9 Fun Facts About Polish Vodka

We can’t talk about Poland without mentioning Vodka! This official national beverage is an essential piece of Polish culture. You will find vodka at all types of events including weddings, birthdays and every other celebration in between.

Fun Facts About Polish Vodka

1. Polish Vodka dates back to the Middle Ages.

The first written and recorded mention of vodka in Poland was in 1405 in a deed document called the Akta Grozkie. It is believed that vodka in Poland actually originated during the 8th or 9th century.


2. Vodka was originally used for medicinal purposes.

The original word for vodka in Poland is gorzałka, a term that is still used today that means “burning water.” Vodka was commonly used for treating wounds and illnesses in Poland, especially during the Middle Ages, although many Poles still believe in its medicinal qualities today.

3. The Polish word for vodka is wódka, meaning, little water.

The Russian name for vodka is vodka (also meaning little water). It is thought the Russian name stuck in English as it was easier to pronounce.

4. A few popular vodkas have been continuously produced in Poland since the 16th century.

Żubrówka (Bison Grass Vodka) has been produced since the 16th century. Goldwasser, which contains gold flakes, has been produced in Gdańsk since 1598.

5. Polish Vodka is essential at a Polish wedding.

There is a tradition that takes place at most Polish weddings before a bride and groom enter the reception. There are two shot glasses, one filled with water and the other with vodka. The bride and groom do not know which glass contains what. The first glass is offered to the bride for her choosing. It is said that whoever consumes the vodka will be the leader in the marriage. After the shot is taken, the glasses are thrown backwards over the shoulder of the couple and smash as a sign of good luck.


6. Polish Vodka is produced from 5 different types of grains or potatoes.

For a vodka to be considered Polish, it must be made from rye, barley, oats, wheat, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) or potatoes. These materials must be grown in Poland.


7. The minimum alcoholic strength of vodka is 37.5%.

According to European Union guidelines, for vodka to be considered a spirit, it must contain 37.5% alcohol. Most vodkas in Poland are characterized by containing 40%.

8. In 2016, 98.2 million liters of vodka were produced in Poland.

Poland is the leading producer of vodka in the European Union. Poland is the 4th largest vodka producing country in the world, preceded only by Russia, the United States and Ukraine.

9. Two weeks into the Corona Virus Pandemic, Poland donated 430,000 liters of confiscated vodka to Polish public institutions who were in need of disinfectant.

The alcohol was originally intended to be destroyed but was repurposed for disinfecting indoor public spaces and transportation. Rectified spirits, which contain around 95% alcohol are sold individually for consumption in Poland. 1,500 liters of this spirit was sent to hospitals for disinfecting purposes.


Polish Toasts

  • Na Zdrowie! (Nah zdroh-vyeh) - For health!
  • Sto Lat! (Stow-Lot) - 100 Years!
  • Człowiek nie wielbłąd, pić musi - Man is not a camel, he must drink!

Learn more about tasting vodka in Poland on a private tour. Contact us!

Polish Cuisine

We are Damian and Elizabeth, a Polish-American couple, and we are excited to share Poland with you! We have traveled around the world and seen many places but find ourselves most inspired by our home countries.

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