If you are just starting to develop an appreciation for certain spirits, you may be wondering what’s the difference between gin and vodka. Vodka and gin, while distinct, share a few similarities.
Whether you’re looking for some fun facts to impress your friends or you just want to learn more about these fine spirits, you have come to the right place. Here’s an overview of the gin vs. vodka debate that includes everything you need to know.
What Is Vodka?
For better or worse, vodka is the most popular alcoholic spirit on the planet. More people drink vodka than any other liquor. So what is vodka anyway, and why is it so popular?
Most people believe that vodka is the product of the distillation of potatoes. Although vodka can be made from fermented potatoes, this method is much less common than in previous years.
The truth is, vodka can be made from almost anything that has a sufficient amount of sugar. You might be surprised to know that popular brands of vodka like Svedka, Ketel One, and even Grey Goose have wheat as their base ingredient, not potatoes.
Other popular vodka brands use corn and other fermentable grains. While many people aren’t particularly concerned about whether their vodka contains wheat, corn, or some freshly fermented potatoes, it’s good to know what you’re drinking.
Unlike gin, chilled vodka is flavorless. In fact, the United States government defines vodka as a neutral base spirit that has been filtered to remove any trace of flavor, scent, or color from the finished product. Despite its distinct lack of flavor, vodka has become the most popular liquor on Earth.
Why Vodka Reigns Supreme in Terms of Popularity
Why is it the preferred choice of so many people? When you think about it, being flavorless has many advantages when it comes to making classic vodka cocktails. This means you can mix cheap vodkas with just about anything without traumatizing your taste buds!
Let’s face it; vodka tastes as good in virtually any kind of soda as it does in your morning coffee. The reason for that is the simple fact that vodka has a neutral taste with a clean finish. It’s the cool guy you bring to the party that can mingle seamlessly and gets along famously with practically anyone. That’s vodka in a nutshell. It’s also why vodka has captured about one-third of the liquor market.
Vodka and tomato juice, or Clamato juice for you Canadians out there, tastes delicious! Try splashing some whiskey in tomato juice; it won’t be pretty. That’s because it won’t taste good. Does beer taste good in juice? Probably not, but vodka? Absolutely, no pun intended!
What Is Gin?
Now that you and vodka have been properly acquainted, it’s time to turn our attention to gin, another old favorite among cocktail enthusiasts.
Gin is traditionally made from juniper berries, giving it the distinctive flavor adored by many and hated by some. It is a British spirit with Dutch origins in 17th century Holland. Although gin is generally made from juniper berries, it can be made from many other natural botanicals and base materials and has an alcohol content of at least 40%.
Were it not for the botanicals, gin’s characteristic flavor might be somewhat similar to vodka. The botanicals are what imbue gin with its lofty and distinct flavor. The taste of juniper is very distinct in that it resembles pine somewhat. That’s what a lot of the gin you will find on the market tastes like, which makes it quite refreshing.
The refreshing distinctive taste of gin makes it extremely popular in the summer when mixed with tonic water. While some people will sip gin, it’s generally included in a variety of mixed drinks. One of the most venerable cocktails calling for gin would be the classic martini which brings us to our next debate in gin vs. vodka.
Does the Perfect Martini Call for Vodka or Gin?
The martini has been called many things; some would call it the nectar of the gods, while others find it much too strong for their tastes. Although the martini is arguably one of the popular cocktails ever made, you can’t blame anyone for finding it a bit strong. After all, it’s all booze! There’s no soda, no juice, no nothing, except for a dash of dry vermouth, of course.
Since James Bond settled the shaken vs. stirred debate once and for all, it remains to be determined whether the best martini is made with vodka or gin. While people from both camps have plenty to say on the matter, it ultimately comes down to your preferences. Just because some folks ardently insist that the best martinis are made with vodka, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a gin-based martini if that’s what you prefer.
James Bond was rather fond of the mixing of spirits when preparing his martini glass. He would swap out the vermouth for Kina Lillet and a lemon peel in favor of a traditional olive garnish.
Which Has the Best Flavor?
This is, of course, something of a trick question as vodka has no flavor of its own. A better question would be something more specific: which of the classic cocktails tastes better, gin on the rocks or vodka and Coke? Then again, perhaps that would be a bit too specific.
If you love juice or soda and can’t stand the taste of most liquor, vodka is going to be your new best flavorless friend. On the other hand, if you prefer the difference in taste produced by the subtle botanical notes of gin, then go for it!
Is One Healthier Than the Other?
If you’re wondering whether gin is healthier than vodka or vice versa, you’re about to find out! Although very heavily drinking any liquor regularly is a recipe for disaster regardless of your spirit of choice, gin is somewhat healthier than vodka.
At 97 calories per shot, gin is one of the least fattening spirits available. Although plain vodka is a neutral spirit with fewer calories than most darker spirits, flavored vodka is not so healthy.
If health is a significant concern for you, just remember to drink in moderation. You can enjoy the pleasures of a cocktail with vodka and gin without the consequences of the effects of alcohol as long as you limit your intake.
In summary, both gin and vodka have their merits and are distinct spirits. The major difference between the colorless spirits is the raw materials used to make them. Feel free to experiment and try them both in different cocktails. After all, variety is the spice of life!
Do you prefer beer to vodka? Are you interested in something more exotic? Something like mead or moonshine, perhaps? Check out our site!