Added flavourings

Many international brands of vodka produce a pure, colourless liquid, designed for mixing in cocktails. But in Russia, Poland, eastern Europe and Scandinavia, vodka is traditionally flavoured with fruit, herbs and spices, and is drunk neat, in small glasses.

These flavoured vodkas can be dry and fiery, or sweet and liqueur-like, and anything in between. A vast range of flavourings is used: lemons, limes, plums, morello cherries, rowan berries, cranberries, mangoes, green walnuts, red peppers, honey, vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, juniper, angelica, mint, black pepper, to name but a few.

Polish distillers produce a celebrated potato vodka called Zubrówka, which is flavoured with the essence of a sweet herb called bison grass, and has a blade of bison grass in the bottle. And one vodka from Gdansk, called Goldwasser, even has 22-carat gold flakes floating in it.

In the main vodka-producing countries, such flavoured vodkas are made commercially; many more are mixed, bottled and aged at home, according to precious family recipes handed down through the generations. You can find a recipe for one of these – for Krupnik, or honey vodka – on this website.