I came across this recipe for making my own vanilla extract. However, the vodka in my country isn't very cheap. So, I would like to replace it with a cheaper alternative.

We discussed this in the chat room already and decided that there must be some alcohol in it and vodka works good because it's quite a neutral flavour.

Anyone knows what I can substitute the vodka with?

  • Wodka ? Do you mean Vodka?
    – TFD
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 10:19
  • Are you asking whether you can use a substitute for Wodka brand Vodka (i.e. a "well" vodka like Kamachatka), or a substitute for Vodka ? I assume you are asking about the latter.
    – mfg
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 10:51
  • 4
    I meant vodka (but it is written as wodka in my language), I edited the question.
    – Mien
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 11:32
  • With a "w" is just how most people say it after a drink or too
    – TFD
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 12:31

4 Answers 4


Think about this question another way:

  • You are making vanilla infused liquor, you just happen to be cooking with it. And Yes, you can infuse any liquor

If you want to use a substitute for Wodka brand Vodka (i.e. use cheaper, off-brand vodka like Kamachatka), I would say that yes, you can substitute out one vodka for another with the caveat that you will want to consider the purity of the distillation you are using as it may impact the flavor of your extract. Substituting top-shelf vodka for "well" vodka may result in an inferior extraction.

If you are asking whether you can use some other grain alcohol other than vodka, itself, the answer is that yes, you can. You can even use brown liquors and so on; bear in mind they will all extract the oils but will carry the flavors differently (vanilla infused bourbon doesn't sound half bad). In particular, I would recommend going with a neutral grain spirit like Everclear; I have used it in making lemoncello, orangecello, and homemade Kahlua and it is pretty effective in extracting flavor while having none of its own.

  • 1
    Wodka is an acceptable transliteration for водка in many languages, even though vodka makes more sense in English. The question isn't about brand names. (And what is a "well" vodka?)
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 11:05
  • @rum I clarified above; "well liquor" refers to cheap, off-brand liquors used in the mixing of cheap, standard drinks where the brand of liquor is not specified and a cheap one is intended. The "well" reference is in contrast to "middle-" and "top-shelf" liquor.
    – mfg
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 13:33
  • @rum I started a [query on English.see if you're interested]( English.stackexchange.com/questions/42744/…)
    – mfg
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 14:06

Any neutral white spirit without flavourings should do nicely.

  • Can you give examples?
    – Mien
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 11:33
  • I am afraid I do not know what is available in Belgium. In my own country, Sweden, we have a multitude of unflavoured grain spirits but maybe there is no such tradition in Belgium. I guess you do not need it since you have all that wonderful beer. :) Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 13:18
  • I already thought about young grain jenever, I think that might work :)
    – Mien
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 14:56
  • Yes, that could work, as long as the juniper flavour is not strong enough to overwhelm the vanilla. I guess it depends on what you are planning to do with the finished extract. If you are going to use it in desserts and cakes, I would not go for jenever. White or golden rum, perhaps? Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 10:53
  • What about something like this, can you get that in Belgium? beowein.eshop.t-online.de/Echter-Nordhaeuser-Doppelkorn-07-l/en Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 10:57

Bourbon Vanilla Extract is a kind of vanilla extract with the added flavor profile of bourbon - is whiskey available or cheaper than Vodka in Belgium? I am not aware of the trade specifics of the EU but Scottish Whiskey (in general) is quite good and would be very similar to Bourbon, which is an American version of whiskey. Looking at the recipe I think you could just replace the whiskey for vodka 1 to 1.

You could also use half a cup of whiskey and half a cup of diluted ethanol / grain alcohol if you didn't want the whiskey flavor to be as strong.

  • Bourbon vanilla is not so named because it contains bourbon, but because it was historically cultivated on Île Bourbon, now called Réunion. That said, you certainly can use whiskey (or any alcohol that's 80+ proof), but I'm not sure that bourbon would be a good substitute - I've used rum myself, and brandy seems like it might be good, but I am not sure bourbon or scotch would go well with the vanilla. (maybe smooth Irish whiskey?)
    – user5561
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 3:09

In many countries you can buy pure ethanol that has not been tainted with IPA or BITREX or other non food grade supstances from a good medical supply retailer (pharmacy) or hardware store

You will still be paying alcohol tax etc., but it should work out cheaper

Cut it to 50% dilution with water to make a usable infusion liquid

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