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            All spirits are made by distilling a fermented brew. The “base” brew normally delivers an alcohol level around 13-14%, it is then distilled at around 85°C (ethyl alcohol boils at about 78°C). The distillation process is normally repeated at least once to obtain a higher level of purity.


Specific spirit depends on the materials used in the brews.


ABSINTHE

This is historically produced in Switzerland & France by distilling wine containing botanicals such as grand wormwood, petite wormwood, anise & fennel. It usually varies between 55-80% ABV.


BACARDI

A rum made by Bacardi.


BOURBON

See Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon.


BRANDY

From the Dutch brandewijn or “burnt wine”, it is a spirit produced by distilling wine & generally contains 36-50% ABV.


GIN

Comes from “from agricultural products” either grain (normally barley or maize) or molasses. All gins include juniper berries & other aromatic botanicals may be used, coriander, angelica, orange & lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise & nutmeg to name but a few. London dry gin is a clear spirit that is redistilled with juniper berries & further flavoured with botanicals. Most gins are between 37.5 & 48% ABV.


GRAPPA

A brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%–60%. It is made by distilling the pomace (skins, pulp, seeds & stems of grapes) left over from winemaking.


RUM

Is distilled from fermented molasses or sugar cane juice. All rums start out as totally clear spirits, some are aged in barrels which turning them into golden colour, amber or very dark. Most rums are around 37.5-40 % ABV but some rums are produced at over 75%!


SCHNAPPS

Derived from the German word Schnaps, it usually clear & distilled from fermented cereals or fruits, including cherries, peaches, plums & apricots. Often schnapps is made from the skins, pulp, seeds (pomace) formed in juice production. Schnapps has no sugar or flavouring added. The alcohol content is usually around 15-40% ABV.


SHOCHU

Is a clear spirit distilled from sweet potato or buckwheat, barley & rice etc., it is usually around the 25-42% ABV mark.


TEQUILA

Is made from distilled sap from hearts of the blue agave or maguey plants & is usually 38-40 % ABV.


VODKA

A typically colourless liquor, usually distilled from fermented grain or potatoes & is typically 37.5-50 % ABV


WHISKY/WHISKEY/BOURBON

Just to avoid confusion, Scotch whisky & Irish whiskey are spelt differently. Whisky is the usual spelling here in the UK, in the US it is whiskey.

Scotch whisky is a distilled spirit made in Scotland from a mixture of several types of grains (barley, wheat, rye & oats etc.) but in the case of single malt Scotch, barley is always the only grain used. “Blended” Scotch is produced by mixing several Scotch whiskies & could include some whiskies made in other distilleries & different years. Generally blended whiskies tend to taste the same, year after year

Irish whiskey is a distilled spirit made in Ireland from a mix of grains dominated by barley.

Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are distilled spirits made only in the US & they must contain at least 51 percent corn.

Canadian whisky is a distilled spirit made in Canada, generally from a mix of grains, primarily corn, rye, wheat, & barley.


All whiskies tend to be around 40% ABV but some can be over 50%.

Spirits - An Insight to Their Production
spirits