Distilled Alcoholic Beverages - vodka, Rum, tequila, brandy, whisky, Gin

Distilled Alcoholic Beverages - vodka, Rum, tequila, brandy, whisky, Gin

Distillation is the process of converting liquid in vapour by heating and again condensing it back into liquid form . It is a very simple process where we obtained clear and pure alcohol by heating liquid fermented mashed . The boiling point of alcohol is 78.5 degree Celsius while water is 100 degree Celsius. When fermented mashed is heated it evaporates and later is collected again through condensation. To make distilled alcoholic beverage, wine or other fermented fruits / plant juice/starch which are fermented earlier is distilled. It is used to make hard liquor. 

Distillation Equipment consists of three parts , container in which fermented mashed is heated, condensor in which vapour are cooled and collector where distilled liquid(spirit) is collected.

Example of distilled alcoholic beverages are Gin, vodka, whisky, rum,tequila, brandy e.t.c


Spirit is the potable alcoholic liquid obtained from distillation of fermented mashed or juice of fruits. It is obtained after distillation of any fermented cereal , fruits.

its, vegetable, botanical plants. It has very high ethanol content.

Distilled Alcoholic Beverage

1. Vodka

The word vodka is derived from primitive Russian word ' voda ' which meant little water. Vodka is colourless and flavourless spirit distilled from fermented mash of grains like rice , maize , barley with some potato. Vodka is not aged. World class vodka comes from Russia and have alcoholic volume ranging from 40% to 43%. Vodka is obtained from distillation of fermented mash of cereal and potato. It is a very popular drink . After the Russian Revolution many people flew from Russia and went to different countries where they opened their distillery and made vodka more famous across world .

Types of Vodka :

1. Plain vodka :- It have neutral taste with no strong aroma and consists of only water and ethanol . The water will be 60% while ethanol 40%. It is colourless .

2. Flavoured vodka :- They have special aroma and flavour added to them out of which most popular are peaches, coffee, honey. They have smooth flavour. They are very popular at modern days. 

Vodka is served in old fashion or Hi- ball glass with Ice cubes , soda water or tonic water and slices of lemon.

Note : Always remember for any distilled beverages to be made first fermentation is necessary . The liquid mashed after fermentation is thus distilled. Distillation are of two types Pot still and column still and for fermentation the food stuff used should contain sugar in it which is converted by yeast to carbon dioxide and Alcohol.

2. Gin

The word Gin is derived from French word 'genievre' which meant juniper. Holland was the first country to produce gin . It is called Gin because juniper is the most dominant flavour with in Gin. Gin is distilled alcoholic beverages obtained from fermented mash of grain like barley , corn and flavour with juniper berry , various herbs. The alcoholic strength of Gin lies between 40 % - 50 % by volume . Gin is not aged.

Types of Gin 

1. London dry gin : This is what people thinks of gin. London dry gin is very popular. They are dry ,very dry and have heavy juniper flavour. They goes very good with cocktail. The name is London dry gin but it does not meant that it can be produce only in London. It can be produced all over the world.

2. Plymouth Gin : It is less dry compared to London dry gin. It must be made in Plymouth , England. They have earthy flavour as they are infused with more roots. There is one brand of Plymouth Gin.

3. Dutch gin : They are also called Genever gin . It is very different in colour and in taste. it is clear , juniper dominated malted grain based spirit. It can be only made in Holland . The best way to understand Dutch gin is to think it as child of marriage between Gin and whisky.

4. Old Tom gin : It is sweeter and served on Tom Collins glass. It tastes between Genever and London dry gin.

Gin is served on Hi ball glass or whisky tumbler with Ice cubes , soda water , tonic water and slice of lemon /lime.

3. Tequila

Tequila is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented mash of catcus like agave plant called Blue Mezcal. It is a Mexican spirit distilled from juice of Blue agave. Tequila is clear and unaged with Alcohol by volume of 40 %- 50% . To grow blue agave , we need red volcanic soil. The agave plant look like pineapple and weight upto 70 pounds. It have spikes which are removed and takes eight years to mature. Tequila is the national drink of Mexico. To make tequila it should have at least 51% Agave. 

