- Some think that vodka should have a neutral taste (tasteless?). This is not the view of all. The Zolotonosha Distillery in Ukraine produces vodkas based on oldMessage 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2002View Source
Some think that vodka should have a neutral taste (tasteless?). This is not the view of all. The Zolotonosha Distillery in Ukraine produces vodkas based on old recipes and which do not seem to make it to our stores. I even recently tried a Ukrainian vodka flavored with birch buds which seems strange, but then birch contains flavorsome and medicinal wintergreen oil. Apparently home distillation is legal in Ukraine, and the commercial distilleries have to try harder. See:
The Ukrainian word for vodka is 'horilka'. This most probably came from the Polish 'gorzalka' which has been replaced by 'wodka'. 'Vodka' and 'horilka' suggest a Western European origin for the distilled drink. The Chinese, Arabs and Turks knew how to distill alcohol, but do not seem to have had an influence in Russia, Ukraine or Poland. Most probably distilled alcohol arrived here via the Baltic trading ports. The terms used for the new beverage in these countries appears to come from the Latin 'aqua vitae' (water of life) and 'aqua ardens' (burning water). 'Aqua vitae' gave us the Irish 'uisce beatha' which was shortened to 'uisce' (whisky), 'eau-de-vie' (French) and 'zhizhenia voda' in Russian, which was shortened to the diminutive 'vodka'. In Polish 'aqua vitae' was corrupted to 'okowita' which one sometimes sees in Ukrainian also. 'Aqua ardens' gave 'aguardiente' (Spanish), 'gorzalka' (Polish) and 'horilka' (Ukrainian) - all isuggest 'burning water'. In feudal Ukraine, the serfs bought alcohol (20%bv 'sivukha') from taverns owned by Polish nobles and made various herb and fruit flavored liqueurs, possibly to mask the poor quality alcohol. Economic exploitation encouraged people to try home distillation. In present Poland, the price of vodka ('wodka') has risen steeply to bring in revenue for a struggling economy, and although illegal, home distillation is apparently thriving.
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