Talk:Vodka/Archive 1

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The use of Vodka as a cooking ingredient

This is mostly a chemistry question and might be better asked on the alcohol page but I was wondering why, on a molecular level, vodka blends so well with a traditional tomato sauce (for example in a penne with vodka recipe). I ask here because you rarely see gin or other alcoholic beverages used in such recipes. As an amateur chemist I would guess that the relatively small size and polarity of the ethanol molecules allow them to bond easily with most polar substances including the proteins within a traditional tomato sauce, but I'm still not sure why the flavors blend so well or why vodka would be used at all in such recipes. What, exactly, does the vodka add?

Rhettoric 17:56, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't think that this has anything to do with vodka per se: ethyl alcohol is completely miscible in water in all proportions. Tomato sauce, is after all, mostly water. Gin has its own distinctive flavour, which perhaps does not harmonize as well as vodka with your marinara. I believe it is a gasronomical, ratherer than chemical phenomenon. Try adding some Tanqueray to your spaghetti--you never know, you might like the result after all. --VonWoland 06:17, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Here's what confuses me about "vodka sauce" ... when you cook something with alcohol in it, the alcohol itself volatilizes off. And vodka is very little but alcohol and water ... unlike gin, which has a lot of herbal flavorings. So how does the vodka contribute anything to the sauce? --FOo 19:57, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Some flavors within an ingredient can only be brought out by alcohol, this is why most tomato recipes call for wine. -RobM

Ideal percentage vodka

Is anyone knows how and why Mendeleev determined the ideal percentage of vodka to be 38? Was it based on technology(easy to produce) or some other factors?

    • I am not a scientist - but in laymans terms Mendeleev concluded that the 'OH' group at the end of the ethyl alcohol molecule would bond with two molecules of water. So the molecular ratio of water to alcohol should be 2:1 by weight. In volume terms, as ethyl alcohol has a density of 0.789, this ratio becomes 2 parts water to 1.267 parts alcohol. This equates to 61.2% water and 38.8% ethyl alcohol by volume.


Removed a line about a person named Ehsan. No one knows who this person is. Since he is not accomplished anything famously noteable it is not worth giving him a line in an encyclopedia article.

 "Filtering vodka is a practice familiar to many college students with a lack of funds with which to purchase alcohol
 costing over $10.99 per handle (1.75L)." 

Does this statement really belong in an Encyclopedia?

A great article, but it contains one glaring mistake. In the history, it states:

"The first written record of vodka in Poland dates from 1405 in the Sandomierz Court 
 Registry, and while it is uncertain whether this refers to the drink of today, it would 
 have been potato-based and not grain-based as vodka commonly is today."

Since the potato is native to Peru, and was first introduced into Europe by the Spaniards in the 16th century (remember that America was re-discovered by Columbus in 1492), the preceding statement is a blatant imposibility. While it is true that vodka has and will continue to be made from potatos and many other starch-based consumables, it could not have been made that way until at least a century after the 1405 date of the article. -- torchy

Anyone got a cite for the Arabic-origin claim? It's a new one on me. --Fubar Obfusco

The Arabs invented distillation - the word alcohol is from the Arabic. I don't have a cite but it's a fact. Whether it's relevant in the discussion of particular kinds of liquor, I'm not so sure. zadcat
IIRC alcohol originally meant something like "a purified substance". Our alcohol is their "alcohol of wine," meaning that which is purified from wine. Probably more like brandy or grappa, I'd imagine, than vodka from potatoes or grain. --Fubar Obfusco

After some more research, I'm removing the Arabic origin claim unless anyone can come up with a reference. I've found references for the word "alcohol" being etymologically of Arabic origin, but no sources claiming that vodka is of Arab origin. -- Delirium

  • So unflavored vodka is essentially water, ethanol and nothing more? It doesn't sound so appealing now.
    • correct. But dont cry, you will learn tis not just alcohol and water. You see in the distiollation process you get heads(this gets thrown away) heart(goodstuff) and tails(throw away) from the still, The quality of the vodka depends on 2 things how much of the alcohol coming from the still is part of the heart and how good the water is. The heart is usually the best quality ethanol and its usually around 72 proof. You then mix that with spring water. If you let the tails and head slip in to the mix and then add tap water you get Popov or Skoli or some crap like that, if you add fine spring water, and cold carbon filter the ethanol, you get something Skyy-ish or Absolut-ish.. if you use evian quality mineral water, make sure your alcohol is super cold filtered and pure and add some fancy shmancy story you get Belvedere or Gray Goose. If you then take a piece of grass and let it sit in the vodka you get Zubrovka.. slick, no?Lightning 17:22 20 Jul 2003 (UTC)
      • i think we should add this paragraph to the article! Koliokolio 23:31, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Not quite true. Vodka has to be distilled at 95% or 190 proof. 72 proof could not be legally called Vodka.

What are "side effects" of oil refinery. If it means by-products, then wouldn't vodka be made from "side effects" of refined oil instead of oil refinery?User:Moriori

The following piece is cut out:

<<<In the Russian Empire soldiers were known to have contests involving vodka consumption. Alcoholism has become a major problem in many slavic societies where it is often easier to obtain vodka than food. Alcohol related deaths have also soared in these slavic countries due to overconsumption of vodka. >>>

What about Irish? Japanese? American Indians? Finland? Most countries had their problems with alcohol consumption. It is sad. But better be covered in Alcoholism article or [[Alcoholism in <your favorite country>]] subarticles, in a not so simplistic "slavs are pigs" way. Mikkalai 03:53, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)

It's not very well written, I agree, but no-one said "Slavs are pigs," so let's try to keep feelings out of this. The comment does touch on an important point, that vodka was used as a means of social control in the USSR and other countries, leading in part to the alcoholism rates we see today. In contrast, when Gorbachev tried to stop this, he faced his first major setback.
Another point that should be cleared up is that the article claims there is a trademark for vodka, which there is not. The trademark in question was the use of the phrase "Russian vodka," which is a different matter, especially as the Smirnoffs and others in exile had an arguable claim to the use of the term, as almost the entire Russian vodka industry had gone into exile, and trademark rights were not as well established as they are today. (The EU Protected designation of origin only dates from 1992.) The claim involving Russia was very complicated, as I recall, as Russia's borders had previously included several countries that claimed to be producing "Russian vodka" and the USSR had legally ended trademarking.
Whatever the case, the article isn't very clear, and it includes a couple of what are probably legends. ProhibitOnions 12:26, August 17, 2005 (UTC)

The statement about "zhiznennia voda" is false for surprisingly many reasons. If at least two men will want to know them, I'll type them here. The external link I removed mixes a couple of true facts into otherwise false "history". The whole article doesn't explain what vodka is but being "colorless liquor", which is false, by the way. I will try and rewrite the article piecewise. Mikkalai 07:46, 31 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Earliest Mention of Vodka

