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Distilled spirits are alcoholic beverages obtained by a distillation process from wine or some other type of fermented fruit, or plant juice from a starchy material. Its alcoholic content is higher than beer and wine. The production of distilled spirits is based upon the process of fermentation, which is the natural decomposition of carbohydrate containing materials.
Why is it called Distilled Spirits?
The vapor given off as a result of chemical process was also commonly referred to as the spirit of the material. Since the distillation of alcohol gave off the same type of vapors, "spirit" became associated with the distillation process. A popular opinion is that it is called Distilled Spirits because alcohol can raise a person's spirits.
Categories of Distilled Spirits
Presented in alphabetical order (we don't like to play favorites, the spirits may get mad!)
Mention the word "bourbon" and among the first things that quickly come to mind are Jim Beam and Wild Turkey, both of which are made in Kentucky. A spirit can only be labeled Bourbon if it is made in the United States, contains 51% corn, and aged in charred oak barrels.
Made from fermented fruits or wine. The wine itself has to be distilled with a higher alcohol content between 35% to 60%. Brandy has a burnt and oaky fruity taste.
Cognac comes from the brandy family. It must be made using certain grapes in the Cognac region of France, and must be distilled twice in copper pot stills before being transferred to French oak barrels for a minimum two-year aging process.
A colorless alcoholic beverage that is commonly found in bars and liquor stores, the distillation process of gin comes from various types of neutral grains. This includes the likes of barley, rye and wheat before being added with aromatics (e.g. anise, caraway seeds) for flavoring purposes.
Liqueur, Pronounced Lick-Or, refers to the distilled spirits that are heavily sweetened with other ingredients like fruits and creams. Some commonly known liqueur brands are Galliano (vanilla and anise), Kahlua (coffee), Goldwasser (Licorice, aniseed and cinnamon), Baileys (Irish Cream).
Rum is typically distilled using sugar from molasses or pure sugar cane, that explains why rums contain a sweet profile with an average alcohol by volume of 40%.
Schnapps typically comes from the combination of fermenting fruit juices or herbs and distilled spirits, There are manor flavors available, including peppermint, plum, butterscotch, apple, apple cider, cherry, cinnamon, cherries, grape, pears, and peach. A good conversation starter is Goldschläger, a Swiss cinnamon schnapps which contains small flakes of 22-karat gold.
Made from the agave plant, this type of distilled spirit can be found in either plain (also known as blanco, platinum, white tequila, or silver tequila) or blended (gold tequilas) form. The lain is usually bottled straight from the distilling process, while gold tequilas get their distinct color from the caramel coloring mixed into agave juices prior to the fermentation process.
Vodka is a colorless distilled spirit, often made from neutral grains like rye or wheat, or even potatoes or fruits.
Usually made from malted grains. It can be anything from barley to rye and wheat, which are then aged in charred oak barrels. Whisky also comes in different styles, namely bourbon. Scotch, Irish and Blended Whiskeys.