Liquor Laboratory

Vodka vs Whiskey: What’s The Difference? (2024 Edition)

whiskey vs vodka

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Whiskey and vodka are two distilled spirits that are often compared even though they are completely on opposite sides. One is dark, while the other is clear. One may also be stronger than the other. 

Our team aims to put a halt to the long-term debate of vodka vs whiskey. Check out the fast facts below!

What is Vodka?

Vodka is a distilled spirit known for its neutrality and versatility. It is typically made from fermented grains, such as wheat, rye, or corn, but can also be produced from potatoes, grapes, or other fruits. The production process involves distilling the fermented base to achieve a high alcohol content, often exceeding 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

What sets vodka apart is its relatively neutral taste and odor, allowing it to serve as a blank canvas for various cocktails. Vodka can be enjoyed on its own, chilled or at room temperature, but it is most commonly used as a key ingredient in cocktails due to its ability to complement other flavors without dominating the mix.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey, or whisky (with and without the “e” depending on the region), is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. The grains used in whiskey production include barley, corn, rye, and wheat. The production process involves mashing the grains, fermenting the mash, distilling the liquid, and aging it in wooden barrels, typically made of oak.

The aging process imparts distinct flavors and characteristics to the whiskey, with factors such as the type of grain, distillation method, and length of aging contributing to the final product.

There are various types of whiskey, including Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, bourbon, and rye whiskey, each with its unique production regulations and flavor profiles. Whiskey is often enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as a component in a wide range of cocktails.

Vodka vs Whiskey: Which Is Better?

Whiskey & Vodka

Whiskey and vodka are quite similar when it comes to the manufacturing process.

Both alcoholic beverages require fermentation, distillation, and heating. But that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. 

The main difference lies in the byproduct. Vodka is made from food that contains starch and sugar like potatoes, corn, barley, and rye. Whiskey is made by fermenting grains like wheat, rye, and barley.

But, there’s one important thing that sets whiskey apart – a process called malting – where the grain is soaked, germinated, and mashed before fermentation and distillation.  

How Do They Differ?

How Do They Differ?


Whiskey and vodka may be different, but they also share some common ground. For starters, grain is a fundamental ingredient in both vodka and whiskey. 

Whiskey is derived from the fermentation of grains, single malt, wheat, barley, rye, and corn.

It also undergoes a malting and distillation process and needs to be aged in an oak barrel or on other wooden barrels, for that matter. The aging process takes about six months as per common practice. 

On the other hand, making vodka involves fermenting potatoes to produce this alcoholic drink.

It is then distilled three to five (or more) times. It is said that the more distilled your vodka is, the purer it is. 

Both whiskey and vodka require fermentation, but vodka need not undergo an aging process in oak barrels. 

Dubra vodka with rose's grenadine and glass


Health Benefits

For most people, alcoholic drinks tend to do more harm than good. However, moderate drinking or having at least one drink per day of a premium alcoholic drink like vodka and whiskey may prove otherwise.

As a matter of fact, it has been proven by Science that vodka reduces the risk for heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes. [1

Based on research, vodka has fewer calories and contains no sugar, fat, or carbohydrates. It may also lessen inflammation in some cases.

On the other hand, whiskey contains antioxidants that lower the risk of heart disease and other related illnesses.

The polyphenols in whiskey break down triglycerides or fat, eliminating the “bad” cholesterol that may clog your arteries and block blood flow.

But how much sugar content does whiskey have?


When it comes to taste, vodka ranges from light to thick, fruity, or bland, depending on the brand of the bottle and its quality.

This is also one of the reasons why it is often used in creating mixed drinks or cocktails. 

On the other hand, the taste of whiskey is more intriguing for liquor enthusiasts.

By drinking whiskey, the first contact of the tongue with the alcoholic beverage causes a tolerable and slight burning sensation.

You can feel the unique taste and the notes of fruit and spices with every gulp. 

Consumption Type

Vodka is a no-fuss spirit. Vodka is all about simplicity, so it is best consumed neat or chilled.

Distilled vodka production involves sugar which is why it has a naturally sweet taste, making it a flexible drink that’s also perfect for cocktails. 

Jack Daniel's Honey with glass

Drinking whiskey can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. It has a powerful taste, and you’ll most likely be surprised by the burning sensation in your mouth.

We recommend smelling your whiskey first before drinking to get a sense of its taste.

Liquor enthusiasts can attest how whiskey is best consumed neat and in small sips.

Add a splash of water to neutralize the strong flavor, take a sip, swirl around to coat your tongue, then swallow it. 


Vodka and whiskey cocktail

Unlike whiskey or gin, vodka has limited varieties – there’s plain, flavored, and infused.

