Kizlyarka vodka has been known in Russia since the 17th century, its name is not a modified derivative of the adjective “sour”, but a direct reference to the place of production – the Dagestan city of Kizlyar. According to legend, Peter the Great himself admired the products of local winemakers.

Kizlyarka is an alcoholic drink with a strength of 40-45 degrees, made by distillation of fermented wine materials (juice, pomace, peel), less often other fruits. After 7-18 months of aging in oak barrels, a pleasant light yellow color and a slight grape aftertaste appear.

Connoisseurs note that kizlyarka is easy to drink and the intoxication from it is not as heavy and “muddy” as after the usual vodka. Sometimes kizlyarka is even referred to as ladies’ liquor – not least because of the elegant bottle and the unusual sweet taste that appears after adding sugar.

Critics consider kizlyarka to be an amateur drink, since flower bouquets are uncharacteristic for spirits. Many tasters prefer calm, solid alcohol, such as aged brandy or whiskey, kizlyarka does not fit into their worldview.


In addition to the handicraft drinks of local residents, which are not available for sale, modern kizlyarka is produced at the Kizlyar Brandy Factory. The manufacturer claims that natural white wine is used as raw material, and neither preservatives nor dyes are added to the finished product.
In addition to the classic grape variation, there are also mulberry, dogwood, apple, apricot and plum varieties. All fruit vodkas have a mild floral-vanilla aftertaste and delicate color.

Grape dumplings are available in three varieties:

  • Original – vodka of light straw color (due to the addition of caramel), not aged in barrels, strength 40%, sugar content 10 g / dm3;
  • Traditional – aging for 7 months, strength 40%, sugar – 15 g / dm3;
  • Aged – spends 18 months in a barrel, strength 45%, sugar content 10 g / dm3.

The last variety is slightly stronger than the first two and has a richer taste and aroma.

How to drink kizlyarka

Drink kizlyarka chilled to a temperature of 8-10 ° C. It is not recommended to eat sweetish vodka with traditional “Russian” snacks like pickles and jellied meat with horseradish. More refined dishes are much better suited to it: nuts, dried fruits, grapes, olives, caviar. As a last resort, cold cuts will do. Due to the addition of sugar, the kizlyarka contains 260 kcal per 1000 cm³.

Kizlyarka is very easy to drink – and this is its main deceit. The fortress is not felt at all, so you can imperceptibly “sort out”. Intoxication comes mildly, if you drink correctly, without abuse, hangover usually does not happen.

Kizlyarka can successfully replace rum or grappa in alcoholic cocktails, this product is cheaper than original counterparts (although significantly more expensive than ordinary vodka), and therefore it is often kept in home bars.

Kizlyarka: vodka or cognac?

Strictly speaking, kizlyarka is not vodka. It is closest to cognac alcohol – grape moonshine. A drink from Kizlyar cannot be considered a real cognac either, since it is produced not from wine, but from wine materials (sometimes of rather low quality, for example, pressing) and does not undergo any technological processes after distillation.

Kizlyarka is often compared to grappa or chacha, but the Russian drink is somewhat different from its foreign counterparts. Chacha is made from substandard wine materials – unripe and heavily crumpled bunches, pressed directly with twigs, leaves and ridges. Raw materials can be distilled one or two times, the result is a grape alcohol of 80-degree strength. It is not customary to dilute chacha, most often it is drunk just like that.

Grappa is made from the same extracts, but of a different variety – if Rkatsiteli or Isabella grapes are used for Georgian chacha, Moscato and Prosecco are used for the Italian analogue. Grappa is often infused with berries and herbs; the finished drink can be diluted with fruit syrup.

History of kizlyarka

According to one of the versions, the deterioration in the quality of wine became the prerequisites for the emergence of a new alcoholic beverage. Scarlet Terek grapes grow in the Kizlyar region, the wine from it is low-grade, it was unprofitable to store and sell it, a new solution was required.

Fruit vodka in Russia was known before, before the allocation of grape specification, but it was in the 17th century that the recipe was “refined” by French winemakers who came to Russia to exchange experience. Foreign experts themselves claimed that the drink was almost no different from the famous cognac.

However, there is also a more romantic legend. According to one of the versions, grape dumplings appeared by accident: someone once noticed that the unused grape alcohol remaining in the barrels changes color and taste. Just at this time, the foreign policy situation worsened, because of which the import of French wines to Russia was limited, the appearance of a new aromatic strong drink came in handy.

The local population immediately appreciated the kizlyarka at its true worth: the excellent taste, the complete absence of a hangover and the price several times lower than foreign counterparts contributed to the growth of popularity. Thus, soon in Kizlyar, half of all the grapes grown were used for the production of vodka, not wine, and new vodka factories appeared.

The newspapers wrote that, in spite of the handicraft method of production, kizlyarka quite successfully competed with French cognacs. The drink was so good that even bread alcohol was diluted with it to drown out the smell of “booze”, although the law strictly prohibited such falsification.