The origins of vodka are difficult to pinpoint. Depending on which sources you believe, the first documented production was either in eight-century Poland or ninth- century Russia, then it makes sense that the typical archaic description of ardent spirits, "water of life," was eventually reduced to simply voda, the Russian word for water. Over the years, it stands to reason, the term acquired an additional letter, K, and the spirit became known as vodka, as it has been named since the fourteenth century.
An alternate theory refers to the Polish word wodka, the earliest known mention of which can be found dating to 1405 in the Akta Grotskie court documents of the court documents of the Palatine of Sandomierz, Poland. It isn used tehre in reference to a medical drink.
Whichever version one believes, it is well documented that by the 1500s, vodka began to be used as a beverage as well as a chemist's distillate for medicines and perfumes throughout the regions knowm today as Eastern Europe and Russia.
The earliest vodkas were distilled from the most plentiful and, hence east expensive locally sourced grain. They were often harsh and unpleasantly flavored because or poor fermentation and rudimentary distillation methods. Thus, it became common practice to masks these flavors with herbs and spices.