What’s the Difference Between Gin & Vodka?

What’s the Difference Between Gin & Vodka?

You can definitely taste the difference between gin and vodka, but do you know what the difference actually is? While there are key differences between the two, they can often be used interchangeably in cocktails or mixed drinks.

Here are some mixers that are equally as good, whether you’re using gin or vodka:

  • Tonic
  • Orange juice
  • Ginger beer
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Lemonade
  • Pineapple juice
  • Cranberry juice

In fact, gin and vodka are so often interchangeable that one of the world’s most iconic cocktails, the Martini, has both gin and vodka variations.

But, just because these two drinks are often interchangeable, doesn’t mean they’re the same. Here are some of the key differences between gin and vodka.


How Gin & Vodka are Made

Gin is made by distilling a neutral grain alcohol (usually wheat or barley) and infusing it with the quintessential essence of juniper berries. Additional fragrant botanicals are often added for a more complex flavour, including coriander seeds, Angelica root, citrus peel, lavender, cardamom, and black pepper.

The flavour and aromas of gin range from delightfully floral, to sharply citrus, to spiced, depending on which type of gin you’re trying.

Vodka is made from fermented grains - usually rice, corn, wheat, or rye - that are blended with water and distilled. Potatoes can famously also be used to create vodka, but most commercial vodkas use one of the fermented grains listed above. Pure vodka doesn’t have any additional flavours, but there are loads of flavoured vodkas on the market that are infused with citrus, fruits, herbs, and botanicals.


What Gin & Vodka Taste Like

Although both alcohols are clear, gin has a much more distinctive botanical flavour while vodka is neutral (unless it’s flavoured).

Things can get a little complicated though. You can find gins that have been redistilled from vodka with added botanicals to make it taste more like gin - but strictly speaking, that isn’t gin. Conversely, vodka can be flavoured with herbs and botanicals that give it a gin-like flavour, but it’s still vodka.

Now, to complicate matters, it is possible to make both gin and vodka from all kinds of other ingredients, and you can find on the market gin that has been re-distilled from vodka, with extras added to make it more gin-like. Strictly speaking though, that’s not gin.


What Temperature to Drink Gin & Vodka

Gin is often drunk at room temperature without impeding on the taste experience, but vodka is usually refrigerated and drunk at low temperatures. Cold vodka has a smoother texture and feel at colder temperatures - this is why you’ll often see people storing their vodka in the freezer

Due to its high alcohol content, vodka won’t turn to a solid even in the freezer, but the cool temperature may mask some of its more subtle flavours and aromas. If you have an expensive or high-quality vodka you’re saving for a special occasion, we recommend against storing it in the freezer.

Is Gin or Vodka Better?

No one can answer the question of whether gin or vodka is better except for you. It’s like asking whether the sky or sea are better - just because they’re both blue, doesn’t mean they’re the same (or that you even have to pick one).

If you like herbaceous, floral notes then you’ll probably enjoy gin more. If you want a neutral alcohol that will seamlessly blend into your mixer or cocktail, then vodka is right up your alley. While they can be used in similar applications, each drink is wonderful in its own way.

Any drink cabinet worth its name should have both gin and vodka on its shelves, and luckily we have a huge range of English-made gins and vodkas in our online store.

We also stock a wide variety of mixers that are perfect for experimenting, so put on a playlist, invite some friends over, and spend an evening mixing up a taste journey to figure out whether you’re a loyal gin-lover or a vodka convert!

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