Ultimate Guide to Liquor
Everyone who drinks has a go-to drink. You know the one we’re talking about. You walk into a bar to meet friends or your waiting for your date at the restaurant, and you want to order one drink, and you don’t have to think about what it is. That is your go-to drink.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to have your favorite drink, how many different types of liquor have you tried?
While we don’t serve spirits at Sweetbriar Rose, that doesn’t mean we don’t like to enjoy a delicious libation now and then.
The good thing is we do serve some of the best wine and beer around. And of course, we are always offering our from-scratch baked goods and sandwiches to fill up your bellies. Stop in and see us Thursday through Sunday!
What Exactly is Liquor?
So what is liquor? Or is it liqueur? It seems there is some variation on what liquor is and how it is spelled.
Liquor is often called spirits. This alcoholic beverage is always made of grains or another plant and then fermented and distilled. It is typically accepted that there are six types of distilled spirits: brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey.
Through distillation, liquor will range from 37 ½ percent to 55 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). These six liquors are the base of most modern-day cocktails.
These six liquors can be flavored. Some popular flavors are fruit, like citrus, or cinnamon, and the result is not sweet. The flavor is added after distillation through steeping. Whiskey, however, can not be flavored and still be considered whiskey.
Liqueur, on the other hand, is sweetened and flavored. They are still considered liquor and are still distilled.
Many liqueurs have a very long and rich history. Benedictine and Chartreuse were both created by monks as natural remedies for common ailments.
A significant difference in liquors and liqueurs is the alcohol content. Because there are additives, the ABV can be as low as 15 percent. However, don’t get caught thinking they are all that low! Some have an ABV as high as strong liquors.
You will often find these liqueurs in cocktails. They are usually the ingredient that makes you say “Ooo.”
Six Types of Liquor
Primarily distilled from fruit, such as grapes, apple, apricot, cherry, and peach.
Many describe it as “fruity burnt wine.”
Brandy is typically aged in oak.
Typically 40 percent ABV (80 proof)
Produced worldwide, though certain regions like Cognac and Armagnac are famous for it.
Common styles: Cognac, Armagnac, Spanish Brandy, Pisco, American Brandy, and Grappa.
Brandy is generally in higher-end cocktails with only a few ingredients.
Primarily distilled from neutral grains, like barley, corn, rye, and wheat.
After distillation, gin is flavored with different botanicals.
It is often described as herbal, dry, and piney. The distinguishing flavor is juniper berries.
Gin is not aged.
ABV ranges from 40 to 47 percent (80 to 94 proof).
Common styles: London Dry Gin, Plymouth Gin, Old Tom Gin, Genever, and New American Gin.
You will generally find gin in dry cocktails, like martinis.
Primarily distilled from sugar, either molasses or pure sugar cane.
With a sweet flavor profile, it is described as toasted sugar.
Rum can be unaged and will be light, while darker rums might be aged in oak. Aging time varies.
ABV is typically 40 percent (80 proof) but can be as high as 75 (150 proof) in over-proofed rums.
Common styles: Light Rum, Gold Rum, Dark Rum, Over-Proof Rum, Spiced Rum, Cachaca, Flavored Rum.
Rum is incredibly versatile because it is sweeter. Rum was one of the first liquors to be mixed into a cocktail. Obviously, rum is in many tropical drinks, but it can also be in warm drinks.
Only distilled from Agave.
Tequila has an earthy profile with semi-sweet and spicy notes.
Blanco, or white, tequila is un-aged. Other tequilas are aged, often in whiskey oak barrels. Gold tequila is blended.
ABV is typically 40-45 percent (80-90 proof).
Tequila is only produced in Mexico. If it is not made in Mexico, it CAN’T be called Tequila.
Common styles: Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, Extra-Anejo, Gold.
Tequila is known as a fun or party drink. It is also mixed into a variety of cocktails. Of course, margaritas are a favorite drink and can be flavored in a variety of ways.
Distilled from neutral grains, like rye, corn, or wheat. Can also be distilled from potatoes, beets, grapes, or other foods.
Vodka has a very neutral profile, though it varies greatly depending on added flavors.
Vodka is not aged.
ABV is generally 40-50 percent (80-100 proof).
Vodka is produced worldwide.
Common styles: clear vodka is distinguishable by the base or the region it was made. Flavored vodka is also a style.
Because vodka is so neutral, it is mixed in a wide variety of drinks. Furthermore, because there are so many styles and flavors, the drink combinations are endless.
Distilled from malted grains, like corn rye, wheat, and barley.
The flavor profile of whiskey is of roasted grain with oaky notes. Because there are different styles of whiskey, there are distinct flavors for each.
Whiskey is aged in charred oak. Depending on the style, some require new barrels, while others require used whiskey or wine barrels. Moonshine is not aged.
ABV is 40-50 percent (80-100 proof).
Whiskey is produced worldwide.
Common styles: Irish Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Blended Whiskey, Flavored Whiskey, Japanese Whisky, and more.
Most styles of whiskey have distinct regulations.
Whiskey is a versatile liquor and used in many cocktails. Plus, there are so many styles, the combinations are endless. It is often used in more complex drinks and pairs well with fruit and warm drinks.
There you have it, a brief look at liquors and the six main types.
What is your favorite liquor, and how do you like to drink it?
While we don’t serve liquor at Sweetbriar Rose, we do have beer, wine, and Jell-O shots made with wine! Stop by Thursdays through Sundays for a fun time.