There is no doubt that Vodka is a popular spirit of choice in Canada, as the alcohol made $1.3 billion in sales in 2016-2017, and made up nearly 25% of all spirit sales in the country. While vodka is traditionally made from fermented grains such as corn and wheat, and of course potatoes, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced that Canadian vodka can now be made from ingredients other than potatoes. Honey vodka, anyone?
In an announcement made on Wednesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said that Canada’s vodka compositional standard has been updated, therefore allowing the industry to become more “innovative.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said that changing the rules will allow the growing spirits industry to provide better choice for consumers. This in turn would enhance trade, as the new and innovative vodkas could be sold in markets across Canada and abroad.
The new compositional standard will allow Canadian distillers to use a variety of ingredients other than potatoes and cereal grain to produce vodka. The ingredients listed as likely new contenders are honey, apple and dairy, which could naturally increase Canada’s “competitiveness” in the industry, by having more unusual choices.
According to the statement made by CFIA, vodka will remain a “neutral alcoholic beverage.” This means that the spirit will remain without distinctive character, aroma, or taste. That said, the new standards mean that distillers across Canada will be able to achieve this by using new ingredients or processes. Previously, the only filtration process allowed for vodka was through charcoal, but now they'll have more options.
These changes to the vodka standard have come following the Government of Canada's commitment to enhancing competitiveness and facilitating trade. The new standard will mean there are fewer trade barriers between Canadian provinces and territories.
It will also mean there are better opportunities for international trade, as the new standard aligns better with the standards of trading partners, such as the U.S. and European Union, who also allow vodka to be produced from a wide range of materials.
The new compositional standard is effective immediately, although the 112 distilleries in Canada will have until December 2022 to follow the new rules.
If you are keen to try one of the new-style vodkas, you should look for labels that are using the statement ‘produced from’. According to the statement from CFIA, vodka produced from ingredients other than just potatoes or cereal grain must be labelled accordingly, so they should be pretty easy to find!