Who doesn't know James Bond's favorite drink? Vodka Martini - shaken not stirred of course. The history of vodka is colourful and epic. We give you a brief rundown of how vodka was born, a two nations claim for its inception and its global conquest of the cocktail drinker's hearts and pour into Mr Bond's glass.
Mankind had an edge for producing alcoholic beverage from the earliest times of civilization. Alcohol brewers, for example, during Babylonian times could produce solely by natural fermentation, a process that would make a beverage with about 14% alcohol content.
Only with the invention of distillation, spirits with higher alcohol content could be created. Early distillers however, such as the Persians, were using this process to make floral aromas which started the modern perfume industry and not to distill spirits for consumption.
When merchants slowly started to spread the news about Persian distillation across to Europe this kickstarted the production of more potent drinks and spirits as we know them today from whisky to brandies and schnapps to vodka..
Who made it first?
The origin of modern vodka can be traced to Poland and Russia. Both countries lay claim to have been the first to produce vodka. The first record of the production of vodka (its name is derived from the Russian word "voda" meaning water) dates from 9th century Russia and the first distillery was mentioned in a Russian newspaper two centuries later in 1174. Polish claim the discovery of vodka goes back to the 8th century, but historians argue that back then they may have only produced crude brandy distilled from wine.
Rise of a local spirit
The popularity of vodka began to rise during the 14th century. By 1540 the Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible introduced high taxes on vodka and established a network of taverns across the country. These government taverns had the exclusive rights to sell vodka and the private production of this spirit was punishable by law.
Between the middle of the 18th and 19th century, Russia started to heavily promote vodka as a national drink. Its taxation became so lucrative that it represented 40% of the entire annual state revenue. In 1863 the government monopoly on vodka production was finally repealed, and opened up the market for private production and sales..
The Polish history of vodka was very different and there the government actually enabled, by the decree of their King Jan Olbrecht in 1564, every citizen to produce vodka.
World conquest of vodka
Vodka spread outside Europe through trade but also during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century as Russian soldiers carried it along with them throughout the continent.
More international recognition outside the borders of Poland and Russia came during 1930s, when several influential vodka makers emigrated from Russia to the west. This marked the beginning of the world conquest of this versatile spirit.
One reason for the popularity of vodka today is its relative neutral flavor compared to other spirits that makes it a perfect ingredient for many long drinks and cocktails, not to mention the famous James Bond vodka martini.
Vodka is produced all over the world today and made from distilled grains, potatoes and even milk.
Try your vodka in our cocktail of the month!
(sources: parts of the content and pictures are taken from articles originally published by vodkafacts.com and blackcow.co.uk
Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
Maraska Maraschino liqueur has been made from the Marasca cherries since the beginning of the 16th century. The export of Maraschino Liqueur started towards the end of the 18th Century.
This original cherry liqueur has conquered the world in the past 200 years. Among the fruits grown around the picturesque city of Zadar, a special kind of Sour Cherry is cultivated that has brought world fame to this area. The distillery even took its name from the noble Marasca cherry that provides the raw material for many of its products.
Maraska Maraschino liqueur is produced from the distillates of the Dalmatian marasca tart cherries and is known all over the world because of its typical sweet taste and the aromatic fragrance of sweet cherries.
700 ml / 32% abv
Black Cow Vodka
Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka is a unique artisanal vodka; the first of its kind made entirely from the milk of grass grazed cows and nothing else. Fresh whole milk makes exceptionally smooth vodka with a unique creamy character.
Pure Milk Vodka is the invention of dairy farmer Jason Barber. Situated on England’s West Dorset coast, his inspiration came from a desire to diversify the produce from his 250 strong dairy herd and his deep personal interest in vodka.
Vodka from milk?! How is it made?
Once the cows have been milked, the milk is separated into curds and whey. The curds are used to make cheese and the whey is fermented into a beer using a special yeast that converts the natural milk sugars into alcohol. This milky beer is then distilled and treated to a secret blending process. The vodka is then triple filtered and finished, before being hand bottled. Black Cow is made from the same milk that is used to make the award winning Barber’s 1833 cheddar, and our own Black Cow Deluxe Cheddar.
Singapore based Bannie Kang was crowned winner of the 2018 Global Black Cow Cup cocktail competition. You can try her drink - “The Thinker” - made with fermented banana enzyme, at Anti:dote bar at the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore where she’s the Head Bartender.
700 ml / 40% abv
Old Young's Pure No. 1 Vodka
Australian sugarcane meets Swan Valley grapes, resulting in a modern classic, with a crisp, clean flavour and a wonderfully smooth finish. This is small-batch spirit making at its finest. Pure No. 1 is pure enjoyment.
Best served neat - straight from the freezer.
90% Australian Sugar Cane, 10% Swan Valley Grapes
Trophy – Champion Vodka – 2016 & 2017 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards
Trophy – Best International Vodka – 2017 American Distilling Institute Awards
Gold – 2016 & 2017 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards
Gold – 2017 American Distilling Institute Awards
Old Young's Smoked Vodka
Hickory, cherrywood, peat and eucalyptus make a distiller’s mix that adds a smoky dimension to classic cocktails such as an old-fashioned or manhattan, or a downright dirty vodka martini.
We might not have the climate in Singapore for camp fires - but this is all the smoke you need!
Also pairs well with Old Young's Cold Drip Coffee Vodka in a coffee old-fashioned.
100% Australian Wheat
Bespoke distillers mix including hickory, cherrywood peat and eucalyptus
Silver – 2016 & 2017 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards
Silver – 2015 Hong Kong IWSC
Old Young's Pavlova Vodka
With a meringue base and summer fruit infusion, Pavlova is a fitting tribute to the Australia's classic dessert. Its sophisticated sweetness pairs best with sparkling cranberry juice.
100% Australian Wheat
Passionfruit, Strawberry, Kiwifruit, Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Vanilla
Best in Category and Gold – 2017 & 2018 American Distilling Institute Awards
Silver – 2017 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards
Old Young's Cold Drip Coffee Vodka
Espresso martini fans rejoice! This unsweetened spirit is made for the coffee connoisseur. Made from single-origin Baba-Budan it also pairs well with Old Young's Smoked Vodka in a coffee old-fashioned.
100% Australian Sugar Cane
Medium Roast Baba-Budan Nuggets (India)
Bronze – 2018 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards
Bronze – 2018 American Distilling Institute Awards
BOUTIQUE SPIRITS SINGAPORE is a collective of unique craft spirits in the lion city. We pour you the latest news and stories on our independent spirits on these blog pages.