"The oldest mention of the name vodka came from the Sandomierz Court Registry in the year 1405. Production of vodka from potatoes began in the 18th century. " 06:53, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I've seen this webpage. The claim is not substantiated. If it were so, Russia would have lost the vodka trademark. Mikkalai 07:36, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Even if it were true, this doesn't give you right to completely remove a huge piece of article. You are free to present the Polish story, but proofs are necessary. I've seen some Poles claim vodka as early as 12th century. Show me the books. Mikkalai 07:41, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
BTW, about "data" fetched from web: "First vodka was mentioned in Vyatsk chronicle in 1174". Beats the Sandomierz, isn't it? :-) Mikkalai 19:08, 28 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Mikkalai, regardless of whether it's true or not (which I believe it is since I've met many Russians and Ukrainians who believe that vodka was re-imported to Russia from Poland), the fact needs mentioning. And remember that the conflict happened in the seventies. In the seventies Poland could not win a football match with the Soviet Union, not to mention a trial...
Oh, and as to the re-import of the very concept of vodka: the story goes like this: Mongols bring the strong alcohol from Central Asia (Arabic influence) to What-Is-Now-Russia. They pay their soldiers with it so the concept gains popularity. Then they move on to Poland, but they fail to conquer it. Anyway, Poles steal huge ammounts of vodka after several battles and like the concept so much that it momentarily gains popularity and Poles start to produce it in huge ammounts. Later on Poles (both Polish armies and Polish merchants) started to bring it to Russia. Note that I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it is more of a legend. However, I like it since I've never heard it in Poland while it is somehow popular in the east.
As to the historical evidence regarding Polish vodka: apart from the abovementioned 1405 Sandomierz chronicle, there are lots of other documents. Most notably:
  • Stefan Falimirz O ziolach i o moczy ich (On herbs and their power), 1534 - first Polish herbal, lists more than 70 kinds of vodka
  • Jurek Potanski Wódka albo gorzalka (Vodka or Burning Water), 1614 - probably the first monography of vodka production and consumption in the world.
  • By 17th century vodka became sort of a national sport, it was cheaper and stronger than all traditional liquors and there is a plethora of sources on this. As a matter of fact most of the chronicles, diaries and memoirs from the time agree with that. Even Sejm chronicles are a good source. For instance in 1643 Polish szlachta agreed to "break the parliament" (or use the liberum veto right). One of the magnates however, brought with him 15 barrels of vodka and the MPs got so drunk that they simply forgot to do so...
  • In the times of Saxonian Dynasty one of the main ways of avoiding the huge economical crisis was a modification of the propination law. It was seen as the main source of income of the crown... According to various chronicles in the 18th century approximately 70% of the income of Konarski family came from propination.
  • And finally, the best sociological and ethnographical source for Poland prior to 19th century: Jedrzej Kitowicz Opis obyczajów za panowania Augusta III (Description of Customs at the Times of Augustus the III), after 1743 - Kitowicz describes the szlachta as a class of alcoholics. For instance, a typical breakfast consisted of coffee, Gdansk vodka and marmelade... If you speak Polish, you can get the full text here * Jakub Szymkiewicz Traktat o pijaństwie (On the Alcoholism), 1818 - the first collection of all known facts about alcoholism and ways to cure it. According to Szymkiewicz, peasants drunk approximately 10 litres of pure spirit a year while in the cities the average consumption was twice as big.Halibutt 13:54, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I have nothing against Polish priority (of dubiuos pride). Notice that my text says nothing to confirm Russian priority. I was against nonchalant deletion of FACTS that merely stated that this guy *attempted* to prove Russian priority, with definiteformal international recognition. I also know some linguistic arguments in favor if Lithuanian priority, if not of the word but of vodka technology that sound plausible. Besides, the facts in the inserted piece, with the exception of Polish reference, are provably wrong. They were taken from a commercial website which didn't bother about factual accuracy. I will try to find correct data about Russia. Mikkalai 16:14, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Jurek Potanski: there is no such Polish name. It was produced in other languages by a common misreading of Połanski, with "ł" misread as "t", which surely couldn't have happpened in Poland. I guess you gained this information from internet, which is of extremely low credibility today. The front page shown here has several indications of forgery.
Stefan Falimirz: Did you lay your hands on the book yourself? I didn't. I have no doubt he describes herbal tinctures based on "spiritus vini", known for quite some time then, but I doubt he uses the word "vodka" or "wodka". Mikkalai 17:04, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
kitowicz: This text says that gorzalka was customary in Russia, Lithuania and Poland (in this order :-), so it may be discarded when spoken about priority. Mikkalai 17:04, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I strongly urge take the issue seriously and look into the earliest original Polish sources whether the term wodka was used in the sense of beverage or as medical tincture, as I described in the article about a Novgorod chronicle entry. Mikkalai 05:00, 27 Feb 2004 (UTC)

There is also a theory of Lithuanian origin of vodka. It is based on vodka technology and lingui

I did not read the book by Falimirz, but I could try to find it in the Archive of Old Acts in Warsaw. Probably they have it. As to Kitowicz- the order of words is rather clear and clearly indicates his attitude. In many parts of his (great) book he writes that most of the bad things in Poland of the time were brought from other countries. For him Polish szlachta became a bunch of drunks because of Ruthenian influences, they became too profit-oriented because of Germans, and so on.
On the other hand the first Russian source mentioned in the article comes from Novgorod, a city that belonged to Lithuania for a short period of time just 50 or so years earlier and even invited king Casimir III and his merchants. This might give us some clue from where the word might've came from :)... I also heard a story (what's interesting - from an Ukrainian Russian) that vodka came to Russia from Poland but through a very strange way. According to the story the vodka was "invented" in Poland. However, it did not became popular and widespread until the Monghols came. They liked it so much that they took the recipe with them and implemented it in their newly-created "state". Then vodka became popular among the serfs and boyars in Russia and came back to Poland through Lithuania some two centuries later. It seems like a legend, but I like it. Halibutt 03:33, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)

List of vodkas

I'd say it's about time to separate List of vodkas into a separate article. Objections? Michael Z.

That would probably be a good idea, considering there's also a List of cocktails -- Sander 15:03, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Done. Michael Z. 2005-02-1 14:29 Z

good article

nice article, the pictures of votka add a nice artistic flourish.

Best Vodka

Grey Goose vodka hands down Stolichnaya close second. nothing else even close to stoly... imho

) Project2501a 00
51, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

HELLO! HELLO! I would expect a bit more harsh treatment for this drink which single-handedly ruined the largest country in the world! You are mostly praising it (purest, this good, that good, no hangover) instead of condemning it in strong terms. Vodka is easily the biggest curse ever seen in history, it makes people drink their brains away and halts all progress or human effort. Why there is no mention of Gorbachev trying to ban it and how the USSR fell apart?

^that is totally subjective, POV "information." Vodka itself is not harmful, people can drink it, (obviously) get wasted, and have fun. Just because it was used as a social control at one point doesnt mean the drink is inherently bad. "Halts all progress?" Unless we, or anyone are getting vodka through I.V., then I don't think that statement is quite correct. Lockeownzj00 00:32, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The story about Gorby trying to ban vodka sounds interesting. Why don't you add that to the article? As to the USSR falling apart, there may have been other contributing causes too, I think. Michael Z. 2005-02-24 00:58 Z

Gorbachev banned the alcoholic beverages (he didn't try to - he did banned it) for exactly the same reasons (in his mind) mentioned above ("biggest curse", "ruining the country", "killing the people"). Grape plantations were cut down, sales of alcohol stopped. TV looped anti alcohol propaganda. The results were as follows: 1) People started to drink home made alcohol (samogon, perfumes etc) which resulted in much more health negative effects. 2) Black market picked up, of course, what was banned with all corresponding effects. 3) Grape - Wine industry was ruined because it takes generations to grow up a successful wine grape sorts. 4) Cultural effects: holidays, celebrations etc just don't fly without alcohol in Russia. 5) There was definitely an economical effect but hard to impossible to quantify.

PS. Alcohol in moderation is actually good for your health. "Alcohol, in any form, favourably alters the balance of fats in the blood and helps to inhibit excessive coagulation or 'stickiness' of the blood. in simple terms alcohol, like aspirin thins the blood. The tannin and colour (phenols and flavonoids) present in wine, beer and ciders in high levels, are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of ' bad' low density lipoproteins into its most noxious form and therefore moderate drinking reduces cholesterol build up, or the hardening of the arteries. Antioxidants also protect, together with alcohol against blood clotting and furthermore enhance the relaxation of blood vessel walls, allowing better blood flow. Alcohol stimulates the liver to produce 'good' high density lipoprotein cholesterol and enhances the process of reverse cholesterol transport - that is the carting off of the 'bad' cholesterol for disposal via the bile."

Uncertain word

In the following passage

In some Central European countries like Poland vodka is being produced by just fermenting a solution of crystal sugar and some nutrious salts for the yeast and distilling this after a few weeks.

I commented out the word "nutrious," not knowing whether this was a misspelling of "nutritious" or "nitrous" or what. I trust someone more familiar with vodka production to correct it. Lusanaherandraton 02:09, 29 October 2005 (UTC)


Does this deserve to be a top level section? Is there any truth to the statement "filtering vodka is a practice familiar to many college students". A popular, fast-spreading blog entry ( about filtering Vodka with a Brita was written last year. That was the first and only time that I've heard of this practice.

Brand differences; everclear?

As I understand it, Vodka is essentially pure ethanol and water. I have two questions:

1. Does this mean Everclear could be dilluted from 95%ABV down to 40%ABV and seriously called Vodka?
2. How is it that different vodkas taste different? Why do cheap plastic-bottle vodkasis tend to be harsher than the majority of "good" vodkas, which tend to be "smoother"?

