Guide to Russian Vodka

Russia has a deep-rooted history in producing vodka, with the earliest known stories of the spirit originating there appearing in the 14th and 15th Centuries.

Since then, it has become almost as one with the culture of the people that live there and remains one of the staples of every Russian household.

Russians overwhelmingly prefer to drink their vodka straight and only sometimes chilled and with people being able to purchase vodka for as little as a few dollars, it is incredibly widespread.

The vodka produced in the country tends to be produced from grains such as wheat or rye and they are characteristically more robust than vodkas made elsewhere.

Whilst Russians have historically preferred to produce unflavoured varieties of vodka, the global demand for flavoured varieties means that distilleries there often produce a multitude of flavoured products that usually come from artificial or natural flavourings added to the spirit just before bottling.

In any case, with vodka having such a deep association with Russia, it makes sense for many to start their tasting journey here and explore all that the country has to offer.

For more on the history and customs of the drink in Russia, consider this article.

Map of Russian Vodka Distilleries & Brands

Russian Vodka Distilleries Map

No family celebration in Russia can occur without a good bottle of vodka and there are plenty for the local and international consumer to choose from.

Of the hundreds of brands that exist, most are made by only a select number of companies spread right across the country, as vodka production in Russia has typically been undertaken either by the government or a select group of very large companies.

Some of the largest distilleries and groups, responsible for producing the majority of all well known brands, include the Moscow Distillery Cristall, Rodnik Distillery, JSC Synergy Group, which is actually a conglomerate of at least seven distilleries and one spirits plant, The Trading House of the Heirs of the P.A. Smirnov, and Tatspirtprom.

These companies are collectively responsible for producing most of the well known vodka brands and bottles in Russia, including Stolichnaya, Russian Standard, and Beluga.

Some of the other prominent vodka brands are mentioned here in this article.

Among some of the most loved bottles that come from Russia include Beluga Noble Vodka, which is known for its citric taste that comes with hints of oats and honey and spicy finish, Russian Standard Vodka, famous for being one of the most reliable bottles of vodka on the market at a highly competitive price point, and Stolichnaya, which is famed for its lighter texture and clean, snappy finish that makes it one of the easiest drinking vodkas globally.

Pairing Food with Russian Vodka

As discussed, Russians typically tend to drink their vodka neat or over ice, and sometimes place their preferred bottle in the freezer before serving.

Serving vodka super chilled increases the viscosity, or texture, of the drink but also decreases its inherent flavours and aromas.

Because of this, it is common practice to serve a bottle of vodka chilled when you’re pouring a lower quality product, as some of the unwanted flavours and odours are subdued.

Serving vodka neat and unchilled, therefore, is usually reserved for the more premium vodka products as the flavours, texture, taste, and smoothness inherent in these better quality products do not require subjugation.

Aside from serving Russian vodka neat or chilled, it is easy to utilise a bottle within a multitude of cocktails or mixers.

Due to the subtle flavour characteristics and softer odours, vodka can be mixed with practically anything as it will almost immediately blend in well with the surrounding flavours.

With this in mind, it can be mixed into anything as simple as a Vodka & Lemonade or something more complex, such as a Bloody Mary.

Pairing Food with Russian Vodka

Matching food with spirits of any kind, though a curious past time elsewhere, is commonplace amongst Russians with their vodkas.

Due to the extreme versatility of vodka as a neutral spirit it can be paired with almost anything and remain a complementary taste.

There are some foods that match best with almost any bottle of vodka though, including smoked fish, cured meats, pickles, light salads or seafood dishes, or any type of smoked meat, as the salty, fresh, or smoked flavours of these dishes are well balanced by the heat, light citrus, and spice present in many vodkas.

There's a bottle of Russian vodka out there for everyone. Here are some of the brands and bottles that we recommend you look out for the next time you're browsing online or in-store.

Beluga Noble Russian Vodka Tasting Notes
Smooth, light, & gently crisp in its flavour profile, this vodka can be drunk neat or used in cocktails, making it good value for money.

Beluga Noble

Russian Wheat Vodka

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