Whiskey or Vodka?
In Russia, strong alcoholic drinks are consumed most – 70-75% of the total alcohol consumption. But if vodka used to be an absolute leader before, then in the last years its share has significantly fallen due to cognac, whiskey, rum, and tequila. Although, not everyone knows the difference between imported liquors and Russian vodka. In order to fill this gap, I’d like to compare whiskey and vodka.
1.The Technology.Vodka is a mixture of rectified ethanol (well purified) and water. 40% ABV. Some varieties of vodka can have a higher ABV and (or) aromatic additives. The standardized technology enabled to establish production in many countries, but vodka is still considered to be a traditional Russian beverage. In pure form it is consumed only in the CIS and Russia. In Europe and USA vodka is considered to be a great base for cocktails, because it has neither smell nor taste.
Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage from barley, rye or corn, which is produced by malting (cereal sprouting), fermenting, distilling the must, and maturing the distillate in oak barrels for a few years. It has 40-60% ABV. The taste depends not only on the quality of raw materials but also distiller’s skill and time of maturing in barrels. Each region has different technology requirements, there are no common standards. Whiskey is traditionally produced in Ireland, Scotland, USA, Canada, and Japan.
The production technology of whiskey is similar to moonshine. It is made from only a few varieties of cereal and that increases the value. In its turn, alcohol for vodka can be produced from any starch-containing raw material. For example, potatoes, sugar beet, peas can be used in a mixture with cereal.
2.Organoleptic Properties. By this, we mean a color, smell, and taste of the beverage. Depending on the time of maturing in oak barrels, the color of whiskey changes from light-yellow to brown. The taste changes from lingering thick to light and flowery. The raw materials used and the production region influence that. The “heaviest” one is considered to be the Scottish islands whisky. Its second name is “scotch.”
A good vodka should be sufficiently strong, transparent, and have no taste or smell. Other requirements for its organoleptic properties are not specified.
3. The Culture of Consuming. In this vodka and whiskey are in stark contrast to each other. In Russia, it is common to drink vodka at tableful in large doses. Its taste is not important. The important things are the result, appetizers, and fun companionship.
Whiskey is more suitable for those liquor enthusiasts, who gather in private in a quiet place in order to have a good talk or engage in other interesting activities (for example, playing cards). Whiskey is drunk from special glasses by small sips, trying to pick up on the features of the aroma and taste. It is not customary to dilute or have a bite after whiskey because it interrupts the perception. After tasting people usually discuss its taste and compare it to other brands.
Vodka is better for a loud group of friends of acquaintances, who are not experts on liquors. For a small circle of enthusiast friends, a bottle of whiskey will help brighten up the holidays, by giving new impressions after degustation.
4. Health Hazard. There’s no common opinion on that matter. Some researchers say that whiskey is more harmful than vodka, because it contains more admixtures (for example, essential oils, which are not removed after distillation). Vodka is a rectified alcohol which contains nothing but water and spirit.
Their opponents reference the study of Russian toxicologists under Professor Nujniy Vladimir Pavlovich, who is the head of the addiction research institute of the Health Ministry of the Russian Federation. Scientists concluded that in excessive doses any liquor can be harmful, but vodka is the most harmful. The problem lies exactly in the absence of admixtures. Because of that organism can’t recognize the hazard right away and reacts with a delay, when there’s already a malfunction in the work of vital organs.
Some micro pollutants of distillate partly protect the organism from the pure ethanol affection and in small doses can be actually healthy. It is common knowledge that cognac dilates blood vessels and whisky raises the tone. Other admixtures, for example, hydrocyanic acid and fusel oils in grappa (Chacha) create additional stress for the organism and are harmful.
This group of researchers has also concluded that in the rate of development of physical dependence vodka has no equals. If consumed on a regularly basis it will cause alcoholism faster than cognac or whisky.
These conclusions are backed by statistics. In countries where distillates (cognac, calvados, whisky, bourbon, etc.) are more favored, these are Ireland, France, and USA, the amount of alcoholics per 100 thousand citizens is much lower than in those, where people prefer rectified ethanol beverages. Pure vodka is drunk the most in Russia, Ukraine, and Finland
5. Intoxication and hang-over.Subjective data, which depend on an individual feature of a human organism, are hard to analyze. Theoretically, with equal amounts of liquor drunk the level of intoxication and hang-over are determined by the concentration of admixtures in the beverage. In this case, good vodka can be taken as a base point, because it does not contain admixtures.
But we know that depending on the chemical structure admixtures in distillates can be healthful and harmful. This means that hang-over from good whisky is lesser than from vodka, because admixtures in it block negative influence of alcohol. In case of bad whisky the situation is opposite – fast intoxication with strong hang-over on the next day.
P.S. Everyone decides for himself whether to drink vodka or whisky. To a large extent, this choice depends on financial means, nature of a feast, and company. The main goal of this article was to show the difference between them, not choosing the best.