Knowledge of Alcoholic Drinks for Beginners
Brandy means “burnt wine” in its original language, but generally speaking, any type of liquor made of fermented fruit juice, or wine, belongs to brandy!
Brandy has the following grades based on its time of aging:
V.S. (Very Special) – at least 2 years
V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) – at least 4 years
X.O. (Extra Old) – at least 10 years
X.X.O. / Extra (Extra Extra Old) – at least 14 years
The most renowned region of Brandy production is Cognac in France. Cognac even refers to a high-class brand of brandy. Compared to others, brandy tastes sweeter and mellower. Brandy has a strong aroma of fruits and a milder texture. It is highly recommended to those who prefer alcohol with delicate and fruity flavors!
Unlike brandy, whisky is liquor made of fermented grains. The common ingredients include barley, rye, wheat, corn, and so on. whisky is usually aged in a wooden barrel; thus, the aging of whisky starts from distillation and ends with bottling.
The common types of whisky are:
Single Malt whisky – “Single” means the whisky is from a single distillery; “malt” means that sprouted barley is used as ingredient (only one kind of grain is used. If whisky uses other ingredients, it can’t be named malt whisky). Unless single barrel is labeled, single malt whisky may include whisky in different barrels and ages from a single distillery
Blended Malt whisky – A blend of whisky from different breweries. The ingredient is mainly sprouted barley.
Single Grain whisky – This type of whisky uses corn, wheat malt, barley malt, and other grains as ingredients. It tastes lighter and milder compared to malt whisky.
Blended Grain whisky – A blend of multiple single grain whiskies. The distilled spirits are from different breweries.
The characteristic of whisky is the fragrance of grain and wooden barrel. The texture is strong and unique, which makes whisky a hard liquor. Drinking it neat or on the rocks are both recommended!
Also known as “Genever”, gin uses grains (barley or rye) as ingredients. After fermentation and distillation, the liquor is seasoned with many spices, mainly juniper berries.
Here are the common types of gin:
London Dry Gin – The majority of gin for sale belongs to this. London Dry Gin usually uses grains, cane, or molasses as ingredients. Then the white spirit would be seasoned with various spices in which juniper berries play a main role. “Dry” indicates that this kind of gin has a lighter flavor, contrary to Dutch Gin, which has a sweeter flavor. Basically, London Dry Gin is a category of alcoholic drink. It can be produced with a certain method regardless of its origin.
Dutch Gin/ Genever – Different from ordinary gin, Dutch Gin uses malt wine, which is made from barley, wheat, rye, corn, and other ingredients, as spirit base. It is then added with spices, including juniper berries. Compared to other types of gin, Dutch Gin has a milder flavor of juniper berries.
Old Tom Gin – This was a British gin in early times. In the 18th century, since the technology of distillation wasn’t mature enough, people would add sugar to cover the impure flavor of gin. Old Tom Gin tends to be sweeter and filling. The flavor of juniper berries and other spices in this kind of gin also tends to be richer.
Besides juniper berries, spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, fennel, and others, are used in the making as well. So gin is strongly fragrant with spices and herbs.
Vodka uses grain or vegetables (potato, rye, wheat, etc.) as ingredients. It has to proceed with the distillation process for at least three times. After multiple times of distillation, vodka tastes purer and more palatable. However, due to its lack of flavor and color, vodka is mockingly called “an alcohol without personality”. If you have ever tasted vodka with a water-like texture, it is undoubtedly a high-quality one!
Vodka, known for its lack of “personality”, is many alcohol lovers’ favorite (as it can be drunk alone, be served cold, or be served on the rocks). It also can be blended with almost any kind of beverage, so even those who can't stand the alcoholic smell are able to find drinks made for them. If vodka is blended with orange juice, it becomes Screwdriver; if it’s blended with coffee dessert wine, it becomes Black Russian; if you add whipped cream to Black Russian, then it becomes White Russian.
Don't underestimate vodka for its lack of “personality”. The percentage of alcohol is approximately 35-50%. Let your guard down , and this “water” will put you down!
Rum is made through fermentation and distillation from molasses, a side product of cane; therefore, rum is also called “sugar wine”. According to its name, you can learn that rum has an aroma of fruit and caramelized cane. Rum has a strong scent and flavorful sweetness.
Rum for sale can be roughly divided into three types:
White/ Light rum – This type has the shortest duration of preservation, so it has a lighter flavor. The color is usually light yellow. Light rum is versatile for cocktails for its mildness.
Gold rum – This type has moderate duration of preservation as well as mild flavor. It has a sweeter aroma. Due to its rich flavor, Gold rum is suitable for both drinking and making cocktails.
Dark rum – The type has the longest duration of preservation. The color is usually dark brown. It has a strong fragrance of molasses, caramel, and wooden barrel. Because of its high quality and high price, Dark rum is usually used for drinking neat.
In addition, there are also other categories of rum. For instance, there is fruity-flavored rum that uses fruits such as banana and mango; there is also spice-flavored rum that uses cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, and other spices as ingredients.
Named by its ingredient, tequila is liquor made from the stem of agave and originates from Mexico. Agave belongs to succulent plants. It has an appearance resembling a giant pineapple. The stem of agave is also called “piña” and contains plenty of sugar, which makes it suitable for brewing.
Tequila can be divided into the following categories based on the duration of preservation:
Blanco/ Silver – Blanco means “white” in Spanish. This tequila doesn’t proceed with the aging with oak barrel. The preservation time is not longer than one month. It also has the strongest flavor.
Joven abocado – The name means “young and smoothing” in Spanish. It shares a lot of similarities with Blanco, but is added with a subtle amount of caramel and aged tequila. The color is gold.
Reposado – Reposado means “rest” in Spanish. The preservation time is shorter than one year. The color is light gold. It has a rich texture and is the most common type on the market.
Añejo – The name means “aged”. After one year of aging, the texture becomes smoother.
Extra Añejo – “Extra aged” tequila is preserved for more than three years. It is the highest-graded and most expensive tequila. The flavor is delicate and smoothing.
When it comes to the texture, tequila is rich in herbal aroma. The younger ones have the fragrance of tangerine and coffee. The aged ones, on the other hand, have a more smoothing texture as well as a wooden barrel flavor like whisky.
Have the introduction brought you to a greater understanding to the differences between these liquors? Next time you go to a bar, there will be no need to worry whether you can understand the bartenders when they’re introducing these alcohol. It’s time to try some!
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