Any ideas? —BenFrantzDale 01:14, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

1. Yes.
2. There is the starting mash, the still type, the filtration methods and pack, and the quality of the water (both starting and dilution water), all of which have impact on a vodka's final quality. That last 5% out of the still that isn't ethanol can carry a lot of character. (There are also a lot of chemical aromatics contained in a plastic bottle that may or may not be tasteable in an otherwise tasteless fluid, as well as the fact that alcohol can leach more of these aromatics out than plain bottled water can.) —
Interesting. While a purist would balk at the idea, it seems, then, that an optimally-palletable "vodka" could be made by dilluting nearly-pure ethanol down to 40%ABV with good water, then perhaps adding trace flavors to smooth out the taste. (I'm no chemist; I don't know what one might add to "smooth out" taste, but I imagine it would be possible.) It seems like something like this could be created inexpensively and taste better than rot-gut vodka. That is, it would be perfect for the college market. Since, to my knowledge, such a product does not exist even though the inexpensive-but-palletable market certainly does exist, I suspect I'm missing something. Why doesn't such a product exist? —BenFrantzDale 21:35, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Distilling ethanol to beyond 95% purity is extremely difficult and not cost effective for commercial production. If I recall correctly, at 95% purity, ethanol becomes extremely hydrophilic and requires a different process to remove any more water. So we're left with choices of base stocks (the mash and the water) and distilling and filtering techniques to differentiate the product. Good choices here reduce the impurites, or insure that the impurities remaining are pleasing to the palate. Since not all trace impurities are undesirable, finding inputs that give good results is the task of both master distillers and expert chemists. This is why we have different grades of vodka.
(See azeotrope to learn about the limit of how much water you can remove by distillation.)
Typically, rot-gut vodka doesn't go through the still as many times, so far fewer impurities are removed. It's also processed on a cheaper still (in both price and operating costs) that doesn't have internal plate filters. Cheap vodka is also usually unfiltered; but if it is filtered at all, it's treated with a shorter filtration process, or the filters aren't refreshed and/or cleaned as often. Each trip through the still costs money, and obviously the same goes for filtration. (This is why running cheap vodka through a Brita water filter results in a far better product, and results in less severe hangovers.)

Differences in taste between Vodkas

I'd like to delete that section of the article - I thought I'd ask here first to see if there are any objections. As the article itself notes, the 20/20 experiment is obviously unscientific. Given that we cant actually conclude anything from the experiment, its not clear what the encyclopedic value of reporting it is. What does it tell the reader about Vodka? Well, nothing - only that 20/20 picked five people who are into grey goose. --Pierremenard 03:37, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

It is unscientific, but (a) the experiment did take place, hence info about it is encyclopedic (b) results were somewhat surprising, hence there is something useful even in "non-scientific" experiment. (c) what does it tell? well, it tells that you did not read carefully :-) : c1: the five people who were into grey goose did not know what they were really into; c2: you may be easily cheated (especially when you drink vodka). (d) When someone carries a "scientific" experiment, we may happily throw this one out. mikka (t) 05:17, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
(a) Merely because something took place does not mean it belongs in an encyclopedia. (b) An experiment with a sample value of 6 has such a large degree of randomness that, surprising or not, the results are not worth much. Especially given that you don't know how these six people were selected in the first place - perhaps they were selected in a way that would bias the results. The point is we don't know, and as such, the results should not mean much to the reader. (c) My original question was: what does this tell the reader of the article about vodka? I don't see that it tells him anything at all - only that 20/20 selected six people is some unknown way that resulted in five of them being grey goose lovers - I did not state that the people knew they were expressing a preference for grey goose(d) At that point of time - when someone does such a study - we can debate inclusion of that into the article. As of now, however, we must decide whether THIS piece of information belongs in an entry about Vodka. Merely because in a future situation we would throw this out for some other reason is irrelevant to the question of what to do here and now.
As of know, that section reads poorly: there is a long paragraph on an experiment, followed by a sentence (which, by the way, reads like original research to me) that says that the previous paragraph is meaningless. --Pierremenard 14:17, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
Science! [1] Science pole! (we couldn’t find a pole, so we used a broom) ("Are you insane, Frink? Put down that science pole!") :) - FrancisTyers 20:24, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
I agree this section should be deleted. Any non-scientific experiment says absolutely nothing about the subject. I don't think it is responsible for Wikipedia, or for that matter 20/20, to use such useless information. Anyone who has a background in research will realilze this.

I agree that it should be deleted, if only for the fact that the author of the latter portions of this section has a very blatant agenda - he's out to get the casual drinker who doesn't have the time, money, or (frankly) inclination to become a vodka "expert." I've no issue with reporting on a study done by 20/20, if it elucidates the reader, but the reader ought not come away from the section feeling inferior for not caring whether their appletini (in my opinion, a crime against alcohol - but that's MY OPINION, and I frankly don't care what other people drink) is made with Mr. Boston or Ketel 1. If the section must be included, then it should be rewritten, but if this is the best we can do, then it ought to be stricken. I'd go for the rewrite myself, but not having seen the segment in question, I'm not about to try to report on what someone else says they saw on television - a tricky proposition at the best of times and downright dangerous at the worst. -L. Greenway, Macon, GA

I agree that the unscientific nature of the 20/20 segment makes the information useless for an encyclopedia article. Since that seems to be the consensus, I'll remove it. -fosterd2


The following piece removed from the paragraph about danges of moonshine, due to contradictory text.

Methanol, however, boils at a higher temperature in mixture (see azeotrope diagrams) than ethanol (or ethyl alcohol, to which the broad term 'alcohol' is applied); thus methanol is often referred to as the "tails." (This is not the case, methanol boils off at approximatly 65 degrees celcius, and comes off the still before the heads in the foreshot, and certainly before the ethanol at 77 degrees celcius. Instead the tails consist of the higher 'fusil' alcohols which are avoided because of their nasty smell and taste) By controlling the temperature of the mash, methanol can be successfully excluded from the final product.

Expert alcoholics, please clarify. mikka (t) 22:44, 14 March 2006 (UTC)


I've got nothing against the picture of Chopin vodka on the page, but as it's the only one, and is quite big, it looks like advertising. How about we add 5-6 other pictures of (bottles of) other vodkas to show some of the varieties of the drink? ProhibitOnions 18:15, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

The Etymology of the word Vodka

I question the explanation for the etymology of the word VODKA in the following passage:

Vodka is a typically colorless liquor, usually distilled from fermented grain. It is commonly thought that the term is a diminutive of the Slavic word "voda" (woda, вода) for "water", thus, vodka can be translated as "little water".

If the article connects the etymology of the word as the Slavic "diminutive" for water, then I believe the statment is incorrect. In Polish, woda is the exact equivalent of the English water. There is no "diminutive" connotation in the Polish between the words wódka (vodka) to woda (water) that I am aware of. Therefore, the overarching word "Slavic" is misleading. However, in Polish slang there is a play-on-words were persons refer to wódka (vodka) as woda (water). Nonetheless, I believe there is a connection, in Russian, of vodka being the diminutive of water. Could other Polish, Russian and other Slavic speakers confirm this? --Patpecz 21:50, 7 February 2006 (UTC) Yes. In Slovenian, vodka is clearly sweet/kind/small voda. If muca is kat, mucka is kitten.

Yes. In Slovenian, vodka is clearly sweet/kind/small voda. If muca is kat, mucka is kitten.

-In Russian "vodka" is not diminutive of "voda" (water). Diminutive would be "vodichka" or less likely "vodica". In this case word "vodka" can more likely be inperpreted as "something similar to water", because the words are similar, but definetly not like "small water".

This explanation is most often repeated. I disagree with it as well, but wikipedia is not in business of "correcting" something. We may only present published opinions. I added a pretty much substantiated explanation given by Pokhlebkin. `'mikka (t) 19:45, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

AFAIK, the diminutive explanation is still the one most widely believed to be correct. In out explanation, "Slavic" doesn't refer to the modern languages, but to one, or more, of the medieval or earlier Slavic languages in which the term "vodka" arose, in which the term probably was used as a diminuitive of water (this is also pretty much the origin of "whisky"). This should be clear from the context, as the term is not a recent coinage.
That "vodka" may have lost the diminuitive connotation in certain modern languages (through the familiarity of the term vodka by itself and the consequent dissociation from the term's origins), doesn't mean that the etymology is incorrect. -ka is still a diminuitive or feminine marker in pretty much all Slavic languages today. ProhibitOnions 12:29, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Maybe it would be better to explain this situation then. Because simply stating 'vodka' = diminutive if 'voda' is WRONG. Its not nice to state wrong things where people expect to find true things :)

The "natural pronunciation" reference is incorrect. In Russian, "водка" is pronounced with a stress on the first syllable, just like in English or Belarusian: VOD-kah (see e.g. Thus the conclusion as to the Belarusian origins of the term is baseless and the entire paragraph should be removed, unless I'm missing something.

