Vodka enjoys a reputation as a neutral liquor whose lack of aroma and taste makes it extremely popular for cocktails. Tracing the exact history of this drink proves impossible as conflicting stories exist as to when the first vodka was produced, what ingredients were used and even which nation first invented the liquor. Whether Russia's claim proves true or Poland's, there's no question vodka has become a worldwide drink.
The biggest difference recognised between potato and grain based vodkas will be the starting ingredients. Grain can refer to wheat, rye, barley or any type of grain from which alcohol can be distilled. Many nations began distilling vodka from potatoes when historically the price of grains went up, but the price of potatoes remain extremely cheap. The largest difference between these types of vodka lies with the ingredients before the distilling process.
The ingredients used to produce the vodka sometimes act as a clue to the location of where the vodka was distilled. This won't always be the case, but some regions are famous for their potato vodkas while others will be known for rye or wheat vodka. Some companies in the United States even produce vodka from wine grapes. Russia produces a wide range of grain-based vodkas while famous potato vodkas can usually be traced back to Poland.
Vodka Wives' Tales
Many individuals claim a taste difference between vodka made from potatoes and vodka made from grains. When actually tested in laboratory settings or even informally by news channels and men's magazines, when blindfolded, individuals could almost never discern the difference in taste between the two. Some also say potato vodka causes less of a hangover than grain vodka, but this is another wives' tale which fails to hold up under testing.
The reason many argue that the differences between potato vodka and grain vodka are perceived as opposed to real is the charcoal filtering required to make vodka. Most liquors get their flavour from the type of ingredients used or impurities left over, but charcoal filtering removes all of this. In theory, this should mean that vodka made from potatoes and vodka made from any type of grain will actually taste the same if both have been filtered properly.