The expression ‘Polish vodka’ has been commonly used in colloquial Polish for generations. However, vodka has been known and produced all across the world. So what distinguishes Polish Vodka from other vodkas and what makes it unique? What criteria does vodka have to meet to earn the name of ‘Polish Vodka’?

The history of the Polish Vodka geographical indication dates back to 2004 when the name was mentioned in the Polish EU Accession Treaty. In 2006, the Polish government passed a law known as the Act on the production of spirit drinks and the registration and protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks, which introduced a number of regulations regarding the origin and production of our national beverage. The Act, amended on January 13, 2013, included a current definition of Polish Vodka. Let us take a look at the definition of Polish Vodka currently in force, which is specified in Article 38.1 of the aforementioned Act:

Polska Wódka/Polish Vodka is:

1) Vodka containing no additives other than water or

2) Flavoured vodka with a given dominant flavour other than the flavour of the raw materials used for its production, containing natural aromatic agents, and in special cases, dyes of a maximum level of sugar stated as inverted sugar not exceeding 100 grams per 1 litre of pure alcohol – acquired from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin from rye, wheat, barley, oats or triticale or potatoes, grown on the territory of the Republic of Poland, where all production stages take place on the territory of the Republic of Poland and which can be seasoned for the purpose of acquiring specific organoleptic values.

This definition of Polish Vodka lays down two basic criteria which vodka has to satisfy in order to be labelled with a protected geographic indication.

Firstly, Polish Vodka has to be made from either the five grains listed above (rye, wheat, triticale, sheep or barley) or locally grown potatoes. The second criterion specifies that Polish Vodka has to be made in Poland. Not only the products themselves have to be local. All the stages of vodka production have to take place on Polish soil as well. The only exception allowed is the bottling process.

Apart from the agricultural products, another important ingredient specified in the definition of Polish Vodka is water – it has to be purified and demineralised.

Thanks to its rich history and excellent quality, Polish Vodka was put on an elite list of products with the Protected Geographical Indication logos, which, among others, includes wines, cheeses and other alcoholic beverages such as cognac or Scotch whiskey.

Based on the amended Act on the production of spirits, the Polish Vodka Association has created a non-compulsory program “Polish Vodka”, for which they came up with a series of verbal and graphic designations. These designations can be placed on products that meet the criteria of the Act, that is, they are produced in Poland and from traditionally Polish grain: rye, wheat, triticale, oats, barley or potatoes.


Keep up to date on all the news about Polish Vodka. Become a fan of the Museum of Polish Vodka and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.





Vodka, originally known as gorzalka, only became more commonplace on Polish territories around 16th century. Our ancestors used to be very eager to drink vodka, regardless of their social status. However, what has changed throughout centuries is the vessel used to consume it from. Find out how it has evolved over time.

Goblets and cups

At the beginning of vodka consumption in our territories, there were no glasses available – neither crystal nor glass. At first, there was a metal goblet used for vodka until end of the 18th century. Initially, gorzalka was used only for medicinal purposes. A little later came the tradition of drinking vodka in aristocratic and noble manor houses, where homemade distilleries were started. At the time, the rest of the society had to make do with a pint of beer at home or in a tavern; if a representative of the lower class or a poor nobleman managed to come into possession of gorzalka, they were likely to drink it from a wooden cup. Back in the day, a metal goblet, which now seems rather plain, was reserved for the wealthiest.

Glass comes to… the table

In the 18th century, a new type of glass was developed that resembles the one we drink vodka from nowadays. It had a stem and was a tiny piece of glass art. Apart from various shapes, a glass could have sophisticated ornaments, emblems or gilding. Of course, it was also used for other strong alcohols, such as sweet liqueurs and tinctures.

When the technology of vodka production became more widespread and once the liquor was available in taverns, yet another type of short-stem shot glass came into use, known as karczmiak (inn glass). It was made of thick glass to increase its resistance to breaking, which was happened in taverns more often than not. Special, angular karczmiaki were also manufactured, their edges preventing the glass from rolling down onto the floor. It is easy to imagine the scenes that must have occurred many a time during social gatherings, especially in taverns.

