Brandy, alcoholic beverage distilled from wine or a fermented fruit mash. The term used alone generally refers to the grape product; brandies made from the wines or fermented mashes of other fruits are commonly identified by the specific fruit name. With the exception of certain fruit types, known as white types, brandies are usually aged.
Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries. Gin originated as a medicinal liquor made by monks and alchemists across Europe, particularly in southern France, Flanders and the Netherlands, to provide aqua vita from distillates of grapes and grains.
The word liqueur is derived from the Latin liquefacere, meaning “to make liquid.” Liqueurs were probably first produced commercially by medieval monks and alchemists. They have been called balms, crèmes, elixirs, and oils and have been used over the centuries as medicines and tonics, love potions, and aphrodisiacs.
Vodka, distilled liquor, clear and colourless and without definite aroma or taste, ranging in alcoholic content from about 40 to 55 percent. Because it is highly neutral, flavouring substances having been mainly eliminated during processing, it can be made from a mash of the cheapest and most readily available raw materials suitable for fermentation. Cereal grains were traditionally employed in Russia and Poland; later potatoes were used increasingly there and in other vodka-producing countries.
Tequila is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant. The liquor can only be produced in designated areas of Mexico. Today, it is one of the most popular liquors in the world, though it’s most often consumed in Mexico and the U.S. While tequila is the essential ingredient in margaritas and tequila shots are very popular, there are many other cocktail recipes in which it can be mixed.
Rum is a liquor made by fermenting then distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. The distillate, a clear liquid, is usually aged in oak barrels. Most rums are produced in Caribbean and North and South American countries, but also in other sugar-producing countries, such as the Philippines, India, and Taiwan.
The two most common American whiskeys are bourbon and Tennessee whiskey and can be made from a variety of grains. Corn is the dominant ingredient used and must be at least 51% of the mash to be labeled a “straight whiskey.” Straight corn whiskey is the exception – it must contain at least 80% corn. Bourbon must be produced with at least 51% corn and aged in a new charred oak barrel for a minimum of two years. Other whiskey sub-styles differ and allow used oak barrels in aging. The new oak imparts a sweet, vanilla, toasted caramel flavour. Tennessee whiskey is made in the same manner as bourbon, but must be filtered through sugar maple charcoal prior to aging.