When you see vodka labels or ads that say they were distilled a certain number of times, you might think that the number is equal to the number of times the liquid passed through the still. If the number is higher than four or five times, that’s probably not the case.

Instead, a savvy marketer is counting how many plates are stacked inside a very large column still — column stills are industrial stills used to produce incredibly pure neutral spirits — and counting each time the vapor passes through a plate as a separate distillation. This is how brands are claiming their liquid has been distilled hundreds of times. It hasn’t really, but who’s going to go to the distillery and find out?

No, the number of times vodka is distilled or claims to be distilled doesn’t really matter, because it’s nearly impossible to prove.

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