Food Scientist for Hire



Let’s talk about vodka – that crystal-clear spirit crafted from water and ethanol. Sometimes, it might come with flavorings to jazz things up. Vodka plays a starring role in many of today’s favorite cocktails and alcoholic RTD products, like hard seltzers. To get the best flavored drink, vodka beverage development has to be done very carefully.


Vodka boasts an intriguing history. While some folks claim it originated in Russia, others say Poland deserves the credit for being the first to use the word vodka. In Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, the drink is usually drunk ‘neat’ and not mixed with ice or other mixers. Whereas the trend in Western Europe or the US is to drink it with juices or in cocktail form.  

Vodka’s name comes from the Slavic word “voda” meaning water, and is often referred to as “waterkin”. The term “vodka” appeared in English literature around the late 18th century, referring to it as a type of brandy or grain spirit. Across various languages, including Polish, Ukrainian, and Finnish, vodka names often contain elements related to “burning,” reflecting its historical association with strong alcoholic beverages.

Traditionally, vodka is made by distilling liquid from fermented cereal grains and potatoes. Some modern brands use corn, sugar cane, fruit, agave, honey, and maple sap as the base. CIROC even gained popularity by highlighting its use of fresh grapes as the primary ingredient.


The liquid that vodka beverage manufacturers have after distillation isn’t all the same. The first 35 percent of a distillation results in an ethanol product that contains methanol or acetone and can be highly volatile. This liquid is called the “foreshots” or the “heads,” and distillers usually throw them out. The following 30 percent contains the “hearts,” which are the best tasting and cleanest part of the product. The final 35 percent are the “tails,” which are impure but can be kept and redistilled for a little more product.

Since traditional vodkas are flavorless and smooth, many vodka manufacturers will add an extra step to their production line—filtration. Once they’ve identified the hearts of their distillate, they’ll pass this product through a large filtration system (usually with charcoal or carbon) to ensure the final product has a great, clean mouthfeel.

Once the distillers have their distilled product, they’ll dilute the vodka to the desired alcohol content by testing the alcohol by volume (ABV) and gradually adding water. The European Union has established a minimum alcohol content of 37.5% for vodka. Vodka in the United States must have a minimum alcohol content of 40%.


At Food Scientist For Hire, we understand the importance of delivering top-notch vodka quality. Tailored to your unique preferences, our flavored vodka formulation services ensure your vision comes to life. We take the time to understand your ideas and concoct the perfect recipe for your brand-new vodka creation. We can whip up a signature flavored vodka that will leave your customers delighted. Cheers to great spirits!