31 January 2013, 11:25

Russian vodka marks its B-Day

Russian vodka marks its B-Day

On Jan 31, the famous Russian vodka marks its unofficial B-Day. Back in 1865, the prominent chemist Dmitry Mendeleev revealed a groundbreaking formula for perfect vodka - 40 percent alcohol - in his doctoral thesis "On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol”.

A legend has it that Mendeleev paid with his health for the discovery but it’s only legend.

Mendeleev’s paper was not on how alcohol and water affected humans but its effect in meteorology. However, some enterprising people turned the discovery into the Moscow Special vodka brand in 1894 and later patented it as a national alcoholic beverage.

However, historians say that vodka appeared in Russia some 500 years earlier but then nobody knew how to count alcohol percent, says Evgeniya Gerasimova from the Moscow-based Vodka Museum.

"The history of vodka dates back to the 14th century when European merchants brought wine spirits to Russia. Then the country had nothing stronger then medovukha (honey-based alcoholic beverage of 4-7%, the same as today’s beer). However, Russia had no grapes to make wine so it used grains (mainly rye) that grew only in Russia at that time."

In 1505, first exports of Russian bread wine to Sweden were recorded in chronicles and further sales followed.

Nobody knows when the name vodka appeared but it was already mentioned in one of Empress Elizabeth’s decrees in the mid 18th century.

In 1977, Poland claimed the invention at court but the food industry historian William Pokhlyobkin proved that the technology was Russian.

This prompted a motto Only Russian Vodka is Real Vodka.

Investcafe analyst Darya Pichugina says there is no Russian Vodka brand today.

All Russian vodka-makers eye foreign markets and design their brands accordingly. For example, Beluga or Russian Standard. But we have no absolute vodka-making leader, they are all competitors. Today, vodka is a rather general and international concept, not like world-famous brands Schnapps or Whisky. (end)

However, 40% vodka is not arbitrary, there exist 38, 45, 56 and even over 100% versions. So one should better know when to stop.

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