The Origin of Vodka
The history of the appearance of vodka is closely connected with the beginning of distillation. According to one source, the priority of this invention belongs to the Arabs. Others think that for the first time the spirit was obtained within 11th – 12th centuries by some Italian alchemists, whose names remained unknown. There are also people who believe that the distillation process became known simultaneously both in the East and in the West. However, the discovery made by the Arabs did not become widely known and was soon forgotten under the influence of the Koran, the holy book of the Moslems, which forbade the use of alcoholic beverages. Most probably, spirit was discovered by the alchemists by chance, during their attempts to find the much talked-about philosopher's stone. In their search of the substance causing intoxication, by distillation they managed to extract something from wine that was, according to their belief, its soul, its spirit (SPIRITUS in Latin). This is how the name of the spirit came about.
The first references of vodka distilling are met in Vyatka chronicle: “…in 1147 a distillery (“vinokurnya”) and the city council (“zemskaya izba”) were built in Khlynov (now Vyatka)”. However, it’s obvious that domestic preparation of alcohol beverage by distillation had existed long before that and then they were called kvass or vino tvoryonoye (i.e. mulled wine, specially made).