Development of Russian Vodka
The Russians recognized the enormous sales potential of vodka very early on and imposed a monopoly on production. Compared to beer, wine or kvass (a light alcoholic drink made from fermented bread), vodka was not integrated into people's daily life and religion. Nevertheless, its consumption spread rapidly over time. Under Ivan the Terrible, the first drinking houses - so-called kabaks - were opened in Moscow in 1552 to toast in his honor. Moreover, these houses were also popular among philistines, who asked for protection - even from authorities - until they had squandered their last belongings there. Due to the moderate success, the state monopoly on production was subsequently completely abolished by Peter the Great. After that, production increased noticeably.
The high time of Russian vodka began in 1765 under the reign of Catherine the Great. It allowed the production of vodka for the state distilleries on the one hand, and the landed gentry for their own use and their peasantry on the other. The nobility - where money was not an issue - burned the best grain while the peasants had to be satisfied with inferior grain for their daily bread. The first taste experiments with various herbs and fruits were carried out and even small quantities were exported.
Despite the strict rules of production, vodka, in rather poor quality, was also distilled black. In combination with cheaply produced spirits from abroad, Russian producers had to lower their prices, and vodka quality suffered as a result. The state reacted to this unfortunate situation in 1890 with a renewed monopoly on the production of spirits. A "Vodka Committee" was founded to ensure the state vodka quality and standardized production processes were introduced.
Surplus rye was used for a long time for the production of Russian vodka, but those times are long gone. A soft and round taste is characteristic for vodka made from rye.
All that remains is to say: На здоровье! Cheers!