Guide to Spirits
Spirits are unsweetened, distilled, alcoholic beverages that have an alcohol content of at least 20% ABV.
Types of Spirits
GIN - A colorless alcoholic beverage made by distilling or redistilling rye or other grain spirits and adding juniper berries or aromatics such as anise, caraway seeds, or angelica root as flavoring.
VODKA - Originally distilled from fermented wheat mash but now also made from a mash of rye, corn, or potatoes, distilled at a high proof.The final product must be “without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.”
RUM - Is a result of distillation process of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, molasses, sugar beets, maple sap or other sugar cane by –products. White rums must be aged a minimun of one year. Gold rums are aged in wooden barrels for a minimum of three years.
WHISKEY - A spirit distilled from malted grain, especially barley or rye.
- Bourbon Whiskey:The American Whiskey, this whiskey is made from a combination of spring water, corn, rye and barley malt. Bourbon must be made from a minimum of 51% corn, but no more than 80%. Bourbon derives its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky where this particular type of whiskey was developed.
- Tennessee Whiskey:This whiskey is technically similar to bourbon. Tennessee whiskey is charcoal filtered prior to aging. This eliminates impurities and adds flavor to aging in charred oak barrels. The most famous whiskey in this category is Jack Daniel’s. Another distinctive whiskey in this category is Gentleman Jack, which is charcoal filtered again after again to give it a smoother finish.
- Canadian Whiskey
This is a distinct product of Canada and is made only from grains [corn, rye and barely malt]. It may be bottled after three years of age. In the United States, it is usually 4 to 6 years old. Brands include Canadian Mist, Canadian Club, Black Velvet, Seagram’s VO and Crown Royal.
- Irish Whiskey
This is a distinct product of Ireland. Irish whiskey is a blended whisky. It is made from a mash of cereal grains, mostly barley [malted and unmalted], wheat, oats, corn and rye. Most Irish whiskeys are made in pot stills, imparting a unique taste, and triple distilled to produce a lighter, smoother spirit.
- Rye Whiskey
This whiskey is made from a mixture of grains with at least 51% being rye. It has a strong and distinctive flavor of caraway seeds.
- Blended Scotch Whiskey
Scotch is made from as many as fifty different malt and grain whiskeys. When an age of the scotch is stated on the bottle, it identifies the youngest whiskey in the blend. The distinctive flavor of scotch comes from malted barley that is dried over peat-fueled fires and later distilled into a liquid.
- Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
This whisky is produced by the pot still method of distillation from a mash consisting of only malted barley. These scotches are usually darker in color than blended scotch due to the extra time spent aging in casks. Popular brand names include Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Laphroaig.
COGNAC - Cognac is a brandy made from grapes that are very acidic. After fermenting into wine, it is distilled twice within strict parameters. Cognac is a blend of many vintages. Its age is determined only by the amount of time spend in the oak cask. Cognac designations and their meanings are:
V = Very
E = Extra
X = Extremely
P = Pale
O = Old
S = Superior
VS means that the average age of the blend is 5 to 9 years. VO, VSOP means the average age of the blend is from 12 to 20 years. XO, Napoleon, VVSOP, Cordon bleu, Vielle reserve and others designate that a large portion of the blend of cognac contained has been aged for 20, 30, 40 years or even longer.
ARMAGNAC - Armagnac is technically a brandy but often confused with cognac. While cognac comes from the Cognac region of Western France, Armagnac hails from the Armagnac region of France. Grapes are fermented into wine and then distilled once and aged for a minimum of three years. Armagnac is fuller and richer than Cognac and is described as mellow.
BRANDY - Brandy is made by distilling wines or the fermented mash of fruit. It is then aged in barrels for varying lengths of time. It takes ten gallons of wine to produce one gallon of brandy.
LIQUEURS - Liqueurs are flavored spirits prepared by infusing certain woods, fruits, or flowers,nuts,herbs in either water or alcohol, and adding sugar and flavors etc. Liqueurs usually have an alcoholic content ranging from 15% to 55%
- Coffee Liqueurs
-Tia Maria – This is a coffee based liqueur made in Jamaica. The key ingredients are Jamaican coffee beans, vanilla, sugar and cane spirit.
- Chocolate Liqueurs
-Crème de Cacao – This liqueur originates from France and contrary to popular perception, it does not contain any cream. The word crème refers to its thick, syrupy consistency.
- Berry Liqueurs
-Crème de Cassis – This liqueur is made using blackcurrants and dark red liqueur.
- Cream Liqueurs
-Bailey’s Irish Cream – This is one of the most well known types of liqueur. As the name suggests, Bailey’s Irish cream is made using two principle ingredients,Irish Whisky and cream.
-Ponche Cream – This rum based liqueur is manufactured in Trinidad and in Venezuela. The basic ingredients are rum, cream, milk, eggs and sugar.
- Fruit Liqueurs
-Cherry Brandy – This liqueur is often used in the preparation of deserts. Denmark is famous for producing some of the best cherry liqueurs.
VERMOUTH - A sweet or dry fortified wine flavored with aromatic herbs and used chiefly in mixed drinks like Martini Rosso
TEQUILA - Tequila is distilled from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant, which resembles a cactus. Tequila can come only from a specific geographic region of Mexico, in the state of Jalisco in or around the town of Tequila. If produced outside this area, it is called mescal. Mexcal can be made from different varieties of agave.