As a general rule, there are two broad categories of spirits: clear spirits and dark spirits.
Distilled spirits always start as either wine or beer (or something that loosely resembles) and can be produced from virtually any plant anywhere in the world. By the 19th century a traveler could find distilled spirits of one kind or another pretty much anywhere he went.
Foods used in distilled spirits include:
Types of Spirits
All spirits start as clear, but the distiller has the ability to determine the taste, smell and appearance.
- Gin– Distilled from malt with the addition of juniper and often other botanicals (herbs and fruits).
- Rum– Distilled from molasses or sugar cane. Some are aged in barrels turning the rum from golden to very dark.
- Sake– Distilled from rice wine.
- Tequila– Distilled from the fruit of the blue agave plant. All tequila starts clear, but can be aged in barrels turning golden or amber.
- Vodka– A true neutral spirit, crystal clear with no discernable aroma or flavor. Some distillers may flavor their vodka with natural or synthetic flavoring.
- Brandy– Distilled from wine (grape or fruit based).
- Whiskey– Distilled from grain (barley, wheat, rye or corn).
- Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey– Distilled from at least 50% corn and only in the United States.
- Canadian Whisky– Distilled spirit from Canada made from a mix of grains (corn, rye, wheat and barley).
- Irish Whiskey– Distilled spirit from Ireland made from a mix of grains dominated by barley.
- Scotch Whisky– Distilled spirit from Scotland made from a mix grains, primarily barley.