Be it brandy, rum or vodka, there are plenty of distilled spirits you can find in liquor stores, bars and selected supermarkets. While all of them contain respective alcohol by volume, distilled spirits are not to be mistaken with beers, wines and ciders. The aforementioned alcoholic beverages are not distilled and unlike the former, they contain a lower alcohol content by comparison. Without further ado, it’s time to brush up some general knowledge with these 10 Different Types of Distilled Spirits You Should Know.
Mention the word “bourbon” and among the first things that quickly come to mind are Jim Beam and Wild Turkey, both of which hail from Kentucky, USA. Bourbon happens to be a type of whisky-based distill as well, which is only qualified to be named as such if it’s made in the United States. Other criteria? Bourbon has to be aged in charred oak barrels and contain 51% corn.
Two words: fermented fruits. And yes, it’s actually even made from wine. But in case you are wondering why brandy is still categorised under distilled spirits, the answer is plain and simple. The wine itself has to be distilled with a higher alcohol content between 35% to 60%. And unlike regular wine, brandy contains a significant flavour profile reminiscent of a burnt and oaky fruity taste.
Here’s the thing about cognac: it comes from the brandy family. But what really separates them apart is where and how Cognac is made. For the former, it must be specifically made using certain types of grapes in the Cognac region of France. Not to mention the wine itself needs to be distilled twice in copper pot stills before being transferred to French oak barrels for a minimum two-year ageing process. Some of the famous Cognac brands you can find in the market include Hennessy, Courvoisier and Martell.
A colourless 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 flavouring purposes.
No, it’s not a spelling mistake as liqueurs actually refer to the type of distilled spirits that are heavily sweetened with other ingredients like fruits and creams. You can find famous liqueur brands like Baileys Irish Cream and the coffee-flavoured Kahlua. Liqueurs can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or even incorporated into a mixer for various cocktail menus.
What do Bacardi and Malibu have in common? Well, both of them are among the famous rum brands you can find in bars and liquor stores. 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%. Other than enjoying it neat or on the rocks, you can make use of the rum for cocktails like daiquiris, mojitos and piña colada. Prefer the easiest way of mixing? Try rum and Coke served on ice, topped with a lime wedge.
Sweet, fruity yet alcoholic, schnapps typically comes from the combination of fermenting fruit juices and base liquor a.k.a. distilled spirits. The fruity flavour varies from one brand to another, namely apple, cherry, grape and peach. Schnapps can be enjoyed neat or mixed into various types of cocktails.
Made from the agave plant, this type of distilled spirit can be found in either plain (silver tequilas) or blended (gold tequilas) form. The former, also known as blanco, platinum or white tequila, is usually bottled straight from the distilling process. As for the latter, gold tequilas get their distinct colour due to the caramel colouring mixed into agave juices prior to the fermentation process. Not only they are commonly used for shots but also for cocktails, notably margaritas.
Familiar brands like Absolut, Grey Goose and Smirnoff often spring to mind when it comes to vodkas. While these colourless types of distilled spirits are often made from neutral grains like rye or wheat, vodkas can also be distilled from potatoes or fruits. Vodkas are versatile enough to be enjoyed on its own or mixed with cocktails.
Otherwise known as whiskey, this popular type of distilled spirit is 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 (see no. 1), Scotch, Irish and Blended Whiskys. You can drink it straight, on the rocks or mixed with various cocktails.
So, there you have it! And if you want to know more about distilled spirits, do check out this comparison article about the difference between brandy and whisky!