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Gin vs Vodka (2022 UPDATED) Must-Read Guide

Last Updated on November 6, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Vodka and Gin are two very distinct spirits. One is often positioned as odorless and tasteless, which is a perfect choice for a variety of classic cocktails. Meanwhile, Gin is commonly associated with pine and herbal flavors. 

So, which of the two liquors is better?

Vodka or Gin: Which Is Better?

Vodka & Gin

Being a pure spirit, Vodka is the highest-selling spirit globally because of its neutral character, making it a popular liquor to be used in cocktails, mixed drinks, and shots, which makes it essential in every bar. It is one of the heaviest drinks with an alcohol content of 40%.

This neutral taste is without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color. 

Gin, on the other hand, is essentially just a flavored Vodka. As a neutral spirit, bartenders and distillers say it’s a must to have this spirit on their bar because it doesn’t have a distinct flavor.

With all that said, Vodka is the most preferred spirit to Gin because it may not go well with different ingredients that risk conflict with its flavor. 

Is Gin actually Vodka?

Yes, Gin can be classified as Vodka. However, Vodka cannot be referred to as Gin. 

Both are grain-based liquors that need to be fermented, but these two liquors have distinctive characteristics from each other, distinct tastes, chemical differences, and disparate origins. It is actually just flavored Vodka.

Broker's Gin

Vodka is tasteless, while Gin has aromatic flavors from Juniper berry. Though subtle, it is evident that there is a difference between the two drinks based on the main characteristic flavor derived.

All in all, Vodka and Gin are excellent choices for cocktails. As they say, these two spirits are the most popular drink ingredients for making a cocktail.

Read: Gin vs Whiskey Comparison

Their Differences

Their Differences

Base Product 

Both Gin and Vodka share a common base of products: corn, wheat, rye, potato, grapes, and sorghum. Some include carrots, beets, and even milk. But let’s break down the products that make these spirits so special. 

Vodka derived its name from the Russian word “Voda,” generally distilled from grains or potatoes. Our government classifies it as “any neutral spirits distilled without distinctive character. This spirit can be made from many different things, with water and ethyl alcohol as the base products or raw materials. The first time this was recorded in writing dates back to Eastern Europe in the early 1400s.

On the other hand, Gin originally derived its name from the French word “Genievre,” a word for Juniper berries. 

It is made from eight botanicals which gives it a strong taste.

Its aromatic compounds and natural botanicals such as the Juniper berry and other herbal extracts, together with more herbal notes, are added to the fermented grain mixture and water until the alcohol level balance of flavors meets the required levels. The distillation occurs multiple times to remove as much flavor as possible. 

Smell and Taste

Unlike other spirits, if you go ask someone to describe what tequila tastes like, you’d hear descriptors say “sweet and citrusy,” but if you go ask someone to describe what Vodka tastes like, you’ll get nothing. 

Smirnoff Vodka

As said, Vodka has no flavor at all. It is considered a neutral spirit, and even the U.S. law dictates that it should be colorless, odorless, and flavorless, making it perfect for mixing cocktail drinks. 

Now, if you go ask someone to describe what Gin tastes like, you’ll probably hear them saying “juniper” and “piney” as it is indeed distilled Gin or mixed with juniper berries and other flavoring agents.

Classification

In many instances, Gin may be classified as flavored Vodka. However, Vodka cannot be referred to as a type of Gin. 

This is because Gin can be re-distilled from Vodka with added botanicals and spices.

Distillation Process

There are different approaches to Gin and Vodka distillation.

The most common practice is to distill the Gin or Vodka once or twice but to achieve a more pure result, others require distillation and redistillation several times. 

How They Are Made

Both spirits share the same process, first is to prepare the mash and combine the base ingredients, second is to ferment, the third is to distill, next is to dilute, and the final stage will be the bottling of the spirit.

How They Are Served

Vodka is served chilled because it enhances its flavor and lessens its signature burning effect. 

A glass of Gin

Using a shaker at ice-cold temperatures is one way to serve chilled Vodka without keeping the bottle in the freezer. 

Meanwhile, Gin can be consumed regardless if it’s chilled or not. Its aromatic flavors give a fantastic taste even when it is not chilled. 

Cocktail & Mixes 

Gin cocktail

Vodka’s popular mixes are Bloody Mary, Moscow Mule, Classic Martini, Grey Goose, Vodka Belt, White Russian, Vodka Brands, Black Russian, 

Meanwhile, Gin’s famous cocktail mixes are Ramos Gin Fizz, Clover Club, Gin Rickey, White Lady, Dutch Courage, and Tom Collins.

Age Terms

The difference between Vodka and Gin in terms of Age is that Vodka doesn’t go bad. So long as the bottle stays unopened, its shelf life is decades. 

While the shelf life of opened Gin usually ranges from only months to decades, depending on the volume of alcohol in the bottle.

FAQs

Is Gin healthier than Vodka?

Yes, it has less sugar and fewer calories than some other drinks, specifically Vodka. 

According to the USDA, 1.5 ounces of either of the two contains roughly 100 calories with zero carbs. (1)

Does Gin make you drunker than Vodka?

No, Vodka and Gin both have virtually identical base ABV of 40%.

But with Vodka having its ABV spiking up to 95%, it is not hard to say that Vodka hits harder than its almost twin, the Gin.

In Summary 

Both Vodka and Gin went through the same process. These are the two most popular spirits used frequently for preparing various cocktails and the most popular drinks globally.

The only differences they have are the addition of Juniper berries and other flavoring agents and spices, and that Vodka is one of the heaviest drinks available.

Some of the categories of Gin are Old Tom Gin, Plymouth Gin, American, London Dry Gin, and Navy strength. 

Vodka being flavorless and odorless, is more preferred for various kinds of mixes and cocktails. Gin is best mixed with straight flavors to avoid the risk of conflict with its flavors. It comes in five different styles–  London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, Navy Strength, London gin, and West Coast.

Reference:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000886.htm

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