Yes you are missing something. Try looking up the pronounciation of Voda. As you will know, the pronounciation of voda in Russian and the pronounciation of voda in Belarussian is quite different. In Russian vod-a and in Belarussian vod-a. Therefore, if the name vodka does come from the diminutive or voda, only the Belarussian pronounciation would give the current accepted emphasis on the vod rather than the ka.

The accent on the penultimate syllable is natural for Polish, by the way. 06:41, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, actually "wódka" in Polish is exactly the diminuitive of "woda" just like głowa/główka, sowa/sówka, krowa/krówka, broda/bródka etc. Only that this word started to live on its own in the meaning of vodka, so actually we don't have any diminuitive for "little water" now. What is of course unusual as otherwise we have diminuitves for everything. But since the word is currupt for vodka, we'd have to say "mała woda" meaning little water.--SylwiaS | talk 03:10, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, the word formation, stress and so, seems typically Polish. However, the difficulty may be the "ó" - if the word was imported to Russian (where there is "o" at the same place), it must have occurred before the long vowel has shifted to be "u". By the way, I believe that the word "wódka" is somewhere attested in its literal meaning of "little water"; it must be, because an old Polish-Latin dictionary I own renders it in Latin as "rivulus" for the first meaning, and this means "a small stream of water". 06:41, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

So the "official" etymology is "little water"? Then the first section ("Etymology") must be removed or rewritten, for it contradicts the introduction! --Alexander Ivashkin 05:50, 23 April 2007 (UTC)


you can make vodka out of everything, not only potatos and grain. didn`t you ever wonder why some home-made vodkas taste like petrol? maybe this is possible only in poland? a miraculous transformation? ;p [dzid]

Straw rum?

"Similarly, the German market often carries German-/Hungarian-/Polish-/Ukrainian- made varieties of vodka of 90 to 95% alcohol content (as well as straw rum of the same potency)".

Surely, it should be spelt Stroh/Ströh Rum? 18:44, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

The article said that the moonshiner produced from turbo yeast yields 1ppm of methanol (bullshit if you ask me). Commercial wisky have about 20ppm (see Thus, the super-moonshiner has 1/20 of the wisky methanol not 1/100,000. If the methanol in whisley would ne 1e5 ppm=10%, then it would make you permanently blind by the very first drink. abakharev 05:55, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

There is no trademark for vodka

I've removed the following passage, added by User:Mikkalai in March:

The second half of the 1970s witnessed two massive attacks on the priority and rights of the Soviet Union to market liquors named "vodka". The first assault was along the lines that the Russian Revolution "discontinued" Russia's trademark for vodka, which was "naturally" transferred to emigrated manufacturers of vodka, Smirnoff in particular, because of prohibition by Soviets, so that officially the Soviet Union started manufacturing vodka in 1923. This was refuted fairly easily. The second assault, around 1977, by Poland, was more serious, and the Soviet Union undertook the historical research to substantiate Russia's priority, which was completed by 1979, and in 1982 the international arbitrage considered it convincing enough to grant the USSR the priority in vodka as Russian original alcoholic beverage and recognised the Soviet trademark motto "Only vodka from Russia is genuine Russian vodka". The author of the research published his findings under the alias William Pokhlebkin in the book A History of Vodka (see references below). Despite the clear bias of the exposition in the book towards the goal (to prove the Russian priority), it is a serious, substantiated research and reveals quite a few facts, as well as debunks a number of myths, on the origins of vodka, both as product and as name. After the collapse of the Soviet Union all Russian vodka distilleries (Most famous is Red October) were privatized amidst some criminal activity.

As mentioned in previous discussions, this isn't true; the facts of the case may have evolved into an urban legend in Russia. There is no "trademark" for vodka, nor was the Soviet Union ever restricted from marketing "liquors named 'vodka.'" The dispute was about the term "Russian vodka," an entirely different matter. Furthermore, this passage asserts that the USSR had "priority and rights" where this was a matter of dispute, and that one side's position was "refuted," another's "assault" was "more serious"; a book is "clearly biased," etc. The passage itself includes the phrase "Only vodka from Russia is genuine Russian vodka," which should make it clear that the term "vodka" was never in dispute, only the right of others (significantly, Russians in exile and producers in former parts of the Russian empire) to market a product as "Russian vodka," and the case was far from clear-cut, hence the international arbitration. In the end, it was indeed decided that "Russian vodka" meant vodka produced within the borders of the USSR, hence the slogan introduced by the USSR's liquor export authorities to emphasize this. Note that the USSR allowed this phrase on Soviet vodka produced outside the RSFSR, and there are again disputes over its use, along with the ownership of several brands (such as Stolichnaya) produced in various former Soviet republics.

But, I reiterate, the term "vodka" has never been in dispute, can be produced anywhere, and is a generic term, not a trademark; no producer, including the Soviet Union, was ever prohibited from using it. It was not a trademark issue, but a regional-designation issue. It should be noted that the Soviets were less than scrupulous adherents of this rule in other cases; while "champagne" can only be produced in that region of France, and producers elsewhere must make do with "sec," "Sekt," or "sparking wine," shampanskoye was produced under that name throughout the USSR.

As I mentioned above, "the Smirnoffs and others in exile had an arguable claim to the use of the term, as almost the entire Russian vodka industry had gone into exile, and trademark rights were not as well established as they are today. (The EU Protected designation of origin only dates from 1992.) The claim involving Russia was very complicated, as I recall, as Russia's borders had previously included several countries that claimed to be producing "Russian vodka" and the USSR had legally ended trademarking."

If this dispute is noteworthy, it should be rewritten to reflect what actually happened. However, as the dispute was about the term "Russian" not the term "vodka" it seems somewhat irrelevant here, although it might be appropriate to the Protected designation of origin article.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 10:20, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Two thumbs up, PO. Now that you mention Soviet wines, an interesting fact is that most of the traditional French and Italian wines produced in the former USSR under their original (usually restricted) names are in fact more original than their counterparts. Remember the phylloxera epidemics? It never reached Russia (closed borders have some pros apparently), while at the same time it almost exterminated all the wineyards in France, Italy and partially in Spain. That's why roots had to be re-imported from Greece, Russia, Austria and so on. (I personally prefer Ukrainian cabernet to that from France, not to mention Chile, Argentina or California, God spare me). But this is of course OT here. //Halibutt 12:05, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I cannot find the reference to confirm, but I believe that a Russian Champagne won the Grand Prix in Paris in 1900. The French maybe considered then that Champagne referred to the method of production, not to the region of production.
Interesting. Just goes to show people used to be a lot less picky about such things; and the story sounds plausible - I happen to think even the cheaper Belarusian shampanskoye varieties are at least as good as the likes of Freixenet. (And Halibutt is right, Ukrainian wine is, or can be, great, and French wine is really California.) BTW, please do sign your comments with four tildes (~~~~), so we know who you are. Regards,  ProhibitOnions  (T) 17:43, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
A standard business strategy (among others) taught in business schools is to simply legislate your competition out of business. Rklawton 17:57, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Very good point. BTW, I noticed that the same user has readded the paragraph in question again, without any changes. I've removed it once more, but ask those of you who are interested in the GA nomination to make sure this kind of polemical nonsense stays out of the article. Sigh.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 20:13, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Deletion made based on someone's personal convictions is reverted. My text is based on the book mentioned. if you don't like it, get some proof before badmouthing someone's else contributions.
Also very nice of you to pull a red herring across your trails. The disputed piece does not claim that there is a trademark for vodka or wodka. `'mikka (t) 21:04, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
No, you did in the passage. Which is why I removed it. The other problems with the passage are stated above.  ProhibitOnions  (T)

The paragraph restored. It is based on a published and translated book. Your accusations are ridiculous. The paragraph does not say that there is a trademark of vodka. The paragraph describes events. If the description is incorrect, find a better one. Otherwise it is nothing but your bad will. `'mikka (t) 20:22, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

