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  • Vodka Vs. Whiskey | What Are The Differences?

    Published on September 14, 2021
    Vodka Vs. Whiskey | What Are The Differences?

    Alcoholic beverages like vodka and whiskey have quite a few differences including how they taste, their appearance, and what they’re made of. But despite these differences, they also have similarities like abuse potential and the effects they have on the body.


    Vodka is composed primarily of water and ethanol and is produced by fermenting any food that contains sugar or starch. This includes corn, potatoes, wheat, or rye. 

    Through the fermentation process, the sugar is turned into alcohol and put through the distillation process at least three times.

    Vodka is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and usually has a minimum ABV of 40% or 80 proof. Some brands add flavorings to make it taste like chocolate, vanilla, or fruit.

    Vodka originated in Russia but is now made and sold around the world.


    Whiskey is made from fermented grain mash and uses a type of grain like barley, rye, or wheat. The grain is soaked, grown, germinated, and then mashed in a process called malting. That solution is then fermented, distilled, and matured in an oak barrel.

    Whiskey has an ABV of 40-60%, or 80-120 proof. The taste depends on the quality of the ingredients, the distiller’s skill, and how much time it’s kept in the barrel.

    Whiskey originated in Scotland or Ireland. The two countries tend to fight about who invented it first. Scotland is currently the biggest producer of whiskey to this day.

    Types Of Whiskey

    A few of the most popular types of whiskey include:

    • bourbon: must be made in America, aged at least two years, and contain at least 51% corn (caramel and oaky taste)
    • rye: must be made with at least 51% rye (spicy, dry taste)
    • single malt: must be distilled at a single distillery and aged at least three years (fruity, vanilla flavor)
    • scotch: must be made in Scotland with either malt or grain and aged in an oak barrel for at least three years
    • Irish whiskey: must be made in Ireland, made with a mash of malt, aged for at least three years, and can only be distilled using water and caramel coloring 

    Vodka Vs. Whiskey: Differences

    Vodka and whiskey have quite a few differences, including:


    Whiskey is made with different types of grains while vodka can be made of anything with starch or sugar like potatoes, wheat, or even beets.


    Vodka is made by distilling the liquid from its ingredients, fermented using yeast, and then heated at high temperatures. As it’s heated, the liquid vaporizes and the droplets are collected. Those droplets are the vodka put in bottles.

    Whiskey is also distilled but using different ingredients like barley. It’s then fermented in copper drums. From there, it goes into wooden barrels to start the aging process. Different woods are used to give the end result a different flavor and color.

    Alcohol Content

    The alcohol content is also different for the two spirits. Whiskey usually has an ABV of 40-60% while vodka has a minimum of 37-40% but can be much higher depending on the brand.


    When it comes to appearance, the two alcohols couldn’t be more different. Vodka is colorless and clear like water. Whiskey can range from light gold to dark amber in color. 

    How It’s Served

    Whiskey is served straight and should be at room temperature or heated. The flavors aren’t as strong when it’s chilled. It’s also recommended to be taken in small sips instead of all at once.

    Vodka can also be served straight but is best when served ice-cold or as an alcoholic base for mixed drinks.


    The taste of vodka and whiskey couldn’t be more different. Vodka generally doesn’t have a taste while the taste of whiskey can change depending on the wood it’s aged in and the ingredients used. It can taste musky, flowery, and oaky.

    Vodka Vs. Whiskey: Similarities

    Whiskey and vodka may seem completely different but they have some similarities. including:

    Alcohol Dependence & Addiction

    As with most alcoholic drinks, the more you drink the more likely you are to develop a dependence on alcohol and have it lead to addiction. Both vodka and alcohol can lead to alcohol addiction under the right circumstances. 

    Possible Effects

    While both vodka and whiskey are low in calories, the effects they can have on your body can be damaging. Some of the effects of drinking large amounts of vodka or whiskey may include:

    If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol addiction, please call our helpline today to find the right treatment for you.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Britannica - Learn how to make vodka
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Alcohol Use and Your Health
    Whiskey Advocate - How is Whiskey Made

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