The Difference Between Vodka vs Gin Explained
Vodka and gin are two popular spirits that can often be used interchangeably. They are both considered “neutral spirits” due to their similar production processes. Although they are produced similarly, there are several things that set them apart. So between gin and vodka, which is the best spirit for you? Continue reading to find out.
What is Vodka?
Vodka is a popular alcoholic beverage made from grains such as rye, rice, wheat and potatoes. It is traditionally a clear spirit and is known for its neutral aroma. This hard alcohol also has an alcohol concentration of 40% ABV. Vodka traditionally came from Russia and Poland but now is being produced around the world.1
What is Gin?
Gin is another popular alcoholic drink made from juniper berries and other botanicals. Gin is the only distilled spirit that is flavored with botanicals, whereas other hard liquors such as whiskey or brandy are not. The production process for gin is similar to vodka in that it is made from a base of grain or potatoes. However, during the distillation process, the mixture is infused with juniper berries and other botanicals, giving it its unique flavor.2
Types of Gin
There are several types of gin you should be aware of, including:
- London Dry Gin is a type of gin that is juniper-flavored and dry, meaning it doesn’t contain added sugar or other sweeteners. It’s made from neutral grain alcohol, with juniper berries as the main botanical ingredient. London Dry Gin is widely used in cocktails, such as the classic Martini.
- Plymouth Gin is a brand name for a type of gin distilled in Plymouth, England since 1793. It has a slightly different flavor profile than London Dry Gin, with a heavier emphasis on citrus flavors.
- Old Tom Gin is the opposite of London Dry Gin. It is much sweeter as it contains sugar and became popular during the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Navy Strength Gin is a higher-proof version of London Dry Gin, usually ranging from 57% to 60% ABV. This type of gin was originally used by British Royal Navy sailors, who would mix it with gunpowder to test its strength.
Similarities Between Vodka and Gin
Although vodka and gin are distinct spirits, they do share some similarities. Starting with production, both vodka and gin are derived from grains, such as barley, rye, wheat, or corn. This distillation process creates spirits that are somewhat similar in color although they differ in taste. Both spirits also have similar alcohol content ranging from 30-40% ABV, depending on the brand and style.4
Differences Between Vodka and Gin
Are wanting to know how is gin made vs vodka? Although vodka and gin have similar production processes, they also have some distinct differences. Vodka is a distilled beverage made from a variety of fermentable ingredients such as grains, potatoes, or sugar beets. It is then distilled multiple times to remove impurities, creating a clear, odorless spirit.1
Gin, on the other hand, is a distilled spirit that begins with a neutral spirit base made from grain or other fermentable materials and then flavored with juniper berries and other botanicals.2 This imparts flavor and aroma to the spirit, giving it a distinct taste profile. Vodka does not undergo this flavoring process and is instead left as an unflavored, clear spirit.
Appearance & Taste
Vodka is a clear, flavorless alcoholic beverage made from water and ethanol. Its taste is often described as neutral or mildly sweet. While this is the case, if you do not thoroughly understand how long vodka is good for and how to store it properly, the appearance and taste can change.
Gin is a flavored, pale yellow spirit made with juniper berries and botanicals, including coriander and angelica root, which gives it its distinctively earthy, herbal flavor. This taste develops by infusing these botanicals into a neutral spirit for a minimum of six hours and up to several days, resulting in a more pronounced flavor.
If you enjoy liquor that has a more pronounced flavor and spice consider whiskey as well. Learn more about the differences between vodka vs whiskey to see if this spirit is right for you.
History & Location
Vodka and gin have long histories and interesting stories behind them. Vodka has its roots in Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Poland. It is believed to have been first made in the 8th century, though it didn't gain popularity until the 19th century. Today, vodka is produced and found all over the world.5
Gin, has its origins in England. It was first created by a Dutch physician who infused juniper berries into a grain-based spirit. Gin became popular in England during the 17th and 18th centuries, and it continues to be a favorite to this day.6 It is also now produced all around the world.
How They Are Served
Vodka and gin are both versatile spirits, which means they can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. Vodka is most commonly served straight or with a mixer, such as soda water, tonic, or orange juice. Some common vodka cocktails include:7
- Vodka Martini
- Moscow Mule
- Bloody Mary
- White Russian
Gin is also frequently served straight or mixed with tonic, but it is also the main ingredient in a range of classic gin cocktails, including:8
- Gin Martini
- Gin and Tonic
- Gin Fizz
- Tom Collins
Both vodka and gin can be used to make delicious cocktails, making them great choices for entertaining.
Which is Right For You?
When it comes to deciding between gin or vodka, the best choice depends on your individual taste and preference. While they both share similarities, they also have some key differences.
Vodka is usually made by distilling grains, like wheat, rye, or potatoes. It is a clear, odorless spirit that typically has a smooth and subtle flavor. This makes it an ideal choice for cocktails or to be consumed straight.
Gin, on the other hand, is made by infusing juniper berries into a neutral grain alcohol and then redistilling it. It is commonly infused with botanicals like citrus fruits, coriander, orris root, licorice, and angelica. This gives the gin a unique flavor that is often described as “earthy” or “piney”. Gin can also be used in cocktails but is also great for sipping neat or on the rocks.
Ultimately, choosing between vodka and gin is a matter of personal preference. If you prefer a smoother and more subtle taste, go with vodka. If you prefer a more complex flavor profile, go with gin. Both are equally delicious options and should be enjoyed responsibly.
Choose a Vodka & Gin With Barbank
At Barbank, our premium liquor is delivered straight to your home through our online liquor delivery. We have varying brands and price points. For premium vodka, we carry brands like Ciroc, Grey Goose, and Titos. For premium gin, we carry brands like Bombay Sapphire, Gray Whale, and Hendricks.
And if you prefer other types of alcohol, we can help you with that too! If you are a fan of tequila check out our guide on the differences between vodka vs tequila to see which spirit would best suit you. Whatever you're looking for, we are here to help. Cheers!
- ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. All About Vodka.https://www.abcfws.com/about-vodka
- The Spruce Eats. What is Gin?https://www.thespruceeats.com/introduction-to-gin-760701
- Fine Dining Lovers. Six Different Types of Gin and Their Characteristics.https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/gin-types-how-to-drink-them
- Drink House 247. The Difference Between Vodka & Gin. https://www.drinkshouse247.co.uk/blogs/posts/know-the-difference-between-vodka-and-gin
- BinWise. History of Vodka.https://home.binwise.com/blog/history-of-vodka
- VinePair. The Complete and Slightly Insane History of Gin in England.https://vinepair.com/articles/england-gin-history/
- VinePair. Essential and Popular Vodka Cocktails for 2023.https://vinepair.com/articles/most-popular-vodka-cocktail-recipes/
- VinePair. Essential and Popular Gin Cocktails for 2023.https://vinepair.com/articles/most-popular-gin-cocktail-recipes/