A couple of days ago, I was shooting the breeze with a friend who would like to go vegan. One of the questions my friend asked was “Can I still drink alcohol?”.
While that question might sound funny to some, the reality is that there might be some alcoholic drinks you have to say goodbye to once you become vegan! To learn all veganism and alcohol in general CLICK HERE.
Among the various alcoholic drinks out there, there must be something that vegans can still indulge in! One of the most popular drinks is vodka.
So, “Is Vodka vegan?”. Well, based on my mini investigation, most vodka is vegan!
But of course, like other foods and drinks we vegans come across, we need to always look into the specifics of the product what we are about to consume.
Now before we all take a shot and shout “cheers” in unison, let’s take a look at what makes vodka an ideal drink for vegans and what vodka brands are safe for us to drink!
Vodka is a distilled clear colored liquor that has a no defined taste or aroma. Its alcoholic content usually ranges from 40 to 55%.
Traditionally vodka is made by distilling fermented potatoes or cereal grains. However, there are some brands that contain sugar or fruits.
According to the Vodka Museum based in Moscow, vodka production in Russia started around the 15th century.
Over the course of history, vodka expanded into Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. It wasn’t until 1930s that vodka became known in North America.
Apart from its alcoholic content, vodka is known to:
- Relieve stress
- Keep heart healthy
- Alleviate arthritis symptoms
- Reduce diabetes risks
What To Watch Out For When Looking For Vegan Vodka
To figure out whether a particular vodka is vegan or not, consider the following:
As I have mentioned beforehand, vodka is traditionally made of potatoes or grains. However, be wary of ones that have other additional ingredients particularly those that are flavoured. Some varieties may contain honey, cream and processed sugars (that might come from bone char).
2. Filtration Process
Filtration is a very important process in the production of vodka. Like in cases of other types of liquor, there might be brands out there that add animal derived products during the process. Also, some brands might be using a bone charcoal filter. They could be using either gelatin made from animal tissues or bones from fish (isinglass).
Vegan Vodka Brands
With its popularity and growing demand, it’s no surprise that there are numerous vodka brands around the world. But as not all vodkas are created equal, we will look into different brands and determine if their products are safe for vegans to enjoy from time to time!
1. Absolut Vodka (Vegan)
This now French owned vodka brand is produced near Ahus which is located in Southern Sweden. Its vodka was first introduced in 1879. Their vodka is made from
- Grain (wheat grown from Southern Sweden)
In terms of it being vegan friendly, the good news is that it really is! According to the brand itself, all of Absolut’s products do not contain any animal products whatsoever. And in terms of their flavored products, they are only using natural ingredients from fruits, spices and berries.
2. Smirnoff (Vegan)
Produced by a British company called Diageo, Smirnoff is one of the most popular popular vodka brands in the world. In 2017, it received the title of “world’s best selling vodka of 2016”.
Since it was first produced in the 1860s, it has grown exponentially well. This is evident through the growing list of countries where Smirnoff products are made and the 130 countries where they are distributed.
As the largest vodka brand in the world, it has a wide range of products. While they do not advertise their products as vegetarian or vegan, the brand has mentioned that they do not use any animal by-product during the production process. Also, as Smirnoff uses a traditional charcoal filtration method developed by Pyotr Smirnov, the coal being used is from Birch wood and not animal char.
3. Stolichnaya (Yes and No)
Popularly known as “Stoli”, this Russian brand produces vodka using rye and wheat.
The fermentation of Stoli involves using grains of wheat and rye and artesian water. The fermentation process lasts about 60 hours. When done, the liquid produced is distilled thrice, strengthening its alcohol volume by 96.4%.
It then goes through another dilution process where more artesian water is added. A filtering process follows using sand, quartz, activated charcoal and woven cloth.
Just like other vodka brands out there, Stolichnaya has a line of products. Among the current crop of premium flavored vodka, the following are not suitable for vegans:
- Stolichnaya Salted Karamel
- Chocolat Kokonut
- Stoli Sticki (contains honey)
BONUS: To learn how to make vegan friendly cocktails with your vodka, check out the video below!
4. Grey Goose (Vegan)
This brand first introduced its vodka to the world way back in the 1990s and it was then sold to Bacardi in 2004. This French vodka brand was created by American businessman, Sidney Frank.
In the production of its vodka, Grey Goose only uses 100% French ingredients including wheat from the Beauce region of the country as well as spring water that comes from the Massif Central Mountains.
Also, it should be noted that Grey Goose vodkas do not have an any animal ingredients or by products. To add, during the production phase, they are not using animal char at all.
5. Crystal Head Vodka (Vegan)
Crystal Head is a vodka brand founded in Canada by artist John Alexander and Dan Aykroyd (who you might know from Blues Brothers).
Aiming to make the “world’s purest vodka”, it is made of cream corn and peaches, distilled four time to turn it into a neutral grain spirit. It is then mixed with water from Newfoundland.
The liquid mixture goes through filtration for seven times. In three out of the seven times, the liquid goes through layers of Herkimer diamonds which are semi precious crystals.
According to their website, Crystal Head Vodka has zero additives and is kosher and vegan. And while the vodka can be pricey, it brings luxurious and unique drinking experience.
There is no doubt that vodka is one of the most popular liquors in the world. And it is also one liquor type that us vegans can still enjoy.
With so many brands out there, it’s important to look closely into the ones you favor. While vodka is generally made of vegan friendly ingredients, there are some varieties out there that contain things that we shouldn’t consume. Be cautious!
If you have a favorite vodka brand and flavor, let us know what they are in the comments below! Or if you know people who would love to learn more about this spirit, go ahead and share this on your socials!