Josh Clark

The Age-Old Question of Whether to Forego Vodka or Die From It

This fine morning, Reuters is reporting that over in Vietnam 80 percent of the vodka consumed is produced at home. Just four percent of the vodka found in the steamy Southeast Asian country is imported.

The homemade liquor the Vietnamese are making is distilled from rice or corn, which may or may not make for some truly horrible vodka. It's not like the Vietnamese have much of a choice; a series of fake liquor rings have been busted by the government. In the face of a loss of trust that liquor bought at stores actually has alcohol in it, can these people be blamed for making their own?

Here's an even better question: Why don't hard drinkers the world round take a cue from our Vietnamese brothers and sisters and make our own booze? Funny I should ask; Chuck and I covered this in our How Moonshine Works podcast.

While impurities can turn up in the wine or beer-making process, they are generally harmless or uncomfortable for the old noodle the next day. Not so with liquor distillation. Impurities called congeners can actually prove fatal if not removed from the liquor by distilling it several times. With the weather in Hanoi at a pleasant 80 degrees and 64 percent humidity at the time of this posting, it's the perfect time for a screwdriver. Really, are the chances high that the rice vodka is going to be passed through the still out back more than once?

Which raises the question, is it better to simply swear off vodka and live a long, healthy life or risk it all for one good, stiff drink? Doesn't seem like much of a choice to me. God bless those people over in Vietnam. I hope they have plenty of ice.

More stuff abounds at HowStuffWorks.com: How Moonshine Works How Alcohol Works How Hangovers Work