“Literatka” not only for literary women

Most vodka connoisseurs realise that literatka (a glass tumbler whose Polish name translates into “literary woman”) has nothing to do with literature or its representatives. The origin of this name is much more mundane and definitely not as romantic. The name ‘literatka’ most likely comes from Galicia and is a Polish variant on the German term ‘ein achtel Liter’, or ‘Literachtel’ in local dialect, used to describe a small glass of 125 ml. The Poles simplified the German name and thus literatka became commonly used in informal Polish language. It is worth noting that our native name for small 100-ml vodka glasses has always been stopka (footer).

The shot glass as we know it

Around the 19th century, another type of glass appeared in addition to literatka or stopka – this thin vodka glass without a stem is the type of vodka glass that achieved widespread popularity in our country. The stem was replaced by a thick layer of glass at its base, keeping liquids cool for a long while after they have been chilled. However, according to some experts, nothing can keep vodka cool as well as a stem could, especially during long toasts.
Therefore, it is not unjustified to claim that Poland provided considerable input into the art of the production of vodka as well as of vodka glassware.


Keep up to date on all the news about Polish Vodka. Become a fan of the Museum of Polish Vodka and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.



Many of us have grown attached to traditional Polish dishes, which generally go well together with the most popular beverages across the country, including vodka. However, we are increasingly opening up to new culinary experiences, an looking for inspirations and knowledge about the art of pairing vodka with food. Here is a bunch of ideas to help you rediscover well-known dishes that taste amazing if accompanied by a glass of Polish Vodka.

Wash that fish down with some vodka!

In oil, in sour cream, Kashubian-style… herring in all shapes and sizes is an obvious accompaniment to vodka, especially Polish Vodka. If you want to add variety to this traditional starter, you can put the herring on a slice of savoury pumpernickel bread or, subtler in flavour, rye bread, preferably sourdough-based. Such a composition tastes best served with onion marmalade, beets or a herb such as dill or chives. You can try adding a little bit of horseradish and cranberries to spruce up the foolproof recipe for herring in oil with onion.

Vodka made of potatoes has the most delicate flavour of all Polish Vodkas. This is why it will be perfect with light, fish-based starters, as it will bring out their flavour without overpowering them with an intense aroma.

Polish Vodka and a number of smoked fish also make an ideal match – from mackerel and salmon to the more sophisticated eel. We encourage you to experiment with the way you plate them – why not put them on a slice of roasted potato or bread? You should not be afraid of enhancing the flavour of the fish with a pinch of tangy herbs and spices, horseradish being a perfect choice yet again.

Even though caviar is traditionally served with Russian vodka, it is worth a try with a Polish one as well. It will taste excellent served in the traditional way – on a slice of bread with butter. You can also try adding it to other fish-based snacks, such as those based on herring or smoked salmon.

A traditional, elegant Polish delicacy, which has recently made its comeback into our dining rooms, is crayfish caught in our local rivers. The subtle taste of crayfish goes well with fresh or dried herbs or other seasonings. Accompanied by a glass of Polish Vodka, crayfish can make a very exciting culinary discovery!

A treat for carnivores

Meat enthusiasts surely cannot imagine a proper party without steak tartare of beef. To give it a more modern touch, you can replace the pickled cucumber with capers and spice it up with a bit of hot mustard. This starter will become even more elegant if you add quail egg yolk instead of chicken egg yolk.

Just like smoked fish, Polish Vodka pairs great with cold cuts of all sorts of meats. Polish Vodka is an outstanding accompaniment to sausages, smoked or dry-cured ham and pork fillet. You can also add beef slices to your tray of lunch meats.

Polish Vodka likes smoke, so it can be paired with a main course such as grilled chicken wings. It will also go amazingly with a meat-based goulash with mushrooms, preferably dried ones. As to main courses, cabbage rolls are also worth mentioning, but instead of using rice in your filling, you can add buckwheat to give the dish a more pronounced flavour.

Meat dishes are more substantial and flavoursome than fish-based ones, which is why it is better to pair them with grain vodkas which have stronger aromas. Rye vodkas are the most intense and rich in flavour, with a slightly nutty hint and a subtle sweetness whereas vodkas made of wheat, barley and oats are somewhere between potato and rye vodkas on the scale of complexity and intensity of flavours and aromas.

