Vodka can be made from many different kinds of agricultural produce that have a high concentration of starch or natural sugars, including grain, molasses, potatoes, rice, sugar beet or grapes.
To make vodka, a neutral spirit of the appropriate quality is either re-distilled to produce a pure and flavourless spirit or filtered through activated charcoal (ie charcoal treated either by steam or chemicals to make it more absorbent) which removes any residual impurities and odours. Filtration is done by pumping vodka through columns of activated charcoal or, in the case of cheaper vodkas simply immersing it into tanks containing charcoal. No maturation period is required for vodka.
Very pure water is then added to the spirit to give the legal EU minimum ABV strength of at least 37.5 percent; it is not unusual to have vodkas of up to 50 percent ABV.
Flavourings may be introduced into the spirit by either adding natural essences or by steeping fruits or herbs in the vodka for several days. These include red pepper, ginger, peach, berry fruit, vanilla, dark chocolate, and cinnamon; St John's Wort is a curious ingredient found in certain Ukrainian vodkas, and Poles and Belarusians may add the leaves of the local bison grass which impart a slightly sweet flavour to the spirit. Honey and pepper is another ‘seasoning’ for some Ukrainian and Russian vodkas.