Types of Tequila :-

1. Blanco : It is unaged and white . It is bottled immediately after distillation and age less than two months in stainless steel cask.

2. Reposado : It is aged minimum of two month to less than a year in oak barrel.

3. Joven : It is a blend of silver Tequila with Reposado tequila. 

4. Anejo : It is vintage and aged minimum of one year but less than three years in oak barrel. 

Tequila is served with salt and lemon wedges /slices which is called tequila cruda because the salt is believed to lessen the burn of tequila and sour balance, enhance flavour. However , I don't suggest to drink with salt as salt will hide real flavour of drinks ,it just counters bitterness and who need salts if we have 100% agave tequila . 

Tequila is served on shooter glass or shit glass. The popular brands of tequila are - Jose cuervo , Camino , olmeca .

4. Rum

The word Rum is derived from the word 'Rumpus' . Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage / spirit obtained after distillation of fermented mash of sugar molasses . In past rum used to be drank by slaves who worked at sugarcane plantation. The alcoholic strength of rum is between 37 % to 40 % by volume but over proof Rum may have upto 58% alcohol by volume. The most famous rum in the world comes from West Indies. We should always remember that Rum is made up sugarcane or by-product of sugarcane.

The types of Rum are :-

1. White Rum : It is light and neutral in flavour . They are stored in stainless steel or glass cask/ container and matured for one year. In white rum caramel are not added . example, Bacardi

2. Dark Rum : Dark Rum is Richer in flavour and matured for three rum. The maturation is done in oak cask . In Dark Rum caramel is added. Example, lemon Hart 

3. Golden Rum : Golden Rum is matured for two to three years in charred cask and also caramel is added which makes it golden in colour . Captain Morgan is a golden rum.

Note - The longer the rum is stored in oak cask the darker will be the colour . The method of producing all rum is same, sugar cane juice or its by-product is fermented which is then distilled however the colour depend upon storage time and addition of caramel.

4. Spice Rum : They are flavour with flavour of spices and are used in making cocktails.

Service of Rum :-

Large peg is 60 ml , while small peg is 30 ml and Rum is always served in old fashioned glass or High ball with either Hot water or coke , coffee and soda water.

5. Brandy

The word brandy comes from Dutch word brandewijn which meant burnt wine. Brandy is distilled from fermented juice or mash of grapes . Brandy are aged in oak cask for minimum of two years and are kept upto ten years. They are also blended where small quantity of younger brandies are added to older ones to maintain strength, complexity. They have 40% alcohol by volume . Brandy are two types :-

1. Cognac : It comes from cognac region of France . All cognac are brandies but all brandies are not cognac because only brandy that may be labelled cognac comes from region around in Charente region of France . It is very superior brandy made of grapes, which are grown , fermented and distilled very carefully in cognac region. Sugar syrup and caramel are added for sweeten and give pale dark colour. Cognac brandies are blended and matured by cognac house such as Hennessy, Martell and there are six district in areas of cognac. 
A cognac is to brandy what champagne is to sparkling wine. Cognac must be made in cognac region of France while brandy can be made anywhere in the world.we must not be confused that Cognac is made from distillation of white wine.  

The quality marking of cognac in bottle are indicated by :-

V.S - Very superior

V.O - Very old

V.O.P - very old pale

V.S.O.P - Very superior old pale

V.V S .O.P - Very very superior old pale

X.O - Extra old 

2. Armagnac :- It is a region of southern France where superior brandies are produced. It is the oldest brandy of world and much drier than cognac. The name Armagnac was recorded in 1411 while cognac in. 1783. It have fruity and nutty taste. There are three district in area of Armagnac. Example - Napoleon X . O and Dr Moral. Late king Birendra was very fond of Armagnac brandy .