Veggie feast

Although you will not get such nutritious ingredients as meat or fish in vegetarian meals, they can amaze you with their rich flavours if prepared correctly. We do not have to look far to find examples such as various types of pickled cucumbers. It is a great snack to serve to your guests if there is Polish Vodka on the table, or you can mix it with big pickled capers for the sake of variety. Let us not forget about pickled mushrooms, which will also widen your selection of snacks and will pair really well with Polish Vodka.

Fans of meatless pierogi will be pleased to hear that their favourite dish and Polish Vodka also go well together. You can easily spruce up the traditional recipe for pierogi ruskie by replacing the typical cottage cheese with oscypek (smoked sheep cheese), which has a more pronounced flavour. You should not be afraid of experimenting when pairing vegetarian dishes with Polish Vodka. You should always remember one rule, though: potato vodkas have a more delicate texture than those made of grains.

We strongly encourage you to conduct culinary experiments with Polish Vodka. The key to success is simple yet flavoursome dishes. You should not be afraid of salted or smoked touches, which compliment the flavour of Polish Vodka really well. You can also offer your guests the opportunity to compose their own snacks by simply providing all the ingredients separately on the table. We wish you good pairing choices and inspiring discoveries!


Keep up to date on all the news about Polish Vodka. Become a fan of the Museum of Polish Vodka and follow us on Facebook and Instagram



Poland is undoubtedly a country of vodka enthusiasts. So it’s no wonder why more and more of us are becoming real vodka connoisseurs – after all, the quality of Polish Vodka does not compare to anything else in the world. Here is a handful of interesting and, hopefully, surprising facts about our national beverage!

1. A brand of vodka that uses a protected geographical indication and fits the definition of “Polish Vodka” has a label “Polska Wódka / Polish VODKA” attached to the bottle and may additionally have a mark of quality given by the Polish Vodka Association.
Based on the amended Act on the production of spirits, the Polish Vodka Association has created a non-compulsory program “Polish Vodka”, for which they came up with a series of verbal and graphic designations. These designations can be placed on products that meet the criteria of the Act, that is, they are produced in Poland and from traditionally Polish grains: rye, wheat, triticale, oats, barley or potatoes.

Only the Polish Vodka Association is authorised to grant the “Polska Wódka / Polish Vodka” program designations.

The program is the first such initiative and its goal is to build awareness and increase the significance of the geographical indication “Polska Wódka / Polish Vodka”. The program was launched in January 2013.

2. The Rolling Stones performed in Warsaw in exchange for a wagon of Polish vodka.
The memorable concert took place 50 years ago and since then, has managed to produce a number of myths and not necessarily true anecdotes. For this reason, many sceptics claim that the wagon story is merely an urban legend. However, numerous people involved in organising the concert confirm the story’s authenticity. Unfortunately, the members of the band did not manage to consume their “pay”, as the wagon was returned to Poland by the British border guards.

3. Polish vodka was served on board during the first flight of the Concorde.

It occurred in 1976, when the quality of vodka from Poland was already appreciated around the globe. Wyborowa was one of the most popular brands of vodka at the time. Its prestige grew relatively quickly and among its enthusiasts were famous artists and high-level officials. It was Wyborowa that was served on board of the then state-of-the-art supersonic passenger airplane Concorde during its inaugural flight.

4. According to estimations of the Polish Vodka Association, only about 15 percent of vodka produced in Poland deserves the name “Polish Vodka”.

In 2016, a total of 98.2 million litres of vodka (on 100% alcohol basis) were produced in Poland. Poland is the leading producer of vodka in the European Union. On a global scale, we rank fourth, preceded only by Russia, the United States and Ukraine. Only 15% of those productions meet the requirements to carry the label “Polish Vodka”.Let us remind you that the definition has been in force since 2013. It can be found in its entirety in the Act on the production of spirit drinks and the registration and protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. According to these regulations, alcohol that can be labelled as Polish Vodka has to be made from one of the five grains (rye, wheat, triticale, oats, barley) or potatoes grown in Poland, and the entire process of its production has to take place in our country, apart from bottling.


Keep up to date on all the news about Polish Vodka. Become a fan of the Museum of Polish Vodka and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

– Marcin Sitko, “The Rolling Stones za żelazną kurtyną. Warszawa 1967”
– Łukasz Zarzecki, Maciej Zarzecki, “Alkohole w Polsce i na świecie”
– Łukasz Gołębiewski, “Wódka. Przewodnik wraz z przepisami na drinki”
– www.pva.org.pl