Certification of Vodka

March 28, 2008

Dear Rabbi,
What is involved in the OU certification of vodka?

The Orthodox Union receives many inquiries about certification of vodka. This is a typical response, as written by Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator.

Dear _______:

Thank you for your inquiry and interest in OU Kosher certification.

Please be advised that typical straight Vodka presents few challenges toward its kosher certification. Although, grape or lactose derived alcohol can be problematic (both kosher sensitive), most vodka is grain or sugar alcohol based and therefore of kosher origin.

The specific areas requiring kosher confirmation for vodka are three-fold:

1) Many processing aids and additives are inherently kosher but others may require substantiation (e.g., yeast, defoamer, glycerin).
2) For flavored vodka, any complex flavorings other than pure herbs and spices, will require kosher verification from the point of their manufacture.
3) The processing, blending, storage and bottling equipment that manufacture the vodka, if also used for kosher sensitive products, will need to be addressed to exclude any cross contamination concerns that may exist.

When completing the OU’s application please provide information about the alcohol source and any additives. These details will help insure that the evaluation and certification process will be a smooth one.

Should you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards,
Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz
Senior Rabbinic Coordinator