I've removed your screed once again, as it (and your name-calling above) does little credit to either you or the article as a whole. The passage as you wrote it uses phrases such as
The first assault was along the lines that the Russian Revolution "discontinued" Russia's trademark for vodka
So there we have it, "Russia's trademark for vodka." The passage does indeed say there is a "trademark for vodka," and that it somehow belongs to Russia (we'll leave the conflation of Russia and the Soviet Union aside here; as a Belarusian you presumably know the difference).
massive attacks on the priority and rights of the Soviet Union to market liquors named "vodka".
So, you are indeed claiming that the right to use the word "vodka" was somehow endangered; in other words, it was trademarked. And in what way is phrasing such as "massive attack" supposed to be NPOV? That may be your opinion but it is not neutral reporting of both sides of an issue. (And what are "priority and rights" in a commercial setting?) And further, you wrote:
The Soviet Union undertook the historical research to substantiate Russia's priority
There's that strange word "priority" again. But in an arbitration setting, you are taking sides, which is not Wikipedia. Presumably the other parties also undertook "historical research to substantiate their priority." Why isn't that mentioned? Why do you rely on a single source clearly written from a biased point of view to present only one side in a dispute?
The international arbitrage considered it convincing enough to grant the USSR the priority in vodka as Russian original alcoholic beverage and recognised the Soviet trademark motto "Only vodka from Russia is genuine Russian vodka".
The sentence barely makes any sense at all in English, and suggests to me you didn't really understand what the dispute was about: the phrase "Russian vodka," which had been used by a number of producers who had originally produced vodka in Russia, such as the Smirnoffs and the Gorbatchows. If you had read the previous discussion, and my remarks, I have twice pointed out that this is an entirely separate issue from a non-existent "trademark for vodka." Did "Russian vodka" mean vodka from the geographical entity in its present boundaries, or did it refer to a specific kind of vodka originating in Russia? This issue was far from clear, and the existence of numerous similar geographic-designation disputes suggests that such matters seldom are. Kindly read through the prior discussion, it will be helpful for you to understand others' objections.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 21:49, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Your objections are irrelevant, since the deleted section is a summary of the introduction to the book. Yes, the issue is far from clear and no, there is no beverage called "Russian vodka" and no there is no trademark for "vodka" and no, the deleted piece does not claim that it exists. `'mikka (t) 01:14, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Again, though, this is an obscure book commissioned by the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union to claim that the nasty "capitalists" want to take the word "vodka" away from "us". Don't you think a "source" like this should be treated with, you know, a certain amount of circumspection? Do you really think that "massive attack" and "assault" are Wikipedia words? Do you think you can continue to claim "there is no trademark for 'vodka'" (as you just did) while adding a passage that refers to "Russia's trademark for vodka"? Did no one outside Russia make "vodka" before 1917? That's what your passage seems to claim. Think about it.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 07:50, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

The second assault, around 1977, by Poland, was more serious, and the Soviet Union undertook the historical research to substantiate Russia's priority, which was completed by 1979, and in 1982 the international arbitrage considered it convincing enough to grant the USSR the trademark motto "Only vodka from Russia is genuine Russian vodka". I have to say that this section makes absolutely no sense to me. What was this "assault on Russian vodka" by Poland, exactly? Did Poland actually want to claim exclusive rights to produce "Russian vodka", as the sentence implies? I find that implausible, to say the least. And what the heck does "Russia's priority" mean in practice? That Russian vodka is placed higher on a supermarket shelf? Anyway, using the expression "assault" here is of course completely POV. I will not revert you, since fighting a revert war with an admin as a normal user is rather pointless. But please consider rewording this text somehow so it makes some sense. I understand how the story about "Poland trying to take away vodka from Russia" makes a juicy urban legend, but Wikipedia should not parrot such legends unquestioningly. Balcer 07:52, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
This was written in a book. I strongly suggest you to find it in a library and read it. It is a very interesting reading even without this Soviet/Poland vodka dispute. I may e.g., point out that the book is seriously taken by other western vodka book writers, such as Desmond Begg, Vodka Companion, A Connoisseur’s Guidebook It, in particular adds some details not mentioned in Pokhlebkin's book: "the Polish state liquor monopoly (Polmos) sued the Soviet state liquor monopoly, charging that vodka was created in areas under Polish control at the time i.e. what we now recognize as Belarus, and therefore only Polish products could be called vodkas.", which I see as an independent confirmation. So rather than stubbornly standing "this is all bullshit", why don't you do some research? `'mikka (t) 16:35, 31 August 2006 (UTC) "Piję by paść, padam by wstać, wstaję by pić, piję by żyć"

Removed misleading paragraph on Etymology

I will remove a misleading paragraph in the section on Etymology. The paragraph states that Russian pronunciation of Vodka is vod-ka while Belorussian is vod-ka. This is utter nonsense. Both Russian and Belorussian pronunciations are exactly the same, with the stress on the first syllable. 16:25, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Good Article nomination - comments

Some comments regarding the GA nomination and the GA criteria at WP:WIAGA:

"1(a) it has compelling prose, and is readily comprehensible to non-specialist readers;" - I'd agree with this, except for the "Vodka and the EU" section. I think it would read better as "Vodka producers in Finland, Poland and Sweden are campaigning for EU legislation that will Any drink then not made from either grain or potatoes would then have to be labeled as "Spirit Drinks" instead. Brands that would be affected if the law is passed include Ciroc, Moskova and Kirov" with the sub-heading and list deleted.

1b,d seem OK. For 1c see 6a. 2a,c,d seem OK, although I don't have access to the references.

"2(b) the citation of its sources is essential, and the use of inline citations is desirable, although not mandatory;" - Sources have been cited but inline citations are not used (save for one case in the history section). It won't fail GA as a result, but inline citations (footnotes) are preferred to make it easier to verify things.

3,4 seem OK

"5. It is stable, i.e. it does not change significantly from day to day and is not the subject of ongoing edit wars. This does not apply to vandalism and protection or semi-protection as a result of vandalism, or proposals to split/merge the article content." I'm looking at "There is no trademark for vodka" discussion above on the talk page, last comment written yesterday. Seems there are some problems with this.

"6(a) the images are tagged and have succinct and descriptive captions;" also from the Manual of Style "Use captions to explain the relevance of the image to the article." - Zodiac Vodka's caption isn't descriptive. Also I'm not sure all three bottles are needed, is there something the makes one bottle of vodka different from the next? The Manual of Style suggests "If there are too many images in a given article, consider using a gallery."

Hope this is of some help! Alexj2002 21:08, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

I noticed you've added a gallery so I've struckout point six above. However looking at the talk-page and edit history there appears to be an edit war going on, which means the article fails criteria 5 (i.e. it is not stable). I'm therefore going to fail the article for the moment. Once the article becomes stable again, the article can be resubmitted. Alexj2002 16:50, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Misleading section

I don't know about Grand Duchy of Lithuania and other such matters, but if you mean that in Russian vodka is pronounced vod-ka, with the stress on ka, then you are obviously wrong. This is utter nonsense. In Russian vodka is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. And anyway, I don't see how a mere difference in stress or accent can give "the best clue to the origins of vodka and its name". I will remove this passage again, as it is misleading. 19:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Why don't you, then, follow the links and do some research into the Grand Duchy, its history, geography and the use of Belarussian as official written language BEFORE you vandalise?
  • The word vodka originated somewhere, you will agree, and pronounciation can often give a good lead as to the origin of a word. The sentence that concerns you began 'This MAY give the best clue' - I don't think it is a clue that should be overlooked.
  • There is the geography of the area to consider as well. Between Poland and Western Russia lies Belarus - bang in the middle of the region considered to be the most likely origin of vodka. Minsk, the capital lays on a long established trading corridor between Moscow and Poland. If vodka has a 600 year old history, then in 1386 most of this area was in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Here is some reading (and maps) for you to consider:



  • Are you Russian, Polish or Belarussian? My wife is Ukranian and a linguist, having qualifications in Russian, Polish and Belarussian, plus her native language, English and Hungarian.
  • The natural pronunciation referred to is taken from how 'water' is pronounced in all three languages and then applying the diminutive 'ka' instead of 'da'.
  • In Russian water is vod-a - hence the natural (not the actual, current) pronounciation would be vod-ka
  • In Belarussian water it pronounced vod-a - hence the pronunciation would naturally be vod-ka
  • So, now convince me that you know what you are talking about and my wife doesn't. Also, please identify yourself.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 2006-08-24T10:55:45 (UTC)


