How do you Spirit properly?

October 20th 2021


What better month to talk about Spirits than October… Among the many distilled spirits available, there are just six base spirits: Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Brandy & Rum. While distilled using similar methods, each has its own unique flavour, and there are distinct styles within each category. These spirits form the foundation for most cocktails and are often employed to create all of the flavourful spirits used in the Booze bar. By learning the basic characteristics of these spirits, you’ll better understand how to use them in mixed drinks!

Vodka is hitting our top spot in popularity worldwide. Did you know Vodka translates from Slavic to “Little Water” although we wouldn’t recommend washing your hair with it! With a distinguished clear look it lives up to its name… unlike popular flavoured vodka’s which tend to be coloured.

Vodka can be distilled from almost anything, and it can be a catch-all category for white spirits that don’t fit elsewhere. Neutral grains (rye, corn, wheat, etc.) and potatoes are the most common, though some vodkas are distilled from beetroot, grapes, and other bases! Pink Vodka anyone…

With a neutral but distinctive taste it can vary greatly depending on the distillate base and added flavourings. Quite often, vodka is distinguished more by texture: oily vs. medicinal. What’s your favourite mix?

Alcohol Content: Typically 40-50% ABV

Gin is next on our list, which emerged in England after the introduction of Jenever, a Dutch & Belgian liquor originally a medicine made by Monks & Alchemists! Did we tell you this was a history lesson?

So let’s beGIN…

Made from neutral grains such as barley, corn, rye, and wheat and then flavoured with a variety of botanicals, which vary by brand, this spirit can pack a flavourful punch! Primarily the flavour that defines gin comes from Juniper berries which impart its signature “piney” aroma and taste.

Like all the duo classics, French & Saunders, Morecombe & Wise, Laurel & Hardy… G&T is well up there! If you’ve heard of Gin you’ve heard of Tonic, which was first combined by British officers in India in the early 19th century!

Also, if you’ve got a bit of spare time on your hands, give making it a go! Gin is essentially a flavoured vodka, and you can make your own at home! Just infuse your chosen vodka with Juniper berries and other spices and botanicals. Just don’t do it in your bathtub, okay?

Alcohol Content: Typically 40-47% ABV

Rum is the oldest spirit on this list and is still going strong hence reaching third place! This vintage classic is steeped in heritage, so buckle up… born around 1620 in the Caribbean this spirit was created for fun, unlike others which were originally for medicinal purposes.

Distilled from some form of sugar- Molasses is very common, and some rum uses pure sugar cane. With a sweet toasted sugar taste that varies by style and region rum can also take on different appearances such as light, gold, dark, navy, black and aged.

Light rum is typically not aged, and other rums are often aged in oak barrels to some extent. Due to climate, aging times vary greatly; warm climate rum requires less barrel time than rum from colder climates. Rum is also often blended.

Alcohol Content: Typically 40% ABV, Overproof rums can reach 75% ABV

Tequila is the part player on the list. Are you that friend who brings out the Tequila shots? This spirit is distilled from the fermented juices of the agave plant is tightly regulated. Shhhh… Who’d have known! The laws are defined under an Appellation of Origin, which was first adopted in 1978, overseen be the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT). Because of this, Tequila can only be produced in five regions in Mexico—Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, and Jalisco.

Flavour wise this spirit has a vegetal, earthy flavour with semi-sweet and spicy tones. Te Amo… more like Te Quila!

Widely loved on it’s own, a classic Tequila cocktail is a Margarita which one a day could keep the doctor away… during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, patients were instructed to drink tequila with lime and salt to ease their symptoms. Today, tequila isn’t considered a cure, but might still help sooth sore throats, ease congestion and aid with sleep! Salt, Shot & Suck (a lime)!

Alcohol Content: Typically 40-50% ABV

Brandy in Dutch ‘brandewijn’ meaning ‘burnt wine’ is distilled from grapes for traditional brandy. However the spirit can be distilled from other fruits such as apples, apricots, cherries, and peaches! Apricot, or apriNOT?

When nights draw in and the cold starts to creep… Brandy is most enjoyable after a meal, served at room temperature due to it’s soothing & relaxing qualities. Brandy tastes like fruity burnt wine with a pleasant oakiness. To release these pleasant aromas the lucky user should cradle the glass in their palm to slightly warm and release these atmospheric smells.

Varying in style, brandy is typically aged in oak and often blended. Being distilled worldwide this can change but traditions do stay in place with certain regions of the world that make specific brandy styles, such as cognac, Armagnac, and Pisco.

Alcohol Content: Typically 40% ABV

Whiskey was good enough for George Washington so why wouldn’t you try it? Starting its life as a beer… what?! Whiskey is made from ‘wort’ which is made out of water, yeast and malts. Which may also add to the name as ‘Whiksy’ which comes from the Gaelic word reading ‘uisge beathe ’, translating to ‘water of life’. We told you this was a history lesson!

This spirit also varies by style, but corn, rye, wheat, and barley are common in ingredients. Many whiskies use a combination of a few grains in the mashbill. It is also made all over the world, the top two places are Scotland and the USA… creating the classics ‘Scotch Whisky’ and ‘Bourbon’. P.s that wasn’t a spelling mistake if a whiskey originates in either Scotalnd of Canada it is spelt with the ‘e’.

Roasted, malted grain with oak undertones should be expected in any whiskey. There are also distinct characteristics in each style. Whiskey is typically aged in charred oak. Some styles, such as bourbon, require new barrels while others use a mixture of new and previously used whiskey or wine barrels. Moonshine (also called white dog) is the primary exception to aging. Some whiskeys are blended, while others are single malts.

Alcohol Content: Typically 40-50% ABV

We hope you enjoyed our spirit breakdown! What spirit has haunted you to go and out and try?