Vodka is an exercise in purity. The recipe is as old as the art of distillation itself.
Simply take any fermented liquid (typically made from potatoes, grain or fruit) and then distil it multiple times until you are left with only pure alcohol and water. Any taste or aroma of the original ingredient should be greatly reduced in the final product.
Traditionally, this level of purity is achieved by distilling the vodka three, four or even five times. However, using my modern equipment, by the time my vodka drips from the still, it has undergone nearly thirty distillations achieving an astonishing level of purity.
Filtering is an important part of making vodka, and it’s where I believe many distillers get it wrong.
Many vodkas are filtered so heavily that there truly is no detectable flavour or aroma remaining. This approach works fine if you plan to mix vodka into soft drinks at the club, but the underlying spirit itself is bland and without character.
I use a two-part filtering process to remove any impurities, but I take a much gentler approach. First, the vodka is filtered through activated charcoal to remove any trace impurities from the spirit. It’s then chilled to between one and two degrees centigrade. At that temperature, any remaining particles begin to clump together. I pass the vodka through very fine filter pads to remove these impurities.
By being gentle in filtering, my vodka retains a faint sweetness from the original malted barley, giving it a distinctive character that can be sipped on its own. Kirkwood Barley Vodka is bottled generously at 46%ABV but remains supremely smooth and creamy in texture.