  • First of all, in Russian the word "vodka" is pronounced "vod-ka", with the stress on the first syllable, exactly as in English, German, and all other languages. No Russian will ever say vodka with the stress on the last syllable. And the fact that voda is pronounced with the stress on "a" absolutely does not mean that vodka should also have the stress on the last syllable. In fact adding "ka" always shifts the stress, for example "trava" ("grass") -- "travka" ("little grass"), "strela" (arrow) -- "strelka" (little arrow) etc. (And please bear in mind that "vodka" is not the actual diminutive of "voda".) In absolutely no sense can "vod-ka" be said to be the "natural" pronounciation of that word, it simply isn't.
  • In fact no word in Russian with the diminutive suffix "ka" has stress on that (last) syllable.
  • If you're still unconvinced, check the Russian wiktionary entry on the word водка. Check any Russian dictionary, or any English-Russian dictionary, you'll see that the stress is on the first syllable.
  • And lastly, your whole argument does not make any sense. Suppose Russians and Belorussians really pronounced the word in different ways (which I don't adimit), with the stress on different syllables, how can it possibly say anything about the origin of the word? Why do you think that your "Belorussian" pronounciation gives any clue about the origin, simply because you think it is closer to the English one?
  • Summarising, if you have any reliable, well-referenced information on why the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is important in the history of vodka, you can insert that information somewhere, but please do not put nonsensical things such that the Russian pronounciation is "vod-ka". This is simply not true.

-- 23:08, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

  • You are missing the point. Today the pronounciation of vodka in Russian is of course as you say. But please show me some referenced information that this was the pronounciation 600 years ago. I notice that you haven't questioned the assertion (not by me) that vodka did not appear in Russian dictionaries until the mid 19th century.
  • The second point you are missing is that in 1405 any written reference in a the Sandomierz court paper would have been made in Belarussian, as the official written language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at this time was Belarussian. This would imply that in 1405 vodka was a word commonly used, at least in legal documents, in the Belarussian language whereas it is recorded that the first written use of the word in official Russian documents was in 1751.
  • Now you can either dismiss the above as rubbish, which will for me sum up your position on this, or come back with references that support the fact that the 1405 court document was written in a language other than the official language of the day.

I do not doubt your historical and geographical knowledge, and if you say that the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1405 was Belarussian then I am quite ready to accept that. If you have a well-referenced information about the word "vodka" being used in legal documents in Belarussian in 1405, you are welcome to insert that information somewhere. Again, if you have a well-referenced information on the fact that that word is only used first in Russian in 1751, please insert that information somewhere. Indeed if the word is used first in Russian only as late as you say, this would give some credence to the theory that vodka originated in Belorussia, if that's your contention. However I should point out that this has nothing to do with the pronounciation. I was never against your mentioning the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. What I really took offence at was your statement that "Russian pronounciation of vodka is vod-ka". This statement is simply not true. I can give you lots of examples when the stress is shifted when you add the diminutive suffix "ka": golova (head) -- golovka, truba (pipe) -- trubka, stena (wall) -- stenka, pila (saw) -- pilka etc. Sometimes there is a slight change in some letters in the stem, for example: ruka (hand) -- ruchka, reka (river) -- rechka, sleza (tear) -- slyozka, metla (broom) -- metyolka etc. I can go on like that forever. This shows that this shifting of stress is an absolutely natural thing in Russian language.
Summarising, if you have information on why vodka originated in Belarussia, or that the word "vodka" is older in Belarussian than in Russian, then by all means write that somewhere, but please do not base your arguments on pronounciation, and especially do not put wrong statements, such that Russian pronounciation of vodka is "vod-ka". That is just not true. Such things undremine the credibility of this article and of Wikipedia as a whole. 21:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Another point: please log in before you edit, since you apparently have an account; please sign your comments using four tildes (then it's easier to identify who's talking), and consider using "show preview" button, rather than doing multiple saves. Cheers, 21:26, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Once again (and you can look at the history) I NEVER wrote "The Russian pronounciation of vodka is vod-ka." - you are quoting only part of what I wrote and therefore changing the essence of the statement by mis-quoting me. On your last point - you know who I am - but you insist on your own anonimity for some reason. Why is that? 09:39, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, not really wanting to participate in this discussion, but are you sure you're talking about Sandomierz?--SylwiaS | talk 02:50, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

: Na zdarovye — "To your health!"

Enjoy! . `'mikka (t) 16:28, 31 August 2006 (UTC)]

Your point, exactly? He's relying on the same book you are (and using no other sources, which is bad journalism). There are a few other places on the web where you will also find this story, all of them deriving it from this book. The book wouldn't become more true if 100 other people quoted it; as I mentioned elsewhere, urban legends can be persistent (especially if they are propagated by the state and play on a country's sense of patriotism and victimhood, as in this case). Look at Ich bin ein Berliner; the urban legend is utter nonsense, with nothing to support it, but many people seem to think "there must be something to it" because they have heard it so many times.
Interestingly, other "sources" expand on this legend to blame the evil Americans [2]:
It is hard even to imagine that vodka could have a non-Russian origin. However, a while back Americans suddenly claimed that they alone had the right to use the word "vodka" since they had been producing vodka earlier than the USSR. Had they won, our Stolichnaya would not have become the world's most popular brand of alcohol: it could not have been advertised. But justice was done: a 1982 ruling of the international court of arbitration recognized Russia officially as the country where vodka was invented.
While others pile on the nationalism [3]:
In 1982 by the decision of the international arbitration court the priority of creation of vodka as a Russian original alcoholic drink and exclusive right to its advertising under this name in the world market were undoubtedly fixed to the USSR. The Poles and the Americans have left their last claims on superiority in vodka production, when the world community accepted the basic Soviet export-advertising slogan: "Only vodka from Russia is genuine Russian vodka".
Yet even here, in this badly written passage, the phrase "Russian vodka" emerges, which I think is the origin of this legend; I have written to the Permanent Court of Arbitration [4] for confirmation.
And finally, you may have noticed that vodka is still produced in many other countries besides Russia, which would not be the case if an "exclusive right" to the term "vodka" had really been granted to the Soviet Union.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 12:23, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Please stop twisting my words and misquoting the article. It does not say that "exclusive right" to the term "vodka" is granted to Soviet Union. Your "urban legend" line: urban legends are usually debunked. Can you debunk this one? Once again: I have my source, much as you dislike it. If you can prove it is false, by all means. Until then the text stays. Your suspicion that it is an "urban legend" is not a valid reference in wikipedia. `'mikka (t) 15:50, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I have quoted neither you nor the article here. Your source is dubious, and the passage you wrote takes sides ("massive assault," etc.). Even if this were an accurate account of the matter (which, given the nature of Soviet propaganda, we have serious grounds to doubt), there are two sides to every dispute, and you have failed to seek out what the other side had to say. That is neither NPOV (remember, "neutral") nor encyclopedic.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 17:04, 6 September 2006 (UTC)


Just a remark to those who wold be interested in history:

In all these discussions about vodka origin two things must be clearly distinguished.

  • The emergence of the word "vodka"
  • The emergence of an alcoholic beverage produced by distilling rye/wheat grains, known as "bread wine".
  • I would love to see what was exactly written in Sandomierz Court Registry of 1405. Every Pole loves to mention it, but I failed to find any quotation.

