and-coke, you're adding the flavour of the rum with the drunkiness of the alcohol. The flavour of the rum overpowers the flavour of the alcohol. When there's nothing to cover the flavour of the alcohol, it makes cola taste nasty.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 01, 2008 12:24 am UTC

zenten wrote:See, here's what I don't get. When I drink Whiskey, I still taste the alcohol. Same as when I drink a Jack and Coke. But it doesn't taste nasty like vodka.
Basically, I don't get how:

good flavour (coke) + good flavour (non-alchohol stuff in whiskey) + alcohol = yummy
but
good flavour (coke) + alcohol = ick


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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Matt » Thu May 01, 2008 12:35 am UTC

zenten wrote:Gin also has juniper berries.


Congratulations.

mathmagic wrote:Because cola plus unflavoured alcohol is gross. When you mix a rum-and-coke, you're adding the flavour of the rum with the drunkiness of the alcohol. The flavour of the rum overpowers the flavour of the alcohol. When there's nothing to cover the flavour of the alcohol, it makes cola taste nasty.


No. No no no.

Go get some cola and some water. Mix them in proportions in which you would enjoy a Rum and Coke. See how it still tastes nasty? Dilution is the issue, not alcohol burn.

If you think the flavor of rum negates the burn of 80+ proof liquor, well, you haven't been drinking rum. You've been drinking candied sewage.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mathmagic » Thu May 01, 2008 12:41 am UTC

Matt wrote:
mathmagic wrote:Because cola plus unflavoured alcohol is gross. When you mix a rum-and-coke, you're adding the flavour of the rum with the drunkiness of the alcohol. The flavour of the rum overpowers the flavour of the alcohol. When there's nothing to cover the flavour of the alcohol, it makes cola taste nasty.


No. No no no.

Go get some cola and some water. Mix them in proportions in which you would enjoy a Rum and Coke. See how it still tastes nasty? Dilution is the issue, not alcohol burn.

If you think the flavor of rum negates the burn of 80+ proof liquor, well, you haven't been drinking rum. You've been drinking candied sewage.

Where did I say it negates the burn? I said it covered the flavour of the alcohol. You can still feel the alcohol, it just doesn't taste nasty. And I *have* drunk watered-down cola; it's called fountain pop. Trust me, it's not the dilution that makes cola and vodka gross.

FWIW, I usually just tend to go with something like Captain Morgan's for mixing drinks, if that makes a difference. I haven't really tried mixing with "good" rum.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Mr. Mack » Thu May 01, 2008 12:53 am UTC

Matt wrote:whiskies are only flavored when it's Tennessee Whiskey. Nothing goes into bourbon after distillation but time and water when it's cut to proof.

That's not entirely true. Bourbon, like all forms of whiskey, gets flavor from the barrel they store it in. (Click these words and read under "maturation"). The flavor difference in Tennessee whiskey and bourbon is due to the fact that Tennessee whiskey is charcoal filtered and bourbon isn't.
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mathmagic wrote:FWIW, I usually just tend to go with something like Captain Morgan's for mixing drinks, if that makes a difference. I haven't really tried mixing with "good" rum.

That isn't good rum? My standards are too low. I actually prefer the Captain to Bacardi because, oddly enough, I didn't think Bacardi added enough flavor. Although I still haven't tried their spiced rum yet.

I have so much drinking to catch up on.
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Izawwlgood
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu May 01, 2008 1:10 am UTC

Matt wrote:Gin is not aged, and whiskies are only flavored when it's Tennessee Whiskey. Nothing goes into bourbon after distillation but time and water when it's cut to proof. They taste different because bourbon is made of corn and rye, and vodka (and gin) is made of grain (or potatoes, or anything really, but then it has a flavor too).


Whiskey's are aged. Aged in barrels. Barrels that impart flavor. Bourbon is whiskey that is aged in burnt barrels, adding a different color and flavor.

Whiskey (and therefor, bourbon) is fermented from corn (i think rye too?)

Gin is fermented from juniper berries.

Vodka is fermented from grain or potatoes.

So again, vodka, which is NOT aged in barrels that induce flavor, are FLAVORLESS, whiskey (and bourbon) which IS aged in barrels which impart flavor, have a flavor (and a color).

I'm not sure about gins aging process.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Matt » Thu May 01, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm not sure about gins aging process.


Gin is not aged. It is flavored distilled neutral spirits.

Everybody knows about barrel aging imparting wood flavor. I was pointing out the fact that Tennessee was actually flavored with a flavoring agent whereas bourbon isn't.

Anyone who thinks that higher proof or less mixer = nastier taste is getting their natural aversion to alcohol burn mixed up in the equation.
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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Azrael » Thu May 01, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Gin is fermented from juniper berries.
Dear Lord, no it isn't.

You lose all thread credibility.

Gin is a grain spirit that is redistilled after steeping with various flavoring agents - juniper is the universal one.

And different whiskeys have different mashbills. Bourbon is at least 51% corn. Rye whiskies are at least 51% rye. Canadian whiskey is a grain mix, typically rye heavy. Irish whiskey is primarily barley, usually only partial malted and mixed with grain whiskey. Scotch's base is malted barley that is then dried with smoke, sometimes from peat fires.

(And Scotch doesn't have to be all barely. Nor all malted barley. Nor smoked. Nor peat smoked. Mostly is just has to be aged in oak in Scotland for at least 3 years.)

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Re: The taste of vodka

Postby Blubb3r3ng3l » Thu May 01, 2008 1:40 am UTC

All I have to say to you all is this. Whiskey or bourbon/coke is fantastic. THAT IS ALL.
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