Potato Vodka vs Grain Vodka: How These and Other Varieties Differ

Potato Vodka vs Grain Vodka: How These and Other Varieties Differ

If your favorite type of alcohol is vodka, good news: it is the most versatile alcohol, and it comes in more than a few varieties. Whether you have specific dietary preferences, are looking for cleaner alcohol, or just like the taste, vodka is a great option.

When vodka was first created, potatoes were typically used, especially in Russia and Poland. Over many years, distillers found that grains could be used as well. However, the origins of both types of vodka are still debated to this day. Some believe it originated in the 8th century, while others believe it to be the 9th. 

The other debate is whether it originated in Russia or Poland, with both countries laying claim to the creation of this ever-popular alcohol. The only undisputed fact is that vodka was widespread in Russia in the 14th century, but, before then, there is no concrete information. Conversely, consumption in the United States really didn’t pick up until after World War II. 

Today, Russians use mostly grains for their vodka, as potatoes do not grow well in the frozen ground. And, thanks to their historical experience with the liquor, both Russia and Poland produce several brands of well-known vodka. 

You might assume the main ingredient in vodka is potato or grain, but you’d be wrong. The main ingredient in vodka is actually water. In its originating Slavic countries, vodka is known as voda. This translates to “little water” or simply “water.”

Many brands of vodka have a water content of 50-70%, depending on what their ABV is. While pretty much all brands of vodka fall into the same range of ABV and water percentages,there isn’t a hard and fast rule on these percentages between the different types. For example, just because a vodka is potato-based does not mean it is guaranteed to have a certain ABV. 

Beyond potato and grain, vodka can also be made from sugar cane and fruit—basically, anything that can be fermented can be made into vodka, but there is no guarantee it will taste good. 

Keep reading to learn more about these common vodka types, their differences, and similarities, as well as some information about popular vodka brands. 

Potato Vodka

Potato vodka is known as the “healthier” of the two types of vodkas. This is because it is gluten-free, sugar-free, and has a very low amount of carbohydrates. It is known as the most flavorful of all vodka types. 

Potato vodka is often served over ice or straight due to the fact that it has more flavor. This is the traditional way to drink it. Keep your bottle in the freezer for an extra smooth and enjoyable experience. 

Grain Vodka

This type of vodka includes any vodka made from grain such as wheat, rye, and barley. All varieties of grain vodka contain gluten as well as sugar, meaning that if you follow a gluten-free diet, this is not the choice for you. Grain vodka also has less inherent flavor when compared to potato vodka, although corn vodka is the least flavorful. 

Since it has less flavor than potato vodka, grain vodka is often used in mixed drinks and cocktails. Vodka blends well with practically any flavor you can think of and oftentimes enhances the flavor of the mixer. 

Is Vodka Gluten-Free?

Yes and no. Some vodkas are gluten-free, and others are not. For those who are health-conscious or have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, try potato or corn-based vodkas. 

Obviously, vodka that is made from wheat will contain gluten. Never fear, though, if you can’t have gluten. Just be aware of the ingredients used to make it and stick to potato and corn-based vodka to be safe. 

How Is Vodka Made?

Both potato vodka and grain vodka are created the same way, and there are four main steps in the process of creating vodka: 

  • Fermentation
  • Distillation
  • Dilution
  • Filtration 

Every type of vodka goes through each of these steps in order to be drinkable. After fermentation (when alcohol is formed), distillation takes place in order to purify the vodka and remove any unwanted elements. Distillation also increases the ABV content because it removes excess water. 

In the US, all types of vodka must have a minimum ABV of 40%. Basically, potato and grain vodka only have a difference of ingredients, but not much else. 

What Are Some Popular Vodka Brands?

There are many popular brands of vodka out there, so there’s basically something for everyone. Some are traditional Polish and Russian brands, while others are newer, gluten-free varieties. Some brands are very cheap, costing less than $20 a bottle, while some luxury brands of vodka can cost upwards of a million dollars or more! It’s essentially the Goldilocks of alcohol—keep looking until you find something that’s just right. 

You can pretty much always find a decent brand within any budget and price range. Below, we’ve created a list of some very popular vodka brands with a little bit of information about each one. You can find all of these brands (and many more) right here on Saucey

  • Ciroc: This vodka is made in the USA and is always popular when you are out at the bar. It is great for shots or mixed drinks. It offers a great taste, infused with strawberry and raspberry essences. It is 80 proof and comes in a variety of other flavors, such as pineapple and peach.  
  • Ketel One: The Dutch know what they are doing when it comes to vodka. Ketel One comes from the Netherlands, and it is distilled in copper kettles by a family of vodka-makers that goes back ten generations—talk about tradition. It has hints of citrus and honey and tastes crisp and silky.
  • Smirnoff: This vodka is a classic for a reason—this 80 proof vodka has been well-loved from the moment that it made its way into the United States from Russia. In fact, this vodka is so tasty that it inspired the creation of the Moscow Mule in 1941—talk about tradition! 
  • Tito’s: This brand, created in 1997, has grown to become one of the most popular vodka companies. It is known for being a high-quality, gluten-free vodka. It is made using old-fashioned pot stills, giving it a truly unique taste. Affordable, delicious, and perfect for mixed drinks (you can’t go wrong with Tito’s and lemonade)!
  • Grey Goose: This premium vodka is synonymous with high-end club nights and bottle service. Using only the highest-quality ingredients, this French vodka is made from winter wheat and spring water. Even though it is popular for bottle service, buying your own bottle for home won’t break the bank: it ranges from $25 to $65 a bottle, depending on the size. 
  • Svedka: Perhaps the most well-known Swedish vodka, Svedka is distilled five times, giving it an extra pure and clean taste. It is made with Swedish winter wheat and goes down smooth. Plus, it comes in tons of unique flavors, like grapefruit jalapeno. Perfect for coming up with your own cocktail recipes. 


Vodka is a great drink. It has been around for hundreds of years, getting its start in Russia and Poland. While we still don’t know exactly how it originated, we do know it has been perfected over the years.

Vodka is low-calorie alcohol that has a very neutral taste. In fact, most simply taste like alcohol, with few hints of flavoring or flavor notes. This makes it the perfect alcohol for mixed drinks and cocktails, as vodka can hold a flavor really well and will not overpower any juices or flavorings added to the drink.

Potato vodka and grain vodka are made with the same four-step process, with their main main differences being their ingredients and flavor. While both are neutral without much flavor, grain vodka is slightly less flavorful than potato vodka. Other than that, they are essentially the same. 


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