`'mikka (t) 16:28, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I would love to hear from you some explanation about what exactly (or even in rough outline) was the nature of the dispute over the vodka trademark between Poland and USSR in 1977. Balcer 16:44, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
There is no more Soviet Union. Why don't you Poles query Polmos? Will they deny? `'mikka (t) 17:06, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Whoa, it is you who is trying to insert this information, hence it's your job to provide valid references and explain your case. By your argument, we could insert a claim into Wikipedia that Bill Clinton is a Martian, and then keep it pending his official denial. Balcer 17:28, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Whoa back. I provided my reference. It is you who is insisting that everything what is "made in the USSSR" is a falsehood. `'mikka (t) 09:47, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
So shall we start relying on backissues of Pravda as well?  ProhibitOnions  (T) 17:11, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I think I will no longer discuss the topic with you until you start talking your references, not mine. `'mikka (t) 17:35, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Quotations, for further search


Najstarsze informacje dotyczące słowa „wódka” pochodzą z 1405 r. i 1437 r., z zapisków sądowych województwa sandomierskiego, a także z akt Grodzkich i Ziemskich z czasów Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej, z archiwum tzw. Bernardyńskiego we Lwowie. W XV wieku słowo „wódka” używane było na ówczesnych terenach Polski, do oznaczania kosmetyków i lekarstw, a na przełomie XV i XVI wieku również jako trunek alkoholowy na równi z nazwą gorzałka.
O tym, że słowo „wódka” i technologia jej produkcji pochodzą z Polski z XV i XVI wieku, a nie z Rosji świadczą również opracowania rosyjskich historyków i etymologów ( Żukow J.M.: Historia Powszechna, Akad. Nauk ZSRR,1966, t. III oraz Szanskij I. M., Iwanow W. W., Szanskaja T. W.: Kratkij etymologiczeskij słowar russkowo języka, Moskwa, 1971). Słowo wódka, a także technologia produkcji dotarły do Rosji z Polski w XVI wieku, dzięki kupcom rosyjskim dokonującym wymiany towarowej z kupcami polskimi. Pierwszy raz słowo „wódka” (pisane cyrylicą) notowane jest w rosyjskich zapisach w 1533 r. – w znaczeniu nalewki medycznej, a w 1649 r. w znaczeniu napoju alkoholowego, a więc co najmniej 150 lat później niż notują to słowo najstarsze polskie źródła językowe.

`'mikka (t) 17:13, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I really don't care who invented Vodka, so please excuse me from this debate. But I am intrigued about the "Polish assault on vodka" in 1977. Could you provide any additional information on it? Balcer 17:26, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I think he's referring to the lawsuit filed by the Polish vodka monopoly. It's in the newspaper article he linked to in the "To your health" section. Appleseed (Talk) 17:22, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I saw that article but I must say I do not find it very credible. It appears to be an opinion piece and is not an example of serious research on the topic. If there was a serious lawsuit, it should be possible to find very precise information as to: which court it was submitted to, what was its case identifier, what was the ruling etc, especially since such a lawsuit would have affected quite a number of countries producing vodka (Sweden and Finland spring to mind). Instead, searching the web brings various versions of the lawsuit story, but no solid information. This looks like a picture perfect candidate for an urban legend. In my opinion there might have been some lawsuit, but I find it hard to believe that Poland (or Polmos) was really seriously trying to ban the use of the product name "vodka" except for vodka made in Poland. My guess is that the truth is more complicated and less drastic.
In short, I hope we are not in a situation descrited by an old Soviet joke:Balcer 17:44, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
   *  Q: Is it true that Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov from Moscow won a car in a lottery?
   * A: In principle yes, but:
        1. it wasn't Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov but Aleksander Aleksandrovich Aleksandrov;
        2. he is not from Moscow but from Odessa;
        3. it was not a car but a bicycle;
        4. he didn't win it, but it was stolen from him.

I think this sums things up rather well...  ProhibitOnions  (T) 17:10, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Haha very funny. Way to go in academic discussions. Shall I add a couple jokes about "pan Przyprzycki a pan Szczebrzeszynski" who entered a gorzalka-guzzling contest? `'mikka (t) 17:35, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Please do, if they are any good and illustrate a useful point. Balcer 17:38, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Yep, and get myself banished for Polonophobia. `'mikka (t) 17:51, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Even if it is an urban legend, since it is spreading, it is still notable. If "the truth is more complicated and less drastic", then someone will eventually find a source and speak about it. Still the book is a notable research. Now the phrasing is cautious, if you care to re-read; it is not stated as an absolute truth, but as a summary of the author's rationale. `'mikka (t) 17:50, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

The book probably is notable, and we agree on that, so I have trimmed the passage to focus on the book instead. As corroborating sources regarding the trade dispute are lacking at present, I have mentioned it only in passing, adding only in this sense that the book may be partisan. This should avoid the urban legend issue altogether.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 09:58, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, I read some chapters from the book yesterday. I didn't read it all, so I'm not saying that I know everything what is there. However, from what I read the book is pure fantasy. I have no doubt that some information there e.g. old techniques or old usages of vodka as medicines are correct, but it's general knowledge common for the whole Europe for all distilled beverages. On the other hand the author makes many suppositions without giving any sources (normally every historical book is full of adnotations). E.g. he says that the word "vodka" was used in Russian slang for centuries, but it's really not clear how he knows that. He also wrote that the word "gorzałka" is still much more popular in Poland than "wódka" what is simply rubbish. He generally avoids comparisons of the history of vodka or the term in Russia and Poland. In large parts the book is simply a deductive thinking, and the deduction is built on very weak basis. I could say that if people lived on the Earth for centuries they must have known it's round to the same effect. So I wonder if the book shouldn't be rather given as trivia in the article.
On the other hand the Russian part should be expanded. There must be some history to it. I.e. the banning of vodka by communists, but I'm afraid the book isn't a good source for that. Maybe rather some historical books writing about the period?--SylwiaS | talk 10:43, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Hey Sylwia, did you ever finish that book? Care to give us a book report? Regarding the above discussion, I did find this: [6] - 'Russia's patent office has ruled that the term "Russian vodka" can be applied only to vodka produced according to established criteria inside Russia itself.'  ProhibitOnions  (T) 10:22, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Another quotation

Here is from "Gorzałka czyli historia i zasady wypalania mocnych trunków" by Jan Rogala, Baobab (publisher), 2004, p. 39-40 (I kept the original style - boldings etc):

W Polsce praktykowano "palenie" czy "pędzenie" wódki już od wczesnego średniowiecza. W XVI wieku wódka była już bardzo dobrze znana. Dzieło Stefana Falimierza, wydane w 1534 roku w Krakowie zawiera rozdział: O paleniu wódek z ziół. Wiele wiadomości na temat pędzenia wódek niesie książka Jerzego Potańskiego Wódka lub gorzałka, wydana w 1614 roku. Jakub Kazimierz Hawra opublikował Skład albo skarbiec znakomitych sekretów w 1693 roku w Krakowie, a w niej zamieścił rozdziały: Diskurs o zdrowych likworach i Gorzałka i gorzalnicy. Podał w nich szczegółowe przepisy sporządzania z żyta surowicy żytniej. Z prac tych wynika, że nazwy: wódka i gorzałka były znane i stosowane w Polsce już z górą 400 lat temu, a pędzenie wódki dobrze znane w średniowieczu. W Polsce pędzenie wódki z żyta rozpoczęto w XV wieku. Warto wspomnieć, że w połowie XVII wieku monopol produkcji i sprzedaży napojów alkoholowych na terenach szlacheckich przyznano polskiej szlachcie. Był on źródłem wielkich dochodów, a na terenie Kongresówki zniesiony został dopiero w 1898 roku.

p. 42

Szczegółowe metody produkcji opisane są w interesujących osiemnastowiecznych publikacjach. W pracy Jana Pawła Biretowskiego Wiadomość ciekawa z 1768 roku jest rozdział o sposobach przyrządania wódek. Jan Chryzostom Simon wydał Informację praktyczną o paleniu wódek, pędzeniu dobrych alembikowych gorzałek i likworów w 1774 roku w wydawnictwie Posera w Warszawie i we Lwowie.
  • The book of Stefan Falimierz is in The British Library of the United Kingdom [7]
  • I didn't find the place where the Potańskis' book is held, but I found it listed in two places: [8][9] Potański is also quoted in Polish quotations database: O, wódko zdradliwa, Wielom rzeczom krzywa.[10]

Perhaps we might translate some of the above and add to the article.--SylwiaS | talk 20:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC)


Please don't include a gallery section -- that's not appropriate for Wikipedia. We should stick to encyclopedic style. --Improv 18:57, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

There's nothing wrong with galleries if they are germane to the article; that's why we have them, and if you are concerned about encyclopedic style, please have a look at the probable urban legend that keeps being reinserted into the article.
As vodka is a colorless liquid, it's hard to illustrate, but as the article makes clear it is a worldwide phenomenon. The gallery section was growing rapidly from its inception only a week ago and showed many noteworthy brands from around the world; there will no doubt be more, and I myself have some pictures to add, such as of old Soviet brands. I'll reinstate the gallery for now and we can see how it develops.
I should also mention that it might encourage people not to clutter the text with pictures of their favourite brands.

