Different vodka manufacturers employ several variations to the vodka manufacturing operation; however the basic vodka manufacturing process is pretty simple and presented as follows:
The grain for example in the form of wheat or vegetables is put inside a mash tub. The tub is very similar to a washing machine. While the tub rotates it breaks down the grains. Ground malt isadded to the compound as it eases the conversion of the starches to sugar.
Keeping the mash sterile
It is critical to maintain a totally sterile mash. The prevention of bacteria growth is extremely important in the production of vodka and all other distilled spirits. The sterilization processes employs 3 stages: The mash is heated until it reaches boiling point, Lactic acid bacteria are mixed into the mash, and once the chosen acidity levels are reached, the mash is once again sterilized.
The sterilized mash is then streamed into stainless steel tanks. At this point yeast is added and the tanks are sealed. The yeast contains enzymes that in the next four days will turn the sugars in the mash to ethyl alcohol.
The ethyl alcohol is injected to a column or pot still (most modern vodka producers use column stills). The stainless column still is comprised of vaporization chambers stacked on top of each other. The alcohol is continuously heated up with steam while it cycles up and down. This cycle continues until the vapors created from the heat are released and condensed. The alcohol vapors rise to the top vaporization chambers where they accumulate. The by- products and extracted materials drain into the lower chambers where they can be discarded.
Liquefying the alcohol gases
At this point the vapors created by the distillation process also called, fine spirits, contain between 95%-100% alcohol. There is a need to liquefy the alcohol gases in order to make them drinkable. At this point water is added to dilute the alcohol concentration from 100% to 40%.
To filter the processed product, many vodka producers use active charcoal to filter the distilled liquid to get rid of by-products and dangerous substances. Other filtration methods are available, but active charcoal is still the main process used to filter vodka.
Packing and labeling
The final stage of the production process, is bottling the vodka. Vodka is stored in glass bottles, as glass does not interact with the beverage. For example, storing vodka in plastic bottles would cause a chemical reaction that will eventually affect the taste of the beverage.
The only waste expected in the production of Vodka is spent grain which can be used as animal feed or fertilizer so the process has no adverse impact on environment.