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Why is vodka filtered at all - what else can possibly be removed?


perfection
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As i know it vodka is a highly rectified spirit run through the distillation process several times to make it neutral. Yes the  organoleptic qualities that result are from the congeners that distill over which will have be those that have a  vaporizing point close to that of of ethyl alcohol  and of course the 4.5 % odd water component.

 

So what else is there to remove by filtration (like activated charcoal) especially when demineralized water is used to dilute down to bottling strength?

 

Could somebody explain this to me with a few examples  ?

 

Thanks and stay safe 

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26 minutes ago, perfection said:

vodka is a highly rectified spirit run through the distillation process several times


It doesn’t need to. If you design your distillation set-up properly, one distillation is sufficient. Claims of multiple distillations are meant to suggest quality, but do - in the eyes of a technical chemist at least - in fact showcase an improper set-up or poor understanding of the process. 
 

30 minutes ago, perfection said:

congeners that distill over which will have be those that have a  vaporizing point close to that of of ethyl alcohol


In a very simplistic way, yes. In reality, no. Given a less-than-perfect setup and the fact that you are distilling out a low concentration environment right into the maximum azeotrope of ethanol you are bound to carry over volatiles of the same polarity, independently of their actual boiling point. We are talking 100 ppm scale here, bit they will certainly change the taste and smell. A nice overview can be found here.

 

Filtration over activated charcoal will remove these more efficiently than another distillation attempt, due to the inherent difficulty at high purity as described above. 

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19 minutes ago, Duvel said:

Claims of multiple distillations are meant to suggest quality


One thing to add: of course these claims also carry the romantic notion that the vodka is produced in artisanal pot stills ... and not in a set of regular continuously fed rectification columns.

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I always thought the aim of vodka was to make the alcohol colorless, tasteless, and odorless - like water. 

 

Maybe the more it gets filtered, the more likely it will get close to being like water? 

 

I never understood the differences between higher end vodka's (Tito's, Grey Goose, Kettle One) vs. cheaper stuff - Smirnoff etc.? 

 

Isn't it suppose to be tasteless? 

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19 minutes ago, eugenep said:

I always thought the aim of vodka was to make the alcohol colorless, tasteless, and odorless - like water. 

 

Maybe the more it gets filtered, the more likely it will get close to being like water? 

 

I never understood the differences between higher end vodka's (Tito's, Grey Goose, Kettle One) vs. cheaper stuff - Smirnoff etc.? 

 

Isn't it suppose to be tasteless? 

I agree.

 

But the expensive stuff is smoother on my tongue.

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On 5/30/2021 at 9:37 PM, eugenep said:

I always thought the aim of vodka was to make the alcohol colorless, tasteless, and odorless - like water. 

 

 

I always thought the aim of vodka was to get people loaded, without worrying about what it will taste like, since it's basically as you said.

 

If one were to drink gin, rum, any of the brown liquors, etc. etc. then its taste comes into play.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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technically 

 

by def of these folks :

 

https://www.atf.gov

 

vodka is neutral grain spirits.

 

@weinoo 

 

is correct.  V's purpose is to get you drunk.

 

and the Expensive stuff exists because you bought some

 

because your neighbor did.

 

Ive always wondered what chemically " smooth " is

 

on your tongue .

 

lab grade , silver ( 95 % ) or gold ( 100 % ) 

 

is not taxed , and thus cheap .

 

if you have 1 ) a lab  2 ) the proper paperwork for

 

the ATF    and its not smooth.

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Please to be perusing this:

 

https://www.artofdrink.com/science/does-grey-goose-contain-glycerine

 

Where the author says (among other things)

 

"So this leads us back to the Occult Food Additives Codex. The rules say you can add “stuff” to vodka and still call it vodka. One of the key additives for alcohol is glycerine (glycerol). This pleasant little molecule is a sugar alcohol, that naturally tastes sweet. It also has the advantage of taking the “sharp” edges off of alcohol or making it taste smoother. Basically, it’s Barry White for vodka."

 

IMHO, vodka exists to make delicious concoctions alcoholic.

 

I believe that Grey Goose contains as much glycerin as they're legally allowed to stuff into it.

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  • 4 months later...

I've had some tasty vodka. It wasn't the usually (bad-tasting) top-shelf stuff. It was a Polish potato vodka that one of my grandmother's friends had brought her from Eastern Europe. It had an earthy, potato-ey flavor that was really nice. It wouldn't make much sense for mixing. But I can see being in the mood to drink it straight. I assume from the flavor that it had neither been filtered nor distilled many times, but had been made from some kind of mash that tasted good to begin with.

 

For parties, for people who want to mix vodka with ... whatever ... I buy the big bottle of whatever's cheapest. 

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Notes from the underbelly

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I am not an expert and I have not tried this myself. But years ago I read an article somewhere that said you can turn the cheapest nastiest vodka into something as good as the good stuff by running it through a Brita filter several times. So go ahead someone. Let me know if it works.

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On 10/29/2021 at 8:58 PM, Nyleve Baar said:

I am not an expert and I have not tried this myself. But years ago I read an article somewhere that said you can turn the cheapest nastiest vodka into something as good as the good stuff by running it through a Brita filter several times. So go ahead someone. Let me know if it works.

I read that. It involved a blind test with a bunch of people including bartenders and liquor industry reps, so it sounded legit. Needs to be mentioned that by "good stuff" they meant vodkas that had done well in their previous blind tasting—which did not correspond with price or reputation or top-shelfiness. Typically Smirnoff wins blind tests because it isn't as offensive tasting as most when you drink it straight. Many of the top shelf brands are just badly distilled swill. None of them has enough flavor (good or bad) to make a difference once you mix them with coke or cool aid or cranberry juice or whatever else people do with these things.

 

I think the really flavorful ones (like the potato vodka I mentioned earlier) are outliers that don't make it into typical blind tastings. If they did they might be polarizing. If you like them, you wouldn't be able to mimic them by pouring Grey Goose into a Brita. But you might be able to make the potato vodka taste like Smirnof. 

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Notes from the underbelly

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  • 5 months later...

I would say that the purpose of filtration is to add another marketing label.

 

Having said that, since all American vodka starts out as industrial corn alcohol, I suppose you have to do *something* to it to make it palatable.

Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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