Vodka is a chameleon and blends seamlessly with just about anything. This is no accident: While there are no universal rules for producing the spirit, the final product is supposed to be colorless, odorless and tasteless. With that said, vodka isn’t completely neutral, and a number of distillers actually leave in a good amount of flavor. (The best way to taste these subtle differences is to drink vodka neat at room temperature.) Traditionally, vodka was made from potatoes, corn or grains, but it is now made from a range of exotic bases including grapes, maple syrup and even soybeans. Unlike Scotches and cognacs, which are made in pot stills, vodka is usually produced in a high-volume, continuous column still. After distillation, the spirit is filtered to remove any remaining impurities. Coal is a traditional filter, but brands today use a range of materials, even including diamonds. Vodka isn’t aged and can be bottled and sold immediately after production. What’s also helping to drive sales in America is the wide range of flavored vodkas now on the market.

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