But vodka’s subtlety is actually what makes it so popular. It is best to mix vodka with fruit in cocktails like Bloody Mary, White Russian, and Moscow Mule.

Vodka also complements the flavor of ginger beer. You can create a cocktail like Bloody Mary by simply combining vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and spices! 

Meanwhile, whiskey has several varieties, and there are no two whiskeys that taste alike!

Some of the most popular varieties include bourbon, single malt, rye. Bourbon has a caramel taste and oak-like aftertaste. Single malt has hints of vanilla, citrus, and exotic fruits. Rye boasts of intense dryness with spicy notes.

Alcohol Content  

Distilled vodka consists of rectified ethanol and water. A minute difference exists between whiskey and vodka regarding alcohol content.

Vodka has around 40% ABV or at least 80 proof, while whiskey has about 40% to 50% ABV.

Organoleptic Properties

Whiskey can be light yellow to brown, while vodka is a distilled spirit in light gold to dark amber.

There is not much difference in color because distillers aged both alcohols in oak barrels. Whiskey smells powerful, while vodka is odorless. 

Dragon whiskey glass

Vodka makers fermented grains, corn, and rye along with sugar to produce its premium taste.

However, vodka can also be derived from potatoes and other grains like barley, making it light and thick.

Intoxication & Aftereffect

Pure vodka can be less fun, so it is better to mix the flavor of fruit and other alcohol.

However, because liquor makers aged whiskey and vodka in oak barrels, the taste can be quite strong, resulting in intoxication. 

Whiskey is also one of the liquors that can intoxicate you quite quickly, and excessive consumption of whiskey may lead to higher blood levels.

It may also contain synthetic mixtures that are hard to process by our livers.

“Niche spirits and high-end products give you a definite edge. Those can help get you in the members’ bars and the cocktail bars.”

– Francis Weier, Founder of London Import Firm Distillation.

Vodka vs Whiskey Hangover

The severity of a hangover is influenced by various factors, including the type and amount of alcohol consumed, hydration, and individual tolerance. In the comparison between vodka and whiskey hangovers, some individuals claim that vodka tends to result in a milder hangover.

Vodka is often considered a cleaner spirit with fewer congeners and impurities, potentially contributing to a less severe morning-after experience.

On the other hand, whiskey, especially darker and aged varieties, may contain more congeners, which could intensify hangover symptoms for some people.

However, individual reactions to different types of alcohol vary, and factors like hydration and overall consumption play significant roles in hangover severity.

Vodka vs Whiskey vs Rum

When comparing vodka, whiskey, and rum, each spirit brings distinct characteristics to the table. Vodka is known for its neutrality, making it a versatile choice in cocktails. Whiskey, with its diverse styles like Scotch, bourbon, and rye, offers a wide range of flavors, from smoky and peaty to sweet and oaky. Rum, derived from sugarcane or molasses, adds a tropical and sweet dimension.

In terms of hangovers, the impact is influenced by alcohol content, impurities, and individual factors. Some may argue that rum, with its added sweetness, can contribute to more severe hangovers, while others may point to the congeners in whiskey or the purity of vodka as potential factors.

Vodka vs Whiskey Calories

The calorie content of vodka and whiskey varies, and individuals mindful of their caloric intake may consider this factor. Vodka is often praised for its relatively low-calorie count. A standard shot of vodka (1.5 ounces) typically contains around 97 calories. On the other hand, whiskey tends to have a slightly higher calorie content, with a similar-sized serving providing approximately 105 calories.

While the calorie difference is relatively small, it may be a consideration for those seeking lower-calorie options. Additionally, the choice of mixers and the overall cocktail recipe can significantly impact the total calorie count, making it important to factor in all ingredients when making a choice based on caloric content.


Is vodka healthier than whiskey?

Yes, in a way, vodka is healthier than whiskey. As we compare vodka vs whiskey, we account for the alcohol component in each drink.

Assuming you drink high-quality vodka, this contains ethanol which is easier for your liver to process. Whiskey has around 40% ABV, in which too much consumption may affect your liver. 

Which leaves a stronger smell on your breath – vodka or whiskey?

Whiskey. Blended whiskey consists of neutral spirits, so whiskey smells stronger than vodka. However, vodka will smell like ethanol, no matter its flavor.

Note that whiskey contains more synthetic mixtures that persist even after the distillation process, making a drink stronger than vodka.

In Summary

The difference between whiskey and vodka is not negligible, especially when they affect one’s health. Both of these alcohols differ in color, taste, and the kind of ingredients used in producing each of them. Some prefer vodka since it is considered the most versatile drink and has many health benefits, to top it off. However, some love whiskey simply because it is an acquired taste. 

No matter what kind of drink you choose to go with, always remember to drink in moderation to avoid any perils on your health. 


  1. Vodka Health Benefits
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