Production of Brandy - We know brandy is distilled from wine so we must make wine first which steps we have discussed earlier. Now after making wine we have to add some steps which will be: Distillation , Storing/Aging , Blending and Bottling. 

Service of Brandy :

Brandy is served on Brandy snifter or Brandy balloon glass. Large peg is 60 ml while small peg is 30 ml and brandy can be served with warm water or soda water , Ice cubes, Coke or ginger ale.

6. Whisky :-

Whisky is distilled alcoholic beverage obtained from fermented mash of cereals. Barley is used usually and grains like corn, rye wheat are also used. It is distilled throughout world,most popularly in Scotland , Canada ,USA. whisky is spirit obtained by distillation of fermented mashed of barley , rye, maize and other cereals. Whisky gets its malty flavour from barley which is smoked and roasted or peat smoked in case of scotch before mashing. Whisky is added in oak barrel and all the flavour of whisky should come from oak barrel . No flavouring agents should be used. The Alcoholic strength of whisky is between 37 - 43.5 % by volume. 

The word ' whisky ' and ' whiskey ' both are correct. The American and Irish use whiskey while Scots, Canadian use Whisky. 


1. Scotch whisky :- Scotch whisky is made in Scotland. It is made from malted barley or grain and aged in oak barrel for more than 3 years of old. Scotch whisky have five distinct categories and are matured from 3 to 21 years :-

Single malt : it is made of 100% malted barley with at least two distillation. It is stored at least for 3 years in oak barrel and It is product of single distillery. It is obtained from pot still method with one single place of origin. Example Glenfiddich, smokehead.

Single grain whisky : It is produced by column still and mainly used for blending. Grain whisky uses corn or wheat but have small fraction of malted barley used .

Blended Malt : It is a Blend of 100% barley whisky from 2 or more distillery. 

Blended whisky : It is made with combination of single malt whisky with grain whisky from two different distillery. Example: Johnnie walker , Royal salute


1. Malting :- The grains are soaked for 2 or more days to germinate. However This step is skipped in case of grain whisky. Barley is soaked for germination. 

2. Drying :- Now in second step we heat treat the grains to stop germination. Peat smoke is introduced to barley to give whisky smoky flavour and aroma.

3. Mashing :- The dried Malt is now ground and mixed in hot water to produce Mash. 

4. Fermentation :- The mash is cooled and yeast is added for fermentation

5. Distillation :- After fermentation the liquid is distilled . Distillation enhance alcoholic volume and removed undesired impurities.
For malt whisky the wash is distilled twice. In first distillation the alcohol by volume will be only 20% so it is distilled twice . For grain whisky single distillation is done as distillation is done in column still so desire alcoholic content is easily achieved  

6. Maturation :- It is now placed in oak barrel for maturation. During maturation the taste is enhanced and become smooth .

2. American whiskey :- They are made in various regions of America. American whisky are usually two types -

Bourbon : Bourbon is made in Kentucky and is corn whiskey with at least 51% corn. No additives are used and is stored for at least two years . Example Jim beam

Tennessee : They are produced in Tennessee state and have corn ranging from 51- 79% . The only difference between Tennessee and bourbon is after distillation , Tennessee whisky is filtered through sugar maple charcoal known as Lincoln county process. Example jack Daniels

3. Canadian whisky :- They are made in Canada and also called as rye whisky. They are aged, matured and bottled in canada for at least three years of age and may contain flavouring and caramel.

4. Irish whisky :- They are smoky and made in Ireland . They are stored/aged minimum of 3 years in wooden cask and made from barley ,malted and unmalted. They are also very popular example Jameson, Bushmill

Service of whisky :-

Whiskey are served with water , soda water or ice cubes in on the rock /whisky tumbler or Hi ball glass and the standard measure is a peg. Large peg is 60 ml while small peg is 30 ml.

Popular brands of whisky are Johnnie walker, vat 69 , old Durbar , chivas regal, crown royal e.t.c

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