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Drink Comparison: Vodka vs. Whiskey

21 Mar 2023

Vodka and whiskey are known as some of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. While this is the case, they have many key differences you should be aware of. If you are deciding between vodka vs whiskey it is important that you know how both are made, their flavor profiles, health benefits, and more.

What is Vodka?

Vodka is a distilled alcoholic beverage made mainly from grains and potatoes. It is clear in color and typically served straight, or mixed with other ingredients to create cocktails. Vodka has a long and storied history, with production and consumption tracing back to the 9th century in Northern parts of Europe and Russia.1 The alcoholic drink is popular in countries all over the world due to its versatility, affordability, and low-calorie count.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains such as barley, rye, wheat and corn. It is generally aged in oak barrels that may vary in size and type. Whiskey has a much richer flavor and aroma than vodka and is usually served neat or with a splash of water.2

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Similarities Between Vodka and Whiskey

There are a few similarities between these two different alcohols. Both vodka and whiskey are distilled alcoholic beverages that are typically made from grains such as barley, corn, rye, or wheat. The process of distillation is the same for both, with the grains being heated and fermented before they are distilled and then aged or filtered to create the desired taste and flavor profile.3 This means that rye whiskey could be made from the same grain as rye vodka. However, this does not mean that the end product will have a similar taste, as the difference in production processes will create very different flavor profiles.

Differences Between Vodka and Whiskey

History & Location

Vodka and whiskey have both been around for centuries, although the exact origin of each is not fully known. While both drinks have been popular throughout the world, there are differences between the regions where each is most commonly produced and consumed.

Vodka is closely associated with Poland and Russia, where it has been a major part of the culture for centuries.4 In recent years, vodka has also become popular in North America and other parts of the world. Whiskey is most closely associated with Scotland and Ireland and was first introduced to America in the 17th century where it became wildly popular.2 While whiskey can be made anywhere in the world, it is closely associated with its birthplace making it hard to find in certain places.

In terms of history, vodka is believed to have originated in Russia during the 9th century, while whiskey dates back to the 15th century in Scotland and Ireland. This difference in history has also had an impact on the production process for each beverage. Vodka is traditionally made from potatoes or grains, while whiskey is typically made from malted grains like barley, rye, or wheat. This difference in ingredients gives each beverage its unique flavor and aroma.


The production process of vodka and whiskey are both fairly straightforward. However, there are some distinct differences between the two spirits.

Vodka is most often made from grains and potatoes. It is then distilled to a very high proof, usually over 90%. This results in a clear spirit with no flavor or color.5 If you do prefer flavored vodka, this flavor is added during the bottling process.

Whiskey is made from grains, such as barley, rye, wheat, and corn. It is then aged in wooden barrels for several years to give it its unique flavor and color. During this aging process, a portion of the alcohol will evaporate and be lost, leaving a sweeter taste than vodka.2

So while both spirits are created through distillation, they differ in the materials used and how they are aged. This results in different flavors and colors in the end product.

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Appearance & Taste

Vodka and whiskey are two of the most popular spirits available, but there are notable differences in their appearance and taste. Vodka is clear and flavorless. It’s made from grains, potatoes, or other starches that have been distilled multiple times, resulting in a spirit that is almost entirely water and ethanol.11 Vodka can be served cold, or mixed with other ingredients for cocktails. To have the best-tasting drink it is important that you know how long is vodka good for and how to properly store it.

Whiskey, on the other hand, has a much more distinct appearance and flavor. It is usually amber or golden in color and has a smooth, smoky taste. Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain mash and then aged in oak barrels for several years. The type of grain used, as well as the length of aging, will affect the flavor of the whiskey.2 It can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, or used to create popular cocktails like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

Health Benefits

Both vodka and whiskey can provide some positive health benefits. Vodka is known for its detoxifying powers due to the fact that it’s made with natural ingredients like grains and potatoes, and contains antioxidants. It also helps improve circulation and digestion, reduces stress and anxiety, and strengthens the immune system.6

Whiskey has some of the same benefits as vodka, but there are a few key differences. The distilling process of whiskey creates a higher alcohol content than vodka, which means it can help boost metabolism and burn fat. Whiskey also contains vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Additionally, it can support your immune system, improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of stroke.7

Both vodka and whiskey contain ethyl alcohol, which has many of the same properties as regular alcohol. However, when consumed in moderation (one or two drinks per day), both can offer a variety of health benefits. So while it’s important to remember that alcohol consumption should be enjoyed responsibly, it’s good to know that drinking either vodka or whiskey can be beneficial for your health.


In terms of hangover effects, vodka is generally seen as the better option. Because vodka has fewer congeners (impurities created during the distillation process) than whiskey, it causes fewer hangover symptoms. Studies have shown that people who drink vodka experience fewer hangover symptoms than those who consume whiskey.8 The same can be said about gin as this is also a hard liquor that contains a larger number of cogeners. If hangovers are a concern of yours, learn more about the differences between vodka vs gin to see which would be best for you.

However, this doesn't mean that drinking vodka or gin will necessarily prevent a hangover—it just means that if you do experience a hangover, it's likely to be less severe than if you had drank whiskey.

Vodka vs. Whiskey

What is Right For You?

When deciding between vodka and whiskey, the choice really comes down to personal preferences. If you like the stronger taste of whiskey, it is probably the right choice for you. But if you prefer a smoother, sweeter taste, then vodka is the way to go. Vodka is also the preferred spirit for mixed drinks and cocktails.

Whiskey, on the other hand, is best served neat or on the rocks. It has more complexity and flavor than vodka, but this can be intimidating for some drinkers. If you want to try something new, whiskey is a great option to explore. If you are a fan of alcohol with a kick why not try tequila as well? Check out our guide on the differences between vodka vs tequila to see why tequila is a favorite.

Find Premium Vodka & Whiskey at Barbank

No matter which liquor you choose, both vodka and whiskey have their advantages. They can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from simple sips to complex cocktails. Whether you’re looking for a classic drink or something new, vodka and whiskey are two spirits that should not be overlooked.

If you are looking for premium vodka or premium whiskey, Barbank is here to help.

At Barbank, our premium liquor is delivered straight to your home through our online liquor delivery. We have varying brands and price points to choose from. For premium vodka, we carry brands like Ciroc, Grey Goose, and Titos. For premium whiskey, we carry brands like Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, and Bulleit. With Barbank, luxury drinks at home have never been easier!


  1. ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. All About Vodka.
  2. ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. All About Whiskey.
  3. American Liquor Co. What Are the Differences Between Vodka and Whiskey?
  4. Chilled Magazine. The History of Vodka.
  5. MasterClass. How Vodka is Made.
  6. WebMD. Vodka Health Benefits.
  7. WebMD. Whiskey: Is It Good For You?
  8. National Institutes of Health. Alcohol Hangover.
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