The Wheel of Spirits: Episode Vodka & ‘Korn’

In this episode of the Wheel of Spirits you’ll learn everything about Vodka & ‘Korn’. Due to some similarities the two spirits are often considered the same. We will show you the small but important differences.

Vodka is one of the most common spirits behind the world’s bars – in contrast,‘Korn’ is a clear spirit (Schnapps) traditionally found only in working-men’s pubs and watering holes out in the sticks. Vodka is the mainstay of dozens of cocktail classics like the Vodka Martini or the Cosmopolitan, while ‘Korn’ is usually served as a chaser to a glass of beer. OK, so why am I telling you about Vodka AND ‘Korn’?

Quite simply because Vodka & ‘Korn’ are both spirits distilled from cereals and the way they are made is almost identical. The first step in both cases is the making of a sour mash by mixing roughly crushed and malted grains with water. This is then heated to create the sweet mash. After fermentation, the so-called raw spirit is obtained from this by distillation. The distillation process is repeated several times until the fine distillate is clear.

So, are ‘Korn’ and Vodka two names for the same spirit? Not quite. Vodka is made from cereals, potatoes or molasses,and, in some countries, even from grapes. In contrast, the production of ‘Korn’ is governed by a strict purity law and it may only be produced in Germany with German-grown cereals.

There’s another difference, too: after distillation, the fine distillate of ‘Korn’ is either matured in oak casks or diluted with water and bottled right away. In the case of Vodka, the fine distillate must first be filtered to make it taste more neutral. Only then can it be diluted with water and bottled.

So a ‘Korn’ isn’t a Vodka and a Vodka isn’t a ‘Korn’. But both are clearer than the theory.

Let’s get back to the practical side of things – the next couple of weeks are cocktail time. We kick off with one Vodka cocktail: the Moscow Mule with Spicy Ginger, a runaway success in the USA in the fifties. And, of course, one with ‘Korn’ as well: the Cloudy Korn with Tonic Water.

So. Now you know that ‘Korn’ is not just cheap hooch you can pick up from the supermarket for a couple of euros and mix with Fanta to get plastered at village parties. And that the secret of finest Vodka is filtration.

Na sdarówje – see you soon. Cheeers!

Texted by Philipp Mogwitz.