 ProhibitOnions  (T) 18:18, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps we should keep in the gallery only the most popular brands all over the world. I don't think Evolution Vodka should be there at all, but we might add Wyborowa, Danzka, Smirnoff etc. BTW Finlandia has much better picture on the article's page.--SylwiaS | talk 11:19, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I'd prefer non-advertising pictures whenever possible, and this should not be a place to hawk minor brands. However, since vodka is pretty much all the same, much of the appeal of one brand or another is branding and packaging, and that's something the gallery could show. I do share the concerns expressed by Improv that there's a danger of it becoming non-encyclopedic, but in my view it isn't inherently so if done right, and would be better than having a couple of pictures of brands inserted into the article.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 12:30, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
I've just noticed that you completely removed the pictures from the text. Why I can't illustrate the things I'm writing about? Such a long text without any pictures doesn't really look well.--SylwiaS | talk 23:25, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
See above. I replaced gallery pictures with your bottle pictures. If you've got historical pictures, or images of distilleries, production methods, etc., by all means put them with the text, but otherwise we run into the "clear liquid in fancy bottle" problem; might as well put all of these together.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 23:39, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, actually those vodkas that I put there are historical. That's why I put them there in the first place. And the Baczewski's Monopolowa doesn't even exist anymore. It's just a picture of an old bottle.--SylwiaS | talk 23:43, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
It's not that old, it has the US alcohol health warning on it (introduced 1990). I put a 1992 bottle in the gallery as well...  ProhibitOnions  (T) 23:50, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Oh, right. I've just clicked Monopolowa and it seems that they are making it now in Austria. That's why I never saw that. Anyway the Baczewski's company doesn't exist anymore. Still, I understand that images of vodkas shouldn't be added to general sections of the article to avoid wars about which one should be in the lead etc. But I think that they should be in the history parts where they illustrate the exact text. No one will fight over putting another Żubrówka - there is only one. Similarly there should be one Smirnoff (when the history of Smirnoff is added) or one Moscova with the history of Mendeleyev. Also the history of absolut seems quite old, and should be added as well. The brands should be illustrated. They are unique and have their place in history.--SylwiaS | talk 00:06, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Returning to this topic, is the gallery worth keeping? Many of the recent additions have been advertising for non-notable brands.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 20:50, 14 November 2006 (UTC)


Is this quote by Picasso sourced in any way? I found an article where the three things are: blues, cubism and Polish vodka, and not in France but anywhere in the first half of the 20th century.--SylwiaS | talk 06:50, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Googling for Picasso + "polish vodka" produces several results for "blues, cubism, Polish vodka", and the only few results that mention "Brigitte Bardot" or "jazz" on the first page are from Wikipedia or its clones. Does anyone know the correct quote? Can someone supply a well-sourced reference? Gabriel Knight 23:42, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I found the quotation by Picasso: "The three most astonishing things in the past half-century were the blues, cubism, and Polish vodka." here. Since there is no other source for the other one, I'll change it.--SylwiaS | talk 11:05, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
He could have said it in any of several languages, but I couldn't find this (using several variants, such as "vodka polonais" and vodka pologne) in French or Catalan; there's a source paraphrasing him in Spanish here [11], but unfortunately not quoting him directly; note that the three things here are Brigitte Bardot, jazz, and Polish vodka. I fear this, too, might be "the sort of thing he might have said"; there are plenty of other examples of people putting words into the mouths of celebrities.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 11:19, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Or he might have said both. He lived long enough to say many things, many times. Perhaps it's simply time to make Trivia section and put things like that there, and give more facts in the history section instead of sayings.--SylwiaS | talk 12:51, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

History of Vodka from other-language Wikipedias

It is interesting that other-language Wikipedias sometimes contain widely divergent information on the history of Vodka. Here are some extracts:

  • From Russian Wikipedia [12]:
The first vodka was produced by the arabian physician Pares [?] in the year 860; it was used for medical purposes.
In Europe, the first distillation of sugar-containing liquid was made by the italian monk and alchemist Valentius [?].
In Russa, vodka appeared for the first time at the end of the 14th century. In 1386 the ambassador of Genova brought vodka to Moscow for the first time ("Aqua Vitae" -- "live water"). In Russia it was called "bread wine", and was made from rye, wheat or barley.
In 1533, the state monopoly on production and selling of vodka in "tsar's inns [or taverns]" was introduced. In 1755 the Empress Catherine II allowed members of the nobility to produce and sell vodka without paying duties, depending on their titles and merits.
  • From Belarussian Wikipedia [13]:
Vodka first appeard in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between 15th and 16th centuries; it came from Germany, as the name (гарэлка -- from German "Geprant Wein", [burned wine - tr.]) testifies.
  • From French Wikipeida [14]:
Vodka was distilled in the 14th century, but one century later, the prince Ivan III (1462-1505) has prohibited the production of all strong alcoholic beverages. Tsat Ivan IV (1533-1584) (Ivan the Terrible) built the first tavern in Moscow, and founded the principle of state distilleries and distribution places. He thus had a monopoly on production and selling of vodka, which permitted the state to gather substantial profits. At this time vodka played an imporant part in Russian culture and economy.
  • From Italian Wikipedia [15]:
In Russia, the term with its modern meaning appeared first in an official document from the reign of the Empress Catherine II; the decree, dated from 8 June 1751, regulated the properties of several vodka distilleries. Another possible origin is found in the chronicles of Novgorod, year 1533, where the term "vodka" is used for an alcoholic infusion.
  • From Polish Wikipedia [16]:
The first historic distillation of alcohol was performed in year 400 by Zosimos of Panopolis [?]

Make whatever you want of all this. Gabriel Knight 22:24, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, it should be clarified. The Polish Wiki says that first documented distillation was performed in year 400 by those two guys. By no means it says it was in Poland or they were Polish. They say that vodka - the distilled beverage reached Europe in twelve century. It should be also noted that in Poland the word vodka has two meanings. One is narrower, and means all the kinds of vodkas similar to those produced in Poland. The other one is much broader - brandy, whisky, grappa, rum, liquers, cognac etc, that is every stronger liquor - all are vodkas, and certainly no one claims they were invented in Poland. Rather it's seen that every country developed their own kind of "vodka" that is a distilled beverage (just as there are many kinds of wines characteristic for its place of origin). I.e. starka has probably more to do with cognac than with vodka in the western understanding of the term, and what in English is called vodka in Polish is called "czysta wódka" (pure vodka) so we really don't see that this particular kind of vodka is more vodka than any other produced here. What Poles usually argue about is that the term "vodka" originated in Poland, and that the tradition of producing vodkas (in the narrower meaning) first flourished there.
On the other hand distilled beverages were produced in Russia much earlier than 18th century. However with the one exception of Novogrod they weren't called "vodka" (and as Halibutt once observed Novogrod was tied with Poland not long before the term was used so it might not prove anything). What Pokhlebkin is trying to prove is that they were called vodka only unofficially and that's why it's nowhere written. He also argues that the term was invented by Russian people because the others used then were too scholarly, and creates his own ethymology of the word which btw is described in the en Wiki article as a universal truth. Probably that's why he doesn't focus on the facts mentioned in the French and Russian Wiki (you won't find in his book the name "bread wine" for vodka, or any mentioning of Ivan III), after all the book was a product of the communist propaganda, and things were shown to prove a point, not a real historical picture. The French Wiki simply describes some facts about vodka in Russia using the term "vodka" in its contemporary meaning in the French language. They don't care as Pokhlebkin did that it was called in Russia something else then. Since the part about vodka in Russia in the English Wiki article is based mostly on Pokhlebkin's book the facts are omitted as well, and what we have is maybe three sentences about Russia at all. I say let's forget Pokhlebkin and improve the article. Surely there must be some other sources that describe the history better. On a side note Empress Catherine is a particularly interesting thing. En Wiki had her as Empress Catherine I (died in 1727) before I changed her to Elizabeth, while Catherine II ruled since 1762. The Russian Wiki has also the wrong date - it should be 1751.
Also since about 15th century vodka (also called something else) was produced in Sweden and that should be included in the article as well. The Belarusian Wiki has at least one thing almost right - most probably the idea of making vodka out of grain came to our countries from Germany. The Italian Wiki has simply a translation of the article from the English Wiki. Most of the articles are stubs really, and probaly variants of any other article compared throughout Wikis would differ similarly.--SylwiaS | talk 02:43, 10 September 2006 (UTC)