Vodka is an essential element to any bar. It is a key component to many popular cocktails. It’s worth having around just for Bloody Marys alone. Vodka can be made with virtually anything. Most common grains are used (wheat, rye, barley, corn) as well as potatoes and other tubers that can convert starch to sugar.
Vodka, by definition (according to the geniuses in the federal government), is aimed to be colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Of course we all know that this is a steaming pile of rubbish! Vodka does taste and smell of something and the determining factor can be primarily traced to its roots; the raw materials.
Potato vodkas often display a touch of sweetness and a discernable viscosity that make them exceptionally silky on the palate and the finish. Wheat is often delicate with a subtle grain note while corn is often the most delicate of all offering a silky, soft note of talc. Rye is the assertive ingredient in the pantry of vodka ingredients. Rye, when permitted to fully express itself, creates spicy vodka with viscosity to match. It is also often fruity and somewhat floral. In a line-up of vodkas crafted with varying materials, the rye vodka will most likely be the oddity, in a very pleasing way, and will most definitely dispel any notions of odorless neutrality. Fruit based vodkas are making an impact despite the fact that when I was green in the drinks biz we simply referred to these spirits as eaux-de-vie.
Despite the striking or subtle differences between vodkas made of potato, wheat, rye, or corn, consumers seem to be largely unaware and unimpressed by the material of origin. You are likely to find more consumers who erroneously believe that all vodka is made from potatoes than those concerned by the grain or tuber of choice.