Basic Spirits & Liqueur 101

This is a quick overview of the differences between the various spirits and liqueur options those you of age will come across at your local ABC store or next gathering with friends at the bar.

Spirits: Distilled lquidis that must contain at least 35% alcohol

Liqueur: Spirits with at least 2.5% sugar content like Kaluha, Baliley’s Irish Cream, Limoncello, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, etc.

Neutral Grain Spirit: clear, colorless, flavorless high-ethanol content liquid distilled from cereal grains. This is your vodka, Everclear, etc.

Gin: A neutral grain spirit that is redistilled after being flavored with juniper berries giving it a botanical essence. Most popular style of the London dry gin flavored with juniper berries and citrus botanicals like lemon and bitter orange peel.

Whisky: Where do I begin with whisky? There are several styles depending on location produced, type of grain utilized, ingredients, and preparation/aging methods. Generally, all whiskys are distilled from fermented grain mash and aged in oak barrels giving whiskys their caramel hue.

Scotch — must be distilled in Scotland, aged for at least 3 years + 1 day in oak casks, and the grains have been smoked with peat moss. Single malt is the more expensive style, the distillate originates from a single distillery while blended whiskies are, as you might infer, are mixtures from different distilleries.

Bourbon —  made form at least 51% corn, aged in new charred oak for 2  years, produced in the U.S.

Tennessee Sippin Whisky — filtered through maple charcoal

Sour Mash Whisky — distilled from previously fermented mash

Tequila: Distilled from Blue Agave plant in the Tequila, Mexico, the multiple types depend on the aging time

Rum: Distilled from sugarcane by-products — molasses and sugarcane juice, the clear distillate is then aged in oak barrels, there are 3 types – light, dark, and overproof.

Hope this clarifies any curiosities you have had about spirits and liqueurs!

-A

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