What's the cloudy substance in my vodka?
February 27, 2007 11:42 AM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my vodka?

I walked by my liquor shelf and noticed a cloudy haze at the bottom of the bottle. Upon closer inspection, it looks crystaline and behaves gel like. They look almost like little glass hairs. The bottle was used not a week ago, so it's not like it's been on my shelf for years.

Any idea of what this is? It's not an expensive bottle, so I am not worried about having to chuck it; I'm just kind of interested in what it could be.
posted by bryak to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
Could it be water or some other "filler"? I know when I used to, ahem, stretch my parent's liquor supply by removing booze and replacing it with water, the water tended to be visible in the bottle, much like your photo. You don't have any under 21s around do you?
posted by robinpME at 12:19 PM on February 27, 2007

Looks like that to me. Any kids or mischevious roommates?
posted by pezdacanuck at 12:24 PM on February 27, 2007

Ethanol is less dense (0.8g/ml or so, if memory serves) than water, so I suppose water could collect on the bottom ... on the other hand, I always thought that water disperses evenly through an ethanol solution, so I'm curious why it would build up or otherwise separate.

It's probably not a particularly smart idea, but I'd be tempted to get a turkey baster or pipette, and try to get a sample of the stuff at the bottom, and some from the top, and compare them...color, odor, viscosity, taste, etc. Unless you think someone's trying to poison you, it ought to be safe to drink.

Overall, adulteration with water sounds pretty believable, particularly if your tap water is heavily mineralized. I can't come up with anything better than robinpME...
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:29 PM on February 27, 2007

Could be charcoal from a filtering process. Or some counterfeit methanol contaminated vodka can show sediment e.g.
posted by brautigan at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2007

I'm thinking it's methanol contamination and the bottle might be counterfeit. After all, I did buy it from the most highly reputed liquor store in Baghdad; so it makes the most sense.

Anybody know of a way to see if a bottle of Stolichnaya is counterfeit? Google didn't turn anything up.
posted by bryak at 1:22 PM on February 27, 2007

It's not water - ethanol and water are infinitely miscible.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2007

Can you post a picture of the entire label?
posted by JJ86 at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2007

You probably already know this, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT DRINK IT. Counterfeit vodka is the reason far more Russians die every year than are born.
posted by nasreddin at 4:10 PM on February 27, 2007

Stolichnaya vodka in particular is quite likely to be of lower quality (if not counterfeit) when purchased overseas than in the United States. Stolichnaya has different makers depending on what country you buy it in — right now there's massive worldwide trademark litigation over the ownership of the brand (Russia is trying to re-nationalize it) and different factories make it for different distributors in different countries. See, e.g., here and here (pdf link). My former law firm is handling much of the litigation for Spirits International, the US importer. It's quite the sordid tale.
posted by raf at 4:49 PM on February 27, 2007

yeah, sorry if this is obvious but don't drink it! You'll go blind
posted by derbs at 4:55 PM on February 27, 2007

Probably not methanol, either, which is miscible with ethanol and water, as well. It could be fusel oil, which is a by-product of fermentation meant to produce ethanol. It's a mixture of a bunch of alcohols and small amounts of esters and aldehydes. It is "an oily liquid with a disagreeable odor; 60% boils at 122-138 [deg. C]." (Merck Index, 12th Ed., p. 731). The major component, isopentyl alcohol, is denser than ethanol and only slightly soluble in water. Fusel oil is more toxic than ethanol, but nowhere near as bad as methanol.
posted by jamjam at 6:57 PM on February 27, 2007

Whatever the fuck it might be, just don't drink it. It looks bad.

Do they have arak in Iraq? It's like ouzo but usually made from grapes instead. Being more or less a "native" beverage arak might be safer, or at least less likely to be counterfeit or stepped on, than a "prestigious" foreign liquor.
posted by davy at 8:20 PM on February 27, 2007

i took a few more photos of the offending bottle's label.

i am very familiar with arak, the vodka was supposed to be for an algonquin bloody eight the morning after an arak evening.

it's starting to sound more and more like this is a legitimate bottle of stoli with counterfeit quality.

i always thought moskovskaya was the scary, bootleg brother of stoli; guess i was wrong.
posted by bryak at 12:31 AM on February 28, 2007

Googling for "tradeville ltd ireland" finds no real results. I'm guessing counterfeit.
posted by raf at 8:41 AM on February 28, 2007

A search of the registered companies in Ireland lists "Tradeville Ltd" as a dissolved company since 2000.

So either
a) 7 year old label and a new bottle
b) 7 year old bottle
c) Counterfeit vodka
posted by MarvinJ at 9:07 AM on February 28, 2007

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