During the course of my work I get people who ask about different aspects of Spirits, so today’s blog post is a very basic refresher for Spirit Types. This is by no means a comprehensive list. It is intended to give a general overview of the most common Spirits on the market. If you want the official site for Spirits, go to http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf
Vodka- Can be made from anything and must be distilled to at least 95% ABV; then it is referred to as a “Neutral Spirit” because the original product, used in the fermentation, is no longer reflected in the Spirit. Contrary to popular belief, Vodka was first made using Wheat. Potato Vodka came later and was frowned upon because potatoes were peasant food (unless you were a peasant of course).
Gin- Is made with a Neutral Spirit flavored with, predominantly, juniper. The difference between gins is in the rest of the recipe. Gins are divided into two general categories, Genever and London Dry (this is not the official designation but the common designations for gin)
Whiskey- Is Spirits distilled from a fermented mash of grain at less than 95% ABV. Think of it as an un-hopped beer. Included in the whiskey category are: Bourbon, Rye, Wheat, Malt, Corn, Light, Blended, Single Malt, Scotch, Irish and Canadian (there are actually more subsets but you get the idea).
Brandy- A Spirit made from a fruit wine. Included are: Fruit brandy, Pisco, Applejack, Kirschwasser, Slivovitz, Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados and Grappa.
Rum- A Spirit made from cane sugar and/or cane sugar products
Mezcal- Spirits made from the Mezcal plant
Tequila- Spirits made from, predominantly, the “Blue” Agave plant, a subset of the Mezcal family.
Liqueur/Cordial- Flavored Spirits with a high sugar/lower alcohol profile. The list is long.
This is just the basics folks. If you think something was left out or that the list at http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf is incorrect, please feel free to contact the federal government and lodge your complaint. I am sure they will listen attentively to